Never a Dull Moment

[Editor’s note: This letter is in reference to John R. Hall’s Jan. 8 editorial, “There’s No Need to Wag the Dog.”]

Wow! 2000 was kind of a dud?

I know your publication is primarily focused on hvacr contractors, but for manufacturers the year 2000 was definitely not “less than exciting.” In fact, we were involved so much on the regulatory front that I can’t remember a single year like it!

U.S. DOE — A new level of efficiencies for air conditioners and heat pumps. The Clinton administration had virtually ignored input from manufacturers and economic models for independent contractors, and seemed intent on pushing 13 SEER requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps — way above any economic payback! Imagine what that would mean to the industry. We are still attempting to bring reason to this issue, but have not yet been successful.

Texas TNRCC — In order to try to reduce the air pollution in Texas, the commission tried to force the manufacturers of air conditioners and heat pumps to add a coating to our coils which would “eat” ozone. We hvac manufacturers spent much time and effort to explain that the technology is unproven and expensive (over $1,000 added to the consumer). Imagine what impact that would have on our industry and what precedent that might set for other zealous commissions. The issue is currently shelved, but not over.

California CEC — In order to help reduce their energy problems the CEC seems intent on overriding the national efficiency laws because of their “extreme emergency” and imposing 13 SEER requirements for air conditioners and heat pumps, and higher efficiency requirements of heating equipment sold in their state now! Imagine that impact of “state’s rights” on our industry. The issue is still alive.

Each of these issues is large and required intensive and extensive effort by many manufacturers and incredible effort and coordination by the staff of ARI. With these three issues being addressed simultaneously, you can readily imagine the drain on our collective resources to try to add reasonableness to highly political issues.

No, the year 2000 — particularly the second half — was definitely not a dud for manufacturers. It was more like a doozy!

Robert E.G. Ractliffe Chairman and CEO Nordyne

Working With One’s Spouse Espoused

I just read the article “Husband-Wife Firms: The Risks and Rewards” [Jan. 29] by Heidi Nye. We have owned and operated our own, small hvacr business for four years. I work sales, installations, service, purchasing, etc. My wife keeps the books, processes the billing, takes the customers’ calls, and sometimes goes on parts runs (an excuse to go shopping).

On the side, my wife has her own business of working with a software company where she does on-site software training and accounting support.

She gets to travel all over the United States about every other month. (I think she does it just to get away from me.)

It made my day knowing we are not the only married couple (that survived another monthly billing) with common experiences.

One of Laura’s sayings is, “If I was not your wife, you would talk nicer to me as a hired bookkeeper!” At that moment I proudly turn around and just go install another furnace.

We do love working together and love the time we have to go to the kids’ activities. The article was fun to read. Maybe we all could start a support group.

The only advice I would make is to keep the office out of the house. Even though the customers will still call you at home, try to keep the every- day business out of the home. We moved our office out of our house and it helped keep the house a home.

Mark Wickard Half owner, Wickard Services Bridgeport, NE

Fear of the Unknown

I read John R. Hall’s article on service rates in the Feb. 5 issue. I heartily agree with him.

When I do financial workshops and ask what the rates are, I get ranges from $40 to $60. Although, when I do these workshops in Chicago, the range starts at $100/hour. But these dealers who attend my financial management seminars are already profitable and know what their costs are. It’s like preaching to the choir. They are also on flat rate pricing.

At my seminars, I always ask the question of who is on flat rate. In smaller towns, it averages about 25%. In larger cities (like Chicago), it is about 50%. I have heard no complaints about it. Why aren’t more dealers using it?

Fear I guess. Fear of losing customers, bad press, etc. In my seminars I use a spreadsheet that shows them if they raise their rates just 10%, they could lose 30% of their customers and still make the same net profit. Pretty amazing. It opens their eyes.

David S. Taylor, CMC Certified Management Consultant Dealer Development Group Carrier Corporation

Publication date: 02/26/2001