Before getting to that particular article, however, there was a feature on magnate Ted Turner. Because I have an interest in sports and successful people — and, in this particular case, time on my hands — I decided to read Claudia Dreifus’ interview with the founder of CNN. What hit me were Turner’s comments regarding women.
What would happen if the hvacr industry were run primarily by women rather than men? What if women ran the industry for the next 100 years? Do you think the industry would be in better shape than it is now?
Before you supply that knee-jerk reaction, just think about it a minute. If women had a say in what’s going on, I have a strong feeling the industry would not have a technician or manpower shortage. It is my feeling that they’d find a way to glamorize the industry, point out its great points, market the hell out of it, and draw employees to the industry instead of away from it.
This is certainly generalizing, but for the most part, I’d say that women have a better intuitive grasp of marketing than men do. And strong marketing is what this industry needs.
In my estimation, the industry has remained stagnant and unexciting because it has been operated by penguins far too long.
Let me explain.
At a recent management seminar I attended, the instructor pulled out this short film regarding penguins and peacocks. In this animated film, the penguins ruled the world and everyone had to conform to what the penguins did. When a peacock came along and challenged the penguin system, the peacock was shut down. What? Change? Are you crazy? Heck, the penguins even tried to make the peacocks dress like them “to fit in.”
Not until the threat of a takeover by the wolves did the penguins begin listening to the peacocks. What the peacocks were saying made sense. Thanks to the peacocks, the penguins were saved from an overthrow.
See any comparisons here? I do. It is my hope, of course, that it doesn’t take a near disaster before this industry listens to others outside the arena. The film’s lesson was to encourage everyone to be an active listener and that change can be a good thing.
Things Are ChangingWhich leads me to Lisa Carter of Carter Service (Greenwood, IN). At a recent seminar, this woman, who works with her husband growing their business, urged contractors to look beyond pricing in order to increase profits. She discussed ways to justify higher pricing — by supplying a solid reputation and focusing on (among other things) service, image, and loyalty.
It all made sense. The men in the crowd went away with some good ideas — and it didn’t seem to matter if they came from a woman or a man.
In some ways, the hvacr industry is like the beer business. Is the beer business all about brewing and distribution? No. It’s all about marketing and image. Just ask Anheuser-Busch.
By the early 1990s, the world’s largest brewer was slipping. Bud was becoming your dad’s beer. As A-B fended off imports on one hand and microbrews on the other, its pedestrian marketing was symbolized by the annual “Bud Bowl”; still effective, but getting lame.
Cut to 2000. A-B’s “Whassup” ads are a global hit. A-B’s new image is helping it again connect with 21- to 27-year-old beer drinkers, who account for more than 25% of beer sales.
Did the beer change in 10 years? No. The image did.
The hvacr industry needs to regain this youth appeal. It needs a strong marketing program to entice tomorrow’s workforce to join the ranks. Women, I believe, can accomplish this far better than men.
My suggestion is to hire more women, guys. My bet is that you’ll see positive changes.
Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446; 248-362-0317 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
Publication date: 10/23/2000