Mike Murphy

Those of greater virtue than I, have made noble requests such as “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, … .” I simply ask for beer, wine, or food. I probably more resemble a panhandler.

I must admit that I have received a gift or two over the years while performing my career duties. In the good old days of vice and graft, before journalistic integrity crept into my workspace, it was a food basket here, a striped tie there, and the occasional bottle of wine. Which brings me to the background for my request.

Now that I have cultivated the hobbies of beer-brewing and dandelion wine-making, I have found myself comparing notes with others of a similar persuasion. It’s amazing how many folks in the HVAC biz like beer or wine - it almost rivals those who are fond of golf. Some whom I know have discovered that fine balance point of combining the two.

A friend in the industry recently sent me a jar of raspberry salsa that will put a “party in your mouth,” according to the homemade label. It then occurred to me that there must be hundreds of HVAC people who wear other hats away from work, and are probably quite adept at making everything from soda pop to cherry pie. Here is my proposition to you:The NEWSwill host a Best Makers in HVAC contest to determine who makes the best grub and grog.

The rules are relatively simple and unfair. Everybody is eligible. Send one of whatever food or drink item you have created with your grubby little hands, and I will be the sole judge of excellence. Winners will be published in an upcoming issue ofThe NEWS, and you will receive some schlocky certificate. I will make up the categories based upon mostly secret calculations. For example, if your cherry pie is the only pie that makes it through the U.S. Postal Service in edible fashion, then you will win the pie category. You can send dandelion wine if you want, but I’m pretty sure that mine will be established as the winner in the weed wine category.

If you do something really creative like sculpting, I’m sorry, but if I can’t put it in my mouth, it can’t be in the contest. Address all entries to Best Makers in HVAC, c/o Mike Murphy,The NEWS, 2401 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 700, Troy, MI 48084.

The deadline for entries is August 22.


The heretofore mentioned contest is real, so don’t delay, and pass this around to people you work with unless they also make dandelion wine.

This industry has spawned quite a few innovative products from the trenches. In fact,The NEWShas occasionally written about products that were invented by contractors. Steve Miles, general manager of Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning, St. Louis, came up with the Visible Defects System for finding cracks in heat exchangers.

Milton Baum, president of International Service Leadership (ISL) and an owner of Keil Heating & Air, Riverdale, N.J., designed Kool Kap, a protective cover for condensing and heat pump units.

Joe Wojtowicz, a service technician with Majestic Heating & Cooling, Detroit, invented The AC Watchdog, an audible indoor alarm that alerts owners to possible condensing unit theft.

Dale Crook, a commercial HVAC contractor for 23 years, turned real estate developer, still keeps his hand in HVAC. He has invented the Flex Flow Elbow®, the Flex Tie®, and he was last reported working on a universal register boot.

Steve Vossen, a former service technician in Minneapolis developed The Ductcap, a reusable temporary end cap to be used to protect open ductwork.

Forty year HVAC veteran Bill Porter of Oklahoma City invented the Dual Fuel Control Center, a printed circuit board for use with heat pump systems.

That is only the tip of the iceberg. An inventor by the name of Dave Lennox started a little business in Marshalltown, Iowa. A tinkerer by the name of Willis Carrier did OK, too. Warren S. Johnson designed a multi-zone temperature control system in 1895 and got Johnson Controls off the ground in Milwaukee. These are just a few that you may have heard of; this industry is still growing through the innovative efforts of people like you.

Murphy’s Law:You can’t win if you don’t play.

Publication date:07/14/2008