As an HVAC contractor and business owner, are you changing the way you handle your employees? It might be time to revisit some decisions and policies you implemented years ago.

Take, for example, tattoos. When I first started with The NEWS about 15 years ago, I remember writing stories where contractors were quoted as saying they would not hire a tech who had a tattoo. And, if they did hire them, those tattoos had to be covered up. These contractors did not like what those tattoos said about their company, and they were worried about the reaction of homeowners.

Fast forward 15 years, and tattoos are even more popular. A recent Harris Poll showed three in 10 Americans have them. That number jumped to four in 10 when talking about millennials. And, not to do a data dump, but of those with tattoos, 69 percent have two or more.

That is a decent-sized chunk of Americans walking around with tattoos. With the HVAC industry struggling to find good employees, is a contractor really comfortable writing off 30 percent of the workforce right off the bat just because they are inked up? If you still hold the belief that your techs should not have tattoos, you might be missing out on some great employees.

Now, I am not saying you need to hire folks with tattoos like Mike Tyson, but I’m sure you can find a middle ground. Contractors need to think about what is right for their company and customers. Who your clients are might help you make that decision.

Another example is facial hair. Like many companies, BNP Media (which publishes The NEWS) participated in Movember. For those not familiar, people (mostly males) grow mustaches throughout the month of November to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer.

Because I tend to go big in whatever I do, I grew out what I will refer to as a “trucker” mustache. Check out the picture running with this article. It started as a beard because I had to attend the Air-Conditiong, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Annual Meeting in early November. I was concerned the look was not horribly professional. The first night I shaved it in, I was horrified and texted some coworkers (who I had told my shaving plans) saying the “stache” would not make it to the morning. But as the days and weeks progressed, the mustache grew on me — pun intended.

As I write this editorial, it is on the eve of the Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) Conference in Las Vegas, and I am debating if it is professional for me to talk with advertisers and readers in my current state. A quick text to some of my friends who are in high management came back with a resounding “you certainly can keep it.”

While I have yet to decide, it is clear that society has come a long way from George Steinbrenner making Don Mattingly shave his sideburns. If you don’t change with the times, you are in danger of being left behind.

I am interested in hearing how business owners feel about this. Please email me at, and we will publish some of the best feedback in our upcoming Letters to the Editor section.

Maybe the feedback will help me decide whether or not I roll into AHR with my trucker stache!