The last time I looked, not one computer has ever committed a crime or murder. Yet, there are plenty of contractors out there who fear “that darn contraption.” Did we make this much commotion when the fax machine was introduced? The telephone?

It’s comforting to know that there are some brave souls — and they were all present at the first-ever e-Contracting Summit, sponsored by The News and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) on Nov. 4. More than 100 attendees came to Baltimore, MD — on a Saturday, no less. Each obviously came with a mission to learn more about that blasted box and how it can improve their respective business.

“I want to learn as much as I can,” said Donnie Payne of Selvey-Payne Heating and Cooling. Here’s a guy who has only been in business for 1 1/2 years, operates a three-person outfit (Payne himself, wife Kim, and fellow partner David Selvey), and works in a rural area (population of Rossville, IN, is in the neighborhood of 2,500). Why would he be interested in developing a company website? Are there even computers in Rossville, IN?

“Oh, we have computers,” assured Payne. “Having a website will just make us that much more professional. It definitely is the wave of the future and I want to be ahead of the game.”

I will be watching Selvey-Payne Heating and Cooling. With that type of business attitude, expect Payne and his company to grow in the residential-light commercial market. If anyone is looking to link up to a progressive contracting firm, here’s one.


In truth, all present had that entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone brought questions they wanted answered, from “Should I link to other sites?” to “What’s broadband?” At times, I felt I was sitting in on a meeting of the secret society of CWUTI (Contractors Who Use The Internet).

“I’m impressed with the class of people here,” commented Greg Rispler of ACDoctor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Watsco. “I was not expecting to see a lot of coats and ties here.”

“I think the most positive note about the e-Contracting Summit was to find out that there is someone else out there just like me,” said Payne. “I met other contractors who are where I am now, have been there, and/or found a way out. I now have contacts with others who can really help me. I now know who to contact regarding someone helping me build that e-commerce site.”

Payne said he will be collaborating with Mike Foraker, general manager of Jennings Heating and Cooling Co., Akron, OH. His company has already established a pretty impressive and progressive website ( Foraker came to learn more ways to improve his site and “just learn.

“Funny, but the people who should be here aren’t here,” he commented. “It’s like preaching to the choir.”


I liked the football analogy main speaker Brian Urbanski, of Real Profits, Inc., made regarding those contractors who embrace the computer, the Internet, and all of the other new technologies. While everyone else will need 10 yards to get a first down, those contractors who are active in these technologies will need only six. Instead of getting six points for a touchdown, it will be 10 for the advanced contractor. You will be ahead of the game.

Panelist Ray Isaac of Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., Rochester, NY, looks at the Internet as another tool. He dished out a lot of good pointers for contractors seeking to start a website.

His nine tips included keeping it simple, updating the site’s information, marketing it (on business cards, phone books, and billboards), installing firewalls for protection, and “making sure everyone understands its value.

“People will buy from us if we have a website,” he said. “This is today’s world. We have to provide what the consumer wants.”

Bob Keingstein of AFGO Technical Services, Inc., Woodside, NY, noted that his sales numbers jumped seven figures in nine months after going online. Don’t believe it? E-mail Keingstein yourself at

The computer and the Internet are not going away, folks. Join CWUTI today.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).