It’s been a few weeks sinceThe Newsrolled out its second-annual “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. The entries have been filtering in at a steady pace, and I anticipate that the number of nominees will top last year’s total.

I’m so confident in the success of this year’s contest that I’ll make a personal guarantee. I’ll explain later in this column.

This year’s contest has a little extra spice added to it. In case you missed it, The News recently announced it was dividing up the United States into seven geographic regions, and seven News editors will be responsible for covering stories in each one — kind of like having a region all to one’s self.

No doubt in the coming weeks and months readers will be seeing a lot of regional stories springing up, from Butte, Montana to Bangor, Maine. We might be in your neighborhood at any moment — which brings me to the point of this journalistic monologue.

I’d like to have the most entries into the “Best Contractor” contest to come from my region, which happens to be Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. If these were my regions last year, I would have finished in second place. Not good enough. Second place means second best and I’ll have no part of that. Heck, I’ve got Texas, and no Texans want to finish second, right Longhorns?

I’ll admit that I have a distinct advantage over most of my distinguished (soon to be vanquished) editorial colleagues, having a weekly column to rant and rave.

Enough already, I’m not into self-adoration.

But I am into competitiveness, even if the winner of this contest will probably get a pat on the back and a free lunch at Chi-Chi’s. I think the more people get hyped by this contest and the competition therein, the more worthy hvacr contractors will enter the fray.

The News had a lot of great entrants and eventual winners last year. Their creativity, insight, business strategies, and neatly tucked $20 bills in envelopes marked “Confidential: J.R. Hall” were greatly appreciated. (OK, I’m making the last item up.) It was tough to choose among so many solid entries.

So this is war. I am declaring my intention to soundly beat the other six News editors and take home my enchilada. I might as well start writing my acceptance speech right now. Do you hear that, editors?

If, for some inexplicable reason I finish a close second or even further down the totem pole (gasp), I will graciously step back and write a humble column, congratulating my brethren for their victory and head to the parking lot, ice pick in hand, to perform surgery on their tires.

Now, about the guarantee and how you can benefit: If you think I’m not worthy of this title and smell an upset, e-mail me your name and address. I’ll take all of the non-believers and put their name in a hat, weight it down, and send it to the bottom of the lake.

Kidding aside, I’ll draw a name and give that person a free one-year subscription to The News and an invitation to join us at the award presentations at the ACCA Annual Convention next February in Las Vegas. We’ll pay your airfare, provided you are a registered convention-goer (accommodations are your responsibility, but they are usually pretty cheap in Vegas).

Will this encourage hvacr contractors in “other” regions of the country to “stack the deck against me?” (No Vegas pun intended.) Let’s try it and find out. But I wouldn’t make any travel plans just yet.

Want more info? See our ad on page 17 or enter online at

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

Publication date: 10/30/2000