I recently had the privilege of attending the coming out party for the EMCOR Group, the $3.5 billion global electrical and mechanical contracting and facility services company which celebrated its listing on the New York Stock Exchange by hosting a cocktail reception on the floor of the exchange, followed by a dinner in the exchange’s boardroom.This was only my second trip to NYC and certainly my first to Wall Street. For a reporter who spends most of his time visiting heating and cooling contractors across the country, this was a major thrill for me. Being able to walk the floor of the exchange was something I’ve dreamed of doing for as long as I can remember.But this lovable city tried its hardest to keep me from achieving my dream, kind of like how success tries its hardest to stay away from hvacr contractors. Perseverance does pay off.Let me explain.

Manhattan Revisited

In planning my trip to the Big Apple, I chose to take whatever hotel room was available near JFK Airport. I thought having a hotel closer to the airport would be to my benefit, since I was flying out early the following morning. Little did I know that staying out at the airport and commuting into downtown Manhattan was comparable to having root canal surgery.

I’ll spare you the details of the commute. Let’s just say it didn’t pay to try and be fiscally responsible. I should have bitten the bullet and taken a cab directly to my final stop. But like businesspeople everywhere, I had to march to the beat of my own drum and learn from my misfortunes.

By the time I made it to the Stock Exchange, the cocktail reception was over — as was the dinner salad preceding the entrée. The cavernous boardroom was filled with EMCOR executives, their guests…and me, the last to arrive.

I was very impressed by the ambience of the large gathering and the significance of the entire event. In a way, the EMCOR people were all expectant parents waiting for the big event.

Here was a company that ran aground in the mid-90s, emerging from bankruptcy stronger than ever and ready to go public. Frank McGinnis, chairman and ceo, proudly took the opening bell and rang in a new era for his company.

Perserverance Required

Aren’t we all trying to get to Wall Street, metaphorically speaking? Wall Street, to me, symbolizes profitability, which doesn’t come easy. It requires perseverance.

Like a trip through New York City, the road to profitability can be full of detours, snarls, accidents, construction woes, and people who often have problems communicating with one another.

Like EMCOR, many contractors have traveled a bumpy road. But they can turn to modern technology (i.e., the Internet and wireless communication) to find new routes to profitability and stability.

For now, if looks like EMCOR has successfully navigated the long road.

Hvacr contractors can follow the company’s lead. They just have to avoid the costly detours that can bump them off their course —like the ones I blindly took that night in New York.

Oh, did I mention that I took a cab back to Grand Central Station, only to discover that bus service to JFK ended at 10 p.m., making my economical round-trip ticket stub useless?

I better not — unless, of course, you enjoy slapstick.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-6417; 248-362-0317 (fax); halljr@bnp.com.

Publication date: 12/04/2000