How many of you are sick of paying the government so much money? Income tax, business tax, and local fees all take a chunk out of contractors’ bottom lines.

Well, meet Luis Hess, owner of Hess Air in Alamo, Texas. He paid $250 for his HVAC license more than a few years back and pays $115 a year to renew it. Hess is talking to members of the Texas legislature to have that changed. What would he like the cost to be? He’d prefer to pay about $7,000 to get the license and $2,000 a year to renew.

No, Hess didn’t drink too much of the tequila. He just feels this is a great way to improve the HVAC industry. You see, this contractor is tired of the industry being overrun by folks who are unprofessional and using the industry as a side job.

“I am talking about the people who have a different 9-to-5 job and are just doing HVAC on the weekends for beer money,” Hess said. “You’d be surprised how many of these people exist in my area. They do the consumer a disservice. They don’t stand behind their work.”

His thought is the $7,000 would make sure people were serious about serving this industry. Hess is quick to point out that it’s not intended to prevent anyone from entering the industry; it’s meant to improve the quality of individuals who are entering the HVAC trade.

“It would help everyone. Contractors would be better off without people lowballing them. Manufacturers would benefit because it would eliminate installers who don’t stand behind the product or back up the warranty,” Hess said. “And, finally, consumers would be better off because they would know their product was being installed correctly and their warranty would be worth something.”

Now, Hess doesn’t want the money from these licenses to just go to the government coffers. He wants these funds to be used to hire enforcement to properly police the industry. This means enforcing the laws already on the books — specifically the ones that say you need to have an HVAC license. This way, it would be a level playing field, and the top contractors would not be getting penalized for playing by the rules while the weekend warriors are not punished for cutting corners.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard some contractor complain about moonlighters, unlicensed contractors, or weekend technicians, I would probably have enough money to pay the $7,000 Hess wants to charge for a Texas license. He raises good points. Not only is this hurting the quality of installs — I can’t imagine many of these folks have any type of certification — but it’s driving down the price of a job. These people are not paying for insurance or the rest of the overhead contractors are responsible for.

In these economic times, people don’t want to pay the price for quality. We all know they’ll end up paying more in the long run, but try telling them that. Consumers already have sticker shock when they find out how much a new HVAC system will cost considering they’ll only buy two or three in their lifetimes.

It’s important to point out we’re not talking about one-man shops. These operations are important, and the majority of them do things the right way.

Regarding Hess’ idea — don’t expect to see this in Texas anytime soon. Hess has not exactly gotten a ton of support from the state’s politicians.

“I meet with them, and they all tell me what a great idea it is. Then they don’t do anything,” Hess said.

That sounds like our government. But I think Hess might be on to something. At the end of the day, isn’t $7,000 a small price to pay to clean up the HVAC industry? What do you think about the plan?

Publication date: 8/31/2015 

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