The stage was set for a nice celebration. The winner ofThe NewsBest Hvacr Instructor Award for 2000 (to be announced next week) had a luncheon planned for friends, students, business associates, local politicians, and the media. The invitee list was impressive, and the attendees numbered around 50.

It was a great way to show respect for a person who has given so much to the industry for so many years. I was impressed by the people who took a moment out of their lives to honor our award winner, and to those who told the crowd to tell an anecdote about their former instructor.

So why am I complaining? It’s because of who didn’t attend. A lot of time and expense went into organizing this event. The people who showed up were supportive and enthusiastic about the work for which the person was being honored.

Those who chose not to attend were distributors and the local media.

Missing in Action

Representatives from each group were asked to come. In the case of distributors, the interest was there because students were being trained on the equipment distributors sold to the school, and the good public relations could help them in future dealings with students (potentially future customers), instructors, and contractors (possibly current customers) who attended the event.

This instructor gets most of his classroom products through purchases, and not donations. But beside that, I would think that distributors would have a vested interest in honoring an hvacr instructor who is working hard to keep a keen interest in our industry.

Then there was the absence of the local media. Both The News and the winner contacted several newspapers and TV stations in the area to cover the event as a type of “business brief.” You would think that having a local instructor in a small town win such an award would surely attract some interest from the media, right?

You don’t need a lifeline to guess the correct answer.

One attendee suggested that if there were a hostage taking at the event, the media would show up. I replied that his suggestion had a lot of validity to it, since the hvacr industry doesn’t make news unless it screws up.

I’m not shy when it comes to praising our trade. I am certainly less shy when it comes to others’ ignorance of our trade. We are constantly being put on the back burner, until a sting busts a dishonest contractor. Then watch out — the media comes out of the woodwork.

When a good, hard-working person is being honored for devotion to the trade and a successful track record of preparing people for successful careers, there is little or no interest in reporting the event. It isn’t news.

Well, it’s news to us.

Get Angry

I suggest that people in our profession get angry about the lack of interest in our trade. We need people outside of our world to know about the good things we do. Let’s stop preaching to the choir and start pounding our chests in front of “outside” industries, including the general media.

I recently heard someone say that if a copy machine repairperson or a computer programmer doesn’t show up for work on Monday, it doesn’t cause much of a ripple. But if an hvacr tech doesn’t show up, someone may die.

That’s enough to get people’s attention, don’t you think?

By the way, at least one politician showed up for the educator’s event; in this election year, he was either there to honor our winner or canvass for votes. I commend him for showing up, even though he quickly stepped off his soapbox when he discovered I wasn’t from his district.

At least he showed up.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-6417; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 09/18/2000