I often get my inspirations from some of the strangest places. During a recent trip on Continental Airlines, I even got a chuckle from the pilot.

He came on the intercom as we taxied on to the runway. If you travel, you’re probably all too familiar with the one-way conversation between the crew and passengers. But I detected a slight variance in the captain’s speech this time.

He informed the passengers that the plane had taken on a lot of extra weight, and he asked us to reach up and turn our overhead blowers to the full open position, and then point them toward the back of the plane in order to give it extra thrust.

I watched with a smile as almost half of the passengers dutifully obeyed his instructions.

It reminded me of a simple game I played as a child — Simon Says. How many times have you caught yourself in a more common version of this ageless game, such as looking up in the same direction that someone is pointing, only to realize that they are pointing to an imaginary object? I do it all of time, blaming it on the natural curiosity of a journalist (I say with straight face).

But do you ever catch yourself playing Simon Says when it comes to your business decisions? Are you the person who makes independent decisions, or are you the type who follows along and waits for something to happen?

The hvacr industry is full of innovative, forward thinkers. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many of them. Some have familiar names, having spent years in our trade, starting out by sweeping shop room floors and moving into service or sales, and perhaps eventually to management or ownership. Those who lead by example and steer contractors in new directions earn our respect.

We often act too quickly to scorn those who suggest radical changes. That’s okay, it’s only human nature. Look what happened when consolidation became the buzzword a few years ago. It was new and unproven — at least in our industry. Some people welcomed it and others ridiculed it. Still others chose to ignore it.

Are consolidators forward thinkers, encouraging the industry to follow their Simon Says example? I don’t know. It’s still too early to tell the true effects of consolidation.

Utilities play the game

Who else might fit into the Simon Says mold? Utilities? With deregulation becoming part of the energy industry landscape, some of the common household utilities are looking to the future when energy providers and marketers may cut into their markets, forcing the once invincible giants to find new revenue sources. Some have tried and others have failed to successfully enter the hvacr service business. No doubt, others will follow.

And what about the independent contractor groups such as Excellence Alliance, Inc., Contrac-tors’ Success Group, Contractors 2000, or Airtime 500, to name a few? These groups have led the charge into the “anti-consolidation” arena. These are groups made up of business owners who choose not to play the Simon Says game.

I’m not arguing for or against the Simon Says effect. I think the choices available to contractors today are exciting and innovative. I still marvel at the original thinking of people in our industry. Some of the examples they set are ones to be admired and duplicated. We’ve already seen that what is good for one contractor may not necessarily be good for the other.

Now, it seems the good people in the southeast are suffering from a major heat wave. So dial down your thermostats to 55° and open every window and door in your home or business. That ought to cool down things down a bit.

Uh-oh, I didn’t say “Simon Says.”

Publication date: 08/21/2000