Marco Radocaj is the owner of the HVAC contracting business Balance HVAC with his wife, Laura.

Actually, the story starts earlier than that. Let me fill you in. His HVAC journey started in 2005, when he met his future wife at Villanova University. As the story goes, she walked into his sociology class and he introduced himself immediately. According to Marco, within the first five minutes of talking with her, he immediately realized that he would marry her and they would move to her hometown of Vero Beach, Florida.

His wife, Laura Radocaj, is from a big, Italian family who happened to be in the air conditioning business, so Marco was thrown into the trade after they got married and settled back in Florida — just as predicted.

Marco had absolutely no HVAC experience.

“I started from the bottom,” Marco said. “I truly didn’t know the difference between a Phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver. And I was riding with a service technician on my first day on the job.”

There was a big learning curve, but he became a very good service technician through hard work. In 2018, his brother-in-law purchased another HVAC company, and Marco was tasked with overseeing the acquisition as a general manager, even though he had no experience doing anything other than service work. His next air conditioner installation would be his first.

“I had no idea how ducts worked or how ventilation worked,” Marco admitted.

Marco learned a lot from the installation manager, who was staying with the company. Fast forward to 2020 — while the HVAC industry was being deemed essential during the pandemic, his service manager was providing his two weeks’ notice to become a boat captain. Marco was thrust into his own captain’s chair.

“The timing actually worked because those first few weeks in March of 2020, nobody wanted us in their house,” Marco said. “I isolated in front of my computer and Googled how to install an air conditioner. Luckily, I found ACCA.”

He dove into the ACCA website and took all the classes. He learned about Manual S, Manual J, and Manual D, along with a lot of other information. He took a crash course in the trade.

“That is when I learned it is so much bigger than just the appliance and making it blow cold air. The journey in HVAC began in 2005, but I really feel that I actually became a tradesman in 2020 with the help of ACCA,” Marco said. “This is a super nerdy thing, but I say it all the time: I love air conditioning.”

Marco and Laura now run a very successful air conditioning company in Vera Beach, Florida — not simply fixing or changing out systems but looking at the house as a system that can also be referred to as home performance contracting.

In fact, when I was talking with Marco recently, his eyes lit up and his enthusiasm took a jump when I asked him about attic restorations.

Why do I share that story? Because it is not rare in the HVAC industry. I hear these types of stories all the time when I meet a contractor.

OK, maybe not this good of a story. The confidence Marco had when first meeting his wife was impressive. But the overall theme is one that I have heard a lot during my travels. This industry is ripe for opportunities for anyone who wants to work hard and put in the time.

This is the message we should be providing the next generation of workers. There are not many jobs where you begin with absolutely no knowledge of the industry and 15 years later, you are successfully running a business.

And I would argue not just successfully, but being cutting edge by having the knowledge and expertise that some others might not possess.

So, share these types of stories with those thinking, or even not thinking, about joining the HVAC industry. Bring that up during the interview process when you have an applicant looking for their first full-time job.

Oh, and if you are not currently doing it, take a page out of Marco’s book and start looking at the entire home rather than just the product in the box. Like he said, ACCA can certainly help out with that.