The early returns are in. Frank Hierholzer appears to have a strong following.


OK, Hierholzer is better known as “Frank from Philly” — or at least that’s how he identifies himself in chat room circles. He has tantalized visitors to two specific hvacr-related websites over the past few years with his whimsical forays into lands of backed-up sewers and cracked heat exchangers. He also drops in occasionally to our website’s Hvacr Forum area at www.

Hierholzer produced his first humor/real life column for The News in the Jan. 29 issue (“Philly Frank and the Raiders of the Lost Spark,” page 117). Comments about his column popped up the same day it appeared on our website. Since then, several of Hierholzer’s peers have chimed in with their approval.

Because I browse hvacr-related chat rooms to get a feel of what’s going on in the industry, Hierholzer’s unusual humor and quick wit caught my attention. It’s why we asked him to contribute an occasional column to The News.


Of course, the format ofThe Newsis geared toward the bulk of our readership: contractor-owners and managers. We take great pride in bringing stories to our contractor-subscribers that will help their bottom line, plus keep them informed of what’s going on in the industry. That has been and always will be our mission.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t give a high five to Hierholzer and the new “look” he brings to The News. His light-hearted look at the world of field mechanics is one that readers can identify with, since so many contractors started in the field and still spend a great deal of time there. (By the way, Hierholzer owns his own plumbing and heating business, too: J.F. Hierholzer Mechanical and Electric in Philadelphia, PA.)

In our business, like many other service industries, there are “fraternities” of business owners, the men and women who network with each other and discuss business concerns over long distances.

The same types of groups exist among field workers, too. Luckily for them and contractors, the Internet has brought many close together who would otherwise never get the chance to meet or converse. Service mechanics always have a good story to tell, a good recommendation to make, and more than a few good laughs to share with others. And now they can do it over the Internet, spanning cities, states, and continents.


Last year,The Newsran a very well-received three-part series, entitled “Why Technicians Leave.” It was eye-opening to some people.

We also ran a survey asking what technicians want most from their employers. And the answer? Not money. Not benefits, either. They want respect and recognition for a job well done.

If you read what some of the technicians post on these websites, you get that same sense. They talk about jobs they work on, problems that spring up, what types of parts and equipment they find work best, and, yes, an occasional comment about their employer.

Healthy, eye-opening discussions. Some are serious, and some are fun. When “Frank from Philly” shows up, the fun usually begins.

I don’t doubt that contractors who visit these sites have chuckled over a few of Hierholzer’s pontifications. I’m sure he’ll have everybody chuckling in future issues of The News, too.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-543-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 02/12/2001