How’s His Driving Record?

I liked John R. Hall’s column on the squeaky clean technicians [“Finding The Squeaky-Clean Technician,” Jan. 21].

I am a Registered Master Plumber, active in the plumbing and heating business for 68 years. I have a B.S. degree in Human Relations and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. Despite all of this, I have made more bad hires than good ones — and pay dearly for those hiring mistakes.

As with Hall’s opinion, it is true there are a lot of very good people “outside the ranks” that would be OK to hire. But the biggest factor I see about tainted driving records is the fact that the insurance carriers — who insist on a driving record check of every person that’s a prospective employee — determine if any one person can be put on the payroll with the privilege of driving. There are good people that I would like to put on a truck, but can’t.

I don’t have the answers, either.

Robert M. Livingston, Registered Master Plumber, Livingston The Plumber, Johnstown, PA

Ignoring The Obvious

[Editor’s note:This letter is in response to John R. Hall’s Jan. 21 editorial, “Finding The Squeaky-Clean Technician.”] One can’t pick up a trade publication today and not find an article with advice on how to keep, find, promote, care for, or discipline employees. I knew it was only a matter of time when one of you “experts” would suggest that lowering standards might be the answer to the ever-present problem of qualified staffing of our service/construction groups.

The mechanical contracting services community has already been driven to compromise by virtue of the fact that there just aren’t enough “technicians” available to meet our needs. We’ve already settled for “warm bodies,” and now you would suggest that opening the doors to the “druggies” and wannabe racecar drivers is the answer.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been 30 years employed in this industry and have had, and continue to have, the pleasure of associating with some of the best talent in the business. They all passed muster and continue, on a daily basis, to produce a product that they and any organization can be proud of.

Then, of course, there are the horror stories. While not all, but certainly most, of these hiring failures were the result of ignoring the obvious, they were a result of relaxing standards or ignoring my “gut” feeling. Convincing myself that I could “handle” or “influence” some very questionable tendencies: drinking, stealing (time and/or materials), tardiness, or simply not showing up, etc., etc., etc.

Experience has shown that undesirable baggage revealed via a simple pre-employment screening is, more often than not, just the tip of the iceberg.

We owe it to customers, our companies, the industry and, most of all, to those employees that make us proud, to try harder in the fight to raise, not further compromise, standards that we live and work by.

Please, with all due respect, a word for the good guys and some useful, or at least original, strategies on how to find the qualified candidates that we know are out there.

Art Parent, New England Mechanical Services, Inc., A Consolidated Engineering Company, Vernon, CT

Wagered And Lost

I would like to respond to the article “Atlantic City Not A Gamble After All,” the cover story in the Jan. 28 issue ofThe News. Numbers alone do not tell the story about the success or failure of a show.

Ask the exhibitors about the union requirements. You couldn’t open a box or plug something in without a reprimand from the union officials. Also, ask exhibitors how long it took to move things out after the show was over.

Ask people how far out of town their hotel was. Ask people what activities were available to them in the host town. Compared to other host cities, Atlantic City has very little to offer. If you take out every Tom, Dick, and Harry walking around with a free yardstick, what’s left is what matters.

The organization puts on a first-class show. Most of your important visitors come in by plane. If you want to be in a gambling town, go to Las Vegas and skip Atlantic City.

Steve Campbell, Tinley Park, IL