Full disclosure: I was struggling with what to write about in this column. So I decided to let the readers decide. Time to open up the old HVAC mailbag and address questions or comments from our loyal readers.
Reader: I read with interest your article on June 4 about the Houston television station recommending homeowners replace a capacitor by themselves. The news reporter is not my concern. My bigger issue is the presentation from a person holding a state air conditioning contractor’s license.
Gargaro: You are absolutely right. I failed to point out that fact in my original column. We all know the industry is not going to get a fair shake from the local media. An HVAC contractor delivering superior customer service for their clients is not good TV.
In case you did not see the video, a local Houston contractor walked the local news crew through how a homeowner could purchase and replace an air conditioning capacitor. The industry has to be better than that. Sure, the contractor got some television face time in his local market, but he did a great disservice to the industry by insinuating that DIYers can do jobs that contractors should be doing. Not to mention causing a potential safety problem for homeowners.
Reader: Do you think the recent tariffs are good or bad for the HVAC industry?
Gargaro: Important to point out that I am not an economist, so I can’t speak to how the tariffs will affect the economy. I have spoken to more than a few in the HVAC industry, and I can tell you that the leadership of the industry is not excited about this.
Our cover story this week outlines a lot of the ways this might affect the industry, but the bottom line is the units are going to cost more. The tariffs were announced on March 1. Since then, we have run 19 manufacturer price increase announcements in this publication — most in the 5 to 10 percent range. Usually, these happen at the beginning of the year and rarely in those numbers. For example, over the same time period last year, we did not run one price increase.
As always, contractors need to be proactive. I heard about a contractor in Indianapolis who is using it as a selling point. Buy this new system now because prices might go up substantially as these tariffs continue to take shape. The same type of strategy that was done right before new efficiency regulations. Might be the best way to handle a difficult situation.
Reader: We recently received your supplement magazine concerning HVAC and the marijuana industry. Our federal and state government still consider the marijuana business and practice illegal. I am wondering why you are writing about this illegal activity?
Gargaro: I certainly understand your point of view. For me, we looked at the fact that marijuana is legal in 30 of the 50 states, and in those states, there is an opportunity for business. Being a national magazine, I feel we would be negligent in our duty to the reader if we did not inform them of an opportunity that might be available. After that, they get to decide.
And there does seem to be a big opportunity in this market. Manufacturers are beginning to design and produce products specifically for this area. I realize it can be a somewhat tough decision for some. I talked to one manufacturer who said they had extensive meetings to figure out how this would affect the public relations of their company. They decided to go forward and are very happy they did.
It is up to the individual contractors to make their own decisions.
If you want your question answered in a future mailbag column, please email your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: 7/9/2018