Whenever the conversation turns to how we get younger talent into the HVAC industry — and that conversation happens a lot — I always think of a message that former HARDI president Don Frendberg shared with me years ago.
“I encourage everyone in the industry to talk about the industry. Tell people what you do. Talk to neighbors and friends. There is no one more enthusiastic about HVAC than the people doing it,” Frendberg said. “A lot of people are passionate about the industry, but they don’t tell anyone about it. I am as guilty as anyone. We do our job, but do we tell anyone else about it? Not really.”
Well, Bill Spohn, president and CEO of TruTechTools.com, is taking that advice to an entirely different level. His plan is to take the HVAC message to space – quite literally.
Since 2007, Jared Isaacman — two-time successful entrepreneur, aviator, and founder of payment processer Shift4Payments — has been searching for a private aerospace company that would be able to fulfill his dream of flying in space. Shortly after Elon Musk’s SpaceX flew the first ever manned space flight in June 2020, Isaacman’s discussions with Musk panned out leading to the first civilian space flight, planned for October 2021.
That is where Spohn comes into the picture. His company — TruTechTools.com — is an ecommerce site where HVAC contractors and technicians can purchase tools. As luck would have it, the company had recently switched to the Shift4Payments ecommerce platform.
Three people will be joining Isaacman on this flight. Isaacman, who has committed over $100 million to St. Jude’s Children Hospital and is looking to raise awareness to raise $200 million more, has dedicated two seats to St. Jude’s. One spot was recently announced and went to Hayley Acreneaux, a childhood bone cancer survivor and current physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The third seat will be awarded in a contest for St. Jude fundraising.
However, Spohn is eyeing that fourth seat, which will come from the winner of an entrepreneur competition sponsored by Shift4Shop. This seat is to represent prosperity. You might have seen the Super Bowl ad this year. The spot is for “an inspirational entrepreneur who has used the power of Shift4Shop to launch their dream business.”
When he heard about the contest, Spohn knew he was all in.
“As a kid, I was always taking things apart and trying to put it back together. I was told from a young age that I was going to be an engineer,” Spohn said. “Then when I was 10 years old, I saw us land on the moon. And I immediately wanted to go into space.”
The contest entails creating a video explaining the journey as an entrepreneur. It will be judged on both content and how viral the video goes — how many people watch and share it. You can check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP1AF__gtkc.
What started as a dream of a young boy suddenly is somewhat within Spohn’s grasp. He says it is difficult to put into words what this would mean.
“I would just be thrilled and crying if they tell me I have a spot,” Spohn said. “It would be unbelievable. I would be very proud and would want to talk up the HVAC industry with any publicity that comes with it. I want to talk about all the good things that are being done in HVAC for people in regards to comfort, health, and building performance. HVAC is what I have devoted my life to.”
Spohn is off to a good start. Social media traffic on his platforms is up almost 600%. His video outlines his HVAC passion and journey.
“I always wanted to own a business, but it took years of experience and sweat before I could make it successful,” Spohn said.
The business started by shipping products out of a bedroom in his business partner’s house with a website developed by a high school student. They did $70,000 of business the first year and then grew 1,000% in the second year. The success has continued as they have grown between 20-30% each of the last four years.
“Many people talk about a 5,000-foot view of their company. I want a 5 million foot view from orbit,” Spohn said.
It is quite a story. One that hopefully brings awareness to HVAC.