If you look at the cover of this issue, you will see the members of this year’s Top 40 Under 40. This is a list of the top HVAC professionals under 40 years of age. Last year, we introduced this feature, and the attention it garnered exceeded our expectations. So, without avail, here it is again, with 40 fresh faces ready to lead the HVACR industry’s next generation.

I must admit, this is one of my favorite issues. We feel it’s important to highlight the younger generation of HVAC talent. Recruiting people to this field often falls woefully short. With the amount of attention paid to the skilled workforce gap — rightfully so — it’s easy to forget the industry does have a lot of talented younger folks. Even if those numbers fall short to fill everyone’s job openings, it’s important that we recognize these individuals.

Their stories are always very interesting. Sure, there is a healthy dose of people who are in this industry greatly based on the fact that they were born into the family business. They had been a part of their parents’ or grandparents’ businesses from a young age and are now building on those generational legacies. However, there was one individual who took a part-time telemarketing position with an HVAC company and loved it so much she stayed. Another one dropped his nametag at a career fair and found it in front of an HVAC booth — the rest was history. Indeed, this industry has its fair share of “right place, right time” stories.


The one underlying theme that applied to the vast majority of individuals on the list was that somewhere along the line a person in the organization took a chance on them. Sometimes it is tough to pull that trigger and give someone who is a little light on experience a leadership role in your organization. If our list is any indication, a lot of times it can pay off.

Look around at your employees. Is there someone being underutilized? Is there someone not getting a promotion because perhaps some feel he or she has yet to pay the necessary dues? Are you worried about how the older generation will deal with such a young boss? Take a second look and see if anyone in this younger generation would be a match for a position up the corporate ladder.

The younger generation can bring a different type of skill set to these roles. It could be exactly what your organization needs. And I am not just talking about social media and search engine optimization (SEO) skills — although many bring those assets to the table. They also can excel at implementing time-saving tools, being an effective self-manager, and researching the answers to complex problems.

Now, contractors need to be careful. This is not something you do just because you think you should. Contractors need to have the proper people in the proper positions on their payrolls. I ran into this problem more than a few years back. One of my employees was doing pretty good, so I gave her a promotion she was not ready for. Not only did she fail at the job, but her ego would not allow her to slide back into her old job. So, I lost a good employee who was solid at her job and also had to deal with a poor performance for a number of months. Not my finest hour as a manager.

So, do not repeat my mistake. Make sure this is a well-thought-out decision. But also do not sell the younger generation short. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results you get. And, you never know, maybe that employee will be a member of next year’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

Publication date: 8/22/2016

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