The tiny evergreen tree sitting in front of the podium was not the real story — the new chiller plant was.

The new, cutting-edge facility was the reason why Carrier invited the trade press and 300-plus commercial building owners, facility managers, consulting engineers, and mechanical contractors to Charlotte, NC. Yes, the company’s execs had all of us under a huge, white, air-conditioned tent to help them celebrate the grand opening of the new chiller plant.

Of course, grand openings draw politicians with an almost magnetic pull. Dignitaries present at the April 7 event included North Carolina’s director of industrial recruitment, a representative from Senator John Edwards’ office, and the honorable Susan Burgess, mayor pro tem of Charlotte. When each stepped up to the podium, each (surprise surprise) sang the praises of the 310,000-sq-ft manufacturing plant.

(It was interesting when each official stated that s/he could hardly wait to see the chiller inside. Before cutting the ribbon, John Malloy, president of Carrier’s Commercial Systems and Services, made sure to note that more than one chiller was being built inside.)

After all of the back-patting, it was another matter of course that all who attended received a guided tour of this new rotary chiller facility. And, I must admit, it is rather remarkable. You can read all about it on pages 25 and 26 of this issue.

But about that evergreen tree …

'Revolutionary' pledge

Less than 10 minutes were given to the handing-over-of-the-evergreen ceremony, leaving one to think that it’s no big deal. But think again.

Mecklenburg County officials are scheduled to plant that Carrier-donated tree somewhere appropriate within the confines of the Alexandriana historical site, named for one of that county’s earliest settlers, John McKnitt Alexander. According to county officials, it was on the nearby site (on May 31, 1775, to be exact) that captains of the local militia, alarmed by the news of the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, purportedly signed the “Mecklenburg Resolves,” a provisional declaration of independence from British rule.

This tree symbolizes the manufacturer’s commitment to help restore the historical site. According to corporate officials, Carrier employees will volunteer time to work with that county’s Parks and Recreation Department to help beautify the grounds, including the planting of that evergreen tree.

“As with all of our plant locations, we strive to be a productive part of the community,” said Malloy. “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with the Charlotte community.”

In truth, Charlotte-ians are already happy with the United Technologies Corp. subsidiary. After all, along with its new plant, Carrier is employing local talent, nearly 200 plant technicians and other positions.

Helping right along is the fact that “We involve our employees in the daily results of the factory,” noted Dave Roth, general manager, Commercial Applied Systems. “This means listening and learning from them, and empowering them to take ownership of continuous improvements.”

One could go on and on about how Carrier thought of its future plant employees when it designed its newest plant. After all, the plant is cooled by three of its own Evergreen chillers, and the plant floor is illuminated with sodium vapor lighting set at 50 footcandles to create a warm, natural-light environment.

What have you given back?

However, my thoughts keep coming back to that tiny evergreen tree. The big corporation gave something back to the little community.

There are many contractors out there who are giving back to their respective communities. The News learned a lot from the contractors who entered last year’s “Best Contractor to Work For” contest. Each entrant had a story to tell. Many noted that they do work for charities and needy people.

Why not you, too? Let us know what you are doing in the attempt to “give back” to your community. In future issues of The News, we will report on what some of you contractors are doing to help your local communities. After all, it is nice to read about what good people in this industry are doing to help out, isn’t it.

Why not teach hvacr part-time at the local community college? Why not be on the local school board? Why not help coach an area grade school girls basketball team? Or, how about planting an evergreen tree in your local community park?

The options are endless. In the end, it may help your marketability. Above all, it will make you feel good inside — along with helping your fellow men, women, and children.