What do you remember most about middle school? Can you still recall the name of your sixth-grade teacher? Do your taste buds still tingle — for better or worse — at the smell of the chicken nuggets in the hot lunch lines?

Middle school is a coming-of-age period for most children, a time when young eyes often spend more time gazing into mirrors than textbooks. Middle school is also a time largely defined by its cliques or posses. My school was full of these “clubs.” There were the preps, with their brand-name clothing; the band nerds, who orchestrated after-school band room congregations; and the shop kids, who hovered in a habitat of lumber and drill presses. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the gothic kids. Do schools still have hallways filled with goths? I hope not. (To the gothic readers of this magazine … Please don’t kill me.)

And, like R-22 and R-410A, the groups simply don’t mix. Shop kids never played well with trombonists, and vice-versa. The art kids creatively snubbed the overachieving academics. And, the goths, well … never mind.

But, what if these individuals shed their social shields and found a way to coexist? I’ve seen some pretty killer custom guitars that look, play, and sound like magic — all thanks to a collaboration of the shop kids’ craftsmanship, the artists’ decorative talents, and the musicians’ ability to play.

Exclusive Clubs

Recently, in an effort to share the informative, educational context of The NEWS, I turned to LinkedIn. After joining about a dozen HVAC-related groups, I opted to post a recent NEWS article that focused on rising energy costs — a topic that transcends all industry sectors — in each of these group forums. I was excited to read what fellow industry professionals thought of the article.

However, less than an hour later I received an unexpected response. A moderator representing an energy-efficiency organization group page referred me to the “promotions” tab of their LinkedIn site, because, “Posting links to blogs or other off-site content is acceptable, but not if registration is required.”

Yes, to access The NEWS’ online content, we ask that you sign in (once) with an email address. I guess this sign-in request was too much to ask.

An hour or so later, another rejection letter landed in my inbox. This time, the moderator of a distribution-based group stated, “Your posting is not related to the general subject matter of the group. I think if you review the other postings, you’ll see what I mean.”

A week later, I repeated my effort, this time with an article honoring The NEWS’ Best Instructor and Trainer contest winners.

Lo and behold, yet another snub. The refrigerant technology group moderator stated, “Please post articles or comments that are directly related to a question or are germane to this group.”

I responded, ‘Isn’t training and education germane to all sectors of the HVAC industry?’

I’ve yet to receive a reply.

Come Together

Industry collaboration has been a cornerstone topic at every HVAC event I’ve ever attended. I continue to hear, ‘To advance this trade, we all must work together.’ Is this an idea worth embracing? Are we just pacifying our peers with a dose of lip service?

Technologies such as zoning, heat recovery systems, and passive dehumidification weren’t the creation of one clever mind. These innovations were created through the efforts of many.

When we work together, programs such as the ClimateTalk Alliance and HVACR Workforce Development Foundation become more than ideas; they become principles. Just imagine what could be accomplished if the industry’s shop, band, and art types all found a way to peel back their proprietary handcuffs. Because, sadly, based on my recent excursion beneath HVAC’s social media surface, it’s abundantly clear that exclusivity remains a rather large barricade in the industry’s advancement.

Publication date: 12/23/2013 

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