Who are the Fabulous Five for 2006? You determine that. For the past seven years,The NEWShas been honoring the best contractors in the business. Not just any contractors, mind you, but the best contractors to work for. In 1999, we wanted to come up with a contest that was not only different than the rest, but also better than the rest. Not just the bland "Contractor of the Year" award. Or ordinary "Top Residential Contractor" or same old "Top Commercial Contractor."

No, we wanted to put a spotlight on those contracting businesses that create and maintain a nurturing environment for employees, provide opportunities for growth and ongoing training, and recognize and reward achievement. We wanted to find the contractors that have the amazing knack to hire and keep quality employees. We wanted to honor those who know the importance of training, provide healthy benefits, keep a safe work environment, and treat inside customers on the same level as outside customers.

This search is not about the size of a company or how much money it takes in. Instead, The NEWS' "Best Contractor to Work For" contest is about caring contractors who treat their employees right. With such a business attitude and philosophy, it's no wonder that these businesses are successful.

THE LOWDOWN

Each of the five winners will be featured in the Jan. 29, 2007 issue of The NEWS. One winner will be selected among the entries from Canada, and a winner will be selected from each of these four regions of the United States: West, North Central, South, and East.

For the record, Air Systems Engineering Inc., out of Tacoma, Wash., was the 2005 winner from the West. Taking the top spot out of the North Central was A. Leechman Heating & Cooling, out of Des Moines, Iowa. South winner was Lyons Service, out of Bowling Green, Ky. And voted the best from the East was Howell's Heating and Air Conditioning, located in Ashland, Va. And, voted the top contractor in Canada was Atlas Air ClimateCare, in Mississauga, Ontario.

If you know anything about these businesses, you know each are deserving of the honor. If you believe your firm ranks right up there with this class, do not hesitate to enter. You can find an entry form on page 53 of this issue. Nominations from employees can also be made online at The NEWS' Website, www.achrnews.com. The deadline for entries is Nov. 6, 2006.

GOOD THINGS HAPPEN

It may be just a coincidence, but good things happen to those who win this title. If anything, being named the best contractor to work for is a morale booster for all concerned. And, in the end, that can go a long way. Just ask Dewey Jenkins, owner of Morris-Jenkins Co., Charlotte, N.C., who was one of the 2004 winners.

"We promoted it to our employees at all department meetings and at our monthly company breakfast," said Jenkins. "Our employees shared the news with their spouses and many of the spouses called to congratulate us. I loved this. I have found that if the spouse has a favorable opinion of our company, then we end up with a long-term employee."

Gene Gruber, general manager of 2004 winner Gallagher's Heating and Air Conditioning, Los Molinos, Calif., was just as happy with the end results.

"More than what it did in the minds of people outside our company, I like what it did to the morale of our employees," he said. "We already had a great bunch of people with great attitudes, but the pride of winning the award was obvious."

It does not hurt the recruitment process, either.

"If someone is on the fence trying to decide between two potential employers, I think that being a NEWS' ‘Best Contractor to Work For' [winner] definitely worked in our favor," expressed another 2004 winner, Chris Elder, general manager of service at Calvert-Jones Co. Inc., Alexandria, Va.

Need we say more? Go ahead. Enter. You can't win if you do not submit an entry.

Publication date: 08/07/2006