To all of the John Stuarts out there, take heart.The News’2nd annual “Best Contractor to Work For” contest will be bigger and better for 2001. This means the “small” contractors will definitely be figured into the equation.

If this is not making any sense, please refer to the Letters to the Editor on page 6. Please read the letter from John Stuart, of Stuart Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc., Westminster, CA. Among the many points Stuart makes, he wants to make sure that The News does not forget the “small contractor.”

Or, to put it in his words: “I mean the ones that actually hold up our industry; the companies that do $500,000 or less and have five and under employees. We are the ones that do all the training for these ‘Best Contractors’ that your articles were about.”

While there may be more than a few who disagree with Stuart’s second sentence, I am in agreement with his first sentence.

In truth, The News did not overlook the small contractor when it introduced the contest late last year. In fact, The News team made a point of creating a contest that would include all contractors — large, small, and everywhere in between. Each staff member was told to discount the size of each entrant. The criteria were what the entrant said and did for his/her employees. That was the main thrust for the judging.

Please examine the winners for 2000. Yes, five of the six winners could be classified as “large contractors,” based upon Stuart’s definition. However, winner Runnemede Heating Co. (Runnemede, NJ) is not necessarily in that category, as there are 24 employees total on its payroll. Honorable mention Gilley’s Quality Service Experts (West Monroe, LA) employs 25.

No, size did not matter. In this first-ever contest, it was what the entrant said and did that counted. (And, of course, this required The News to verify what the entrant said and did was and is true, and that was accomplished by talking to employees, customers, etc.)

We took this contest seriously — just as serious as Stuart’s message to us.

Keep those cards and letters coming

Take heart in the knowledge thatThe Newswill probably have more entry classifications for the 2001 contest. And, it just may be that we will have a classification for “small contractors.”

The bottom line, John Stuart? Your point is well taken. The News team will take all suggestions into consideration before producing the entry classifications, rules, form, etc.

Therefore, if you — the collective all of you out there — have more suggestions regarding the second annual “Best Contractor to Work For” contest, please forward your comments to The News, c/o editor Mark Skaer, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 1000, Troy, MI 48084. You can also pass along hints via fax (248-362-0317) and/or by e-mail (

Also know that the 2001 contest will be open for business sooner than the initial 2000 contest. Expect to see the revised entry form in late summer. Again, this is going to happen in order to give contractors more time to enter before the entry deadline.

The News will certainly give you a “heads up” on when the entry form will be published, both within these pages and on The News’ website,

Here’s hoping more small contractors enter in 2001. We certainly want to recognize this section of the industry.

In truth, I have already received a few “suggestions” from readers. One mentioned that there are not enough contractor “awards” — period — and, to put it in his words, “these days that is a marketable item, with extreme interest for contractors.” In his mind, The News should have quarterly awards.

Hmmm. Maybe. The bottom line: Every suggestion passed on will be taken into consideration.

Have an idea? Let’s hear it.