Residents in a New York City neighborhood are up in arms over the improper installation of window units in high-rise apartments. How do they know they are improperly installed? It’s an assumption being made by those who see them fall just in time to get out of the way. One poor fella didn’t move quickly enough back in 1988, and according to an article inThe New York Times, it cost him his life. The New York City Housing Authority has rules in place to govern the installation of these beastly machines, but their enforcement is seemingly lax. A rise in falling units, however, has the city entity holding emergency meetings at offending apartment buildings and toughening up their stance.

Although many contractors aren’t the least bit fond of window a/c units, it should be safe to say that they understand the quest to be cool. Summer storms and record-breaking heat waves have folks searching for ways to beat the heat. Some crank up the a/c system, others crack open the corner fire hydrant, but many are investing in these one-room window air conditioners, and it seems that the necessity for proper installation and its enforcement is something that both the reputable contractor and customer could share. Who would have thought that one of the better examples of the need for quality installation would come from the consumer a/c market? The cautionary tale of falling window units could help contractors seal the deal with a customer who is wondering why he couldn’t just buy a few of those window units himself instead of having a professionally installed and tested system.

Distracted Driving Isn’t Just For Teenagers

This cautionary tale may save a contractor or his employees’ lives one day. As technology progresses, contractors have been encouraged to invest in tablets, smart phones, GPS, and other technologies that technicians use in the field and on their service truck. A decked out service truck can support a lot of interactive technology that helps improve business and its efficiency. These technological improvements, however, have the potential to expose a contractor’s business to the consequences of distracted driving.

Distracted driving has made the headlines across the nation. Comparisons to the dangers of drunk driving are plenty, and new laws are popping up regionally to reign in an epidemic of distracted, but well-connected, drivers.

Just as parents are cautioning their teenagers to keep their eyes on the road and to leave their cell phones alone, so too should contractors consider advising their staffs to keep driving distractions to a maximum of zero. Not only is the life of the technician at stake, but the life of the contractor’s company could be at stake as well. Imagine if a technician accidently injures, or worse, kills someone in an accident. Tragedy aside, that company’s public image and, consequently, its business may not survive either.

Old Faithful May Not Be the Best Choice

This final cautionary tale is for contractors in the market for new smart phones. Don’t be confused by the previous tale, smart phones and technology are arguably a must for the successful contractor — just not while driving.

The battle for smart phone supremacy rages on, but one contender seems to be losing ground. Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry line is experiencing a drop in sales. According to an article on, a notable tech blog, RIM’s sales dropped 43 percent in a quarter, losing approximately 28 cents per share. Not only that; but RIM’s share in the global smart phone market has dropped almost 50 percent. It’s premature to count RIM and BlackBerry out yet, but it appears the smart phone line is on the ropes and possibly headed for the mat. The company is working to reinvent some of its product line, but the new release won’t arrive until 2013.

Those looking to invest may want to consider carefully which cell phone direction is best for their company. BlackBerry was once the no-brainer choice, but it is possibly time to look at all the options instead of re-upping a contract with old faithful.

Be it falling window units, driving distractions, or technology choices, all of these cautionary tales serve to advise contractors to keep a look out for the little things that will help and those that will hinder their businesses in the near and distant future. There are a lot of little decisions to be made along the way in an HVAC business, and paying attention to the details could be the best improvement a contractor makes this year. Oh, and don’t forget to watch for falling air conditioners.

Publication date: 7/16/2012