Wow, this is my first column of the new millennium. Pardon me, though, if I don’t get too choked up. After all, I’ve had it up the wazzoo with talk about the millennium and Y2K bug.

Geez! Here I am still talking about it. Let’s change the subject.

It appears there’s no getting around the fact that contractors will face the same concerns in the 21st century that they did in the 20th: Where are they going to find a pool of good, eager, career-oriented hvac professionals?

The lack of qualified workers is the number-one problem facing contractors in 2000 and beyond — a problem that is talked about every time I visit a community of hvac businesses. And it is at the very core of our growing list of concerns.

After all, how does a contractor arm himself or herself to fight off utility-manufacturer competition? How does one boost his-her service agreement business and the lucrative add-on business? And, how does one improve the bottom line and locate new accounts and projects?

In each case, the answer is this: with a staff of dedicated and qualified professionals. It may sound like a broken record, but it is a tune we have to keep listening to, over and over again.

Introducing ...

The Newsis tired of spinning the same old record and we plan to do something about it, starting right now. In the next few weeks, we will begin our Work Seekers program. Listen up.

We are inviting colleges and vo-tech schools to encourage their graduating students to write a special “Work Wanted” classified ad for publication in The News. Job seekers should be educated students seeking work as field technicians, either installers or service technicians — the very core of the contractor’s workforce and the positions which need to be filled on a priority basis.

This should not be a generic ad. It should be an eye-catching ad that will specify the type of work the student is looking for, the geographic region the student wishes to relocate to, and the student’s own educational-training experience. We provide an example on this page.

We want students to market themselves. Contractors will be watching and reading — and possibly calling. So make that ad shine.

Ads selected will get national exposure in The News. We plan to publish some winning “Work Wanted” ads in the February 7 issue, and follow up with more winning ads each week thereafter in 2000.

For those students who supply a Work Wanted ad that is printed in The News, he or she will receive, as an added bonus, a free subscription to The News. This is a good deal, students. After all, you need to know about the hvac trade in a timely and informative manner.

We hope that this program, in some small way, will go a long way toward helping contractors find dedicated workers. At the same time, we want students to find outstanding places to work and grow.

The information provided should grab the contractor’s attention. Keep it to 50 words or less. Ads will be broken down into four classifications: Commercial Installation, Commercial Service, Residential Installation, Residential Service. Please be specific about your goals and experience.

The ads will appear under a special Work Seekers display ad in the editorial pages of The News.

If you are a soon-to-graduate student who wants to know more about this new program, contact me (see contact info below). Or, you can fax your questions and/or your Work Wanted ad to my attention.