Public Disinterest

I am writing about John Hall’s comments in the September 18, 2000 issue titled “Great People, Great Food, etc.” I can sympathize with his great angst regarding the award presentation and people not showing up. A lot of us have been there and have seen this happen.

He then goes on to take to task those who didn’t show up, such as distributors and local media. I can’t answer for the distributors, nor should I. They may have their reasons for not being there, including the fact that they couldn’t see the potential for future business.

Then Hall suggests we get angry about the lack of interest in our industry. My question is, why is he so surprised? For many years, especially the earlier years, we did a good job “hiding our light under a basket” while we changed life in this country and in the world. A/c and refrigeration alone allowed people to live where they wanted in comfort and safety.

This changed the whole demo-graphics of this world by allowing people to live in the hot and humid climates of the Southeast and Southwest and the rest of the world.

Why were we so shy about our success? There are quite a few people who didn’t want others to find out what they did, or how they did it. If others knew, they might horn in and take some business or perhaps a job. (Remember, this wasn’t a large industry until the late 1960s and 70s.)

There were also those who tried to promote the “Art of Climate Change” and met with some interest from the media at that time. ASHRAE has always been trying to interest the media and politicians in what the industry was doing. They met with some success, especially during the Energy Crisis of the 70s.

Meanwhile, the use of hvac started snowballing, and before they knew it, it had become a very large and necessary industry. So necessary that it became something the public took for granted. It’s an aging industry that hasn’t come up with anything really new since Willis Carrier and Ruben Trane. Oh, we’ve introduced hermetic compressors, vav and digital controls, but please note these aren’t great breakthroughs like those made in electronics or medicine or the space development that caught the public’s attention.

This is a good business that has given many people practicing it satisfaction and monetary rewards over the years, but to suggest we “pound our chests” in front of the general media is simplistic. What do we pound it about? Think about it.

Lee D. Woods Managing Director E.D.W. Associates, Inc. Mechanical Construction Consultants Cornelius, NC

A Company of One’s Own

In the Sept. 18 issue, there were two “Feedback” letters that were responses to two previous letters. I’d like to respond to both.

First, to “Name Withheld” from the letter titled “Where’s My Motivation” (Aug. 21 issue): I, too have been in this trade since 1978. I worked my way up through the ranks, and got tired of some of the same things that “Name” did. Here’s some advice for “Name” and others like us: “If you don’t like the view, change the scenery.” I left the competitiveness of private industry for an hvac job at a school district. What a great change! The pay was lower, but the benefits were fantastic! There was zero stress and loads of time off! There are similar jobs: hospitals, factories, etc. “Name” should also consider getting into management or training or (dare I say it?) sales. Or, start his own company. Eventually I left my great school district job because I moved north about 350 miles. In my new town, I couldn’t find a similar job, so I took the plunge and started my own company.

This leads me to respond to the July 31 “Feedback” letter “Don’t Give Us the Brush-off” and to the excellent response by Scott Gibson in the Sept. 18 “Feedback,” “The High Cost of Lowballing.” I am a “one man garage guy” and I’m a HIGH BIDDER! I’m proud of my years of experience; I do very high-quality work. I’m a craftsman, not an installer. I’m a state of Oregon, Building Codes Division certified A-level mechanical inspector employed “on call” by a local city’s building department. I’m an officer in my local RSES chapter. Earlier this week I drove 300 miles to attend a two-day seminar on changes to the new International Mechanical Code. All travel, hotel, and seminar fees were paid out of my pocket, and my business was shut down for two days. In contrast to Mr. Gibson’s remarks about most small contractors, I think he would find it interesting that in my area, there are four very large hvac companies that are notorious for their low bids and fast, sloppy work!

Doug Fergus President/General Manager/Service Manager/Estimator/Project Coordinator/Purchasing Agent/Floor Sweeper Doug Fergus Heating and A/C Ashland, OR

Publication date: 10/09/2000