One of my favorite words is accountability. It has such a nice ring to it. As parents, we know all about the definition of the word.

My eight-year-old son is in the third grade, and the buzzword for his grade level is, you guessed it, accountability. He is responsible for much more of his own actions than ever before. He has been told that children of his age bracket must start being accountable for homework assignments and communications between teacher and parents.

He has no choice. He must behave responsibly.

In the business world, people must behave responsibly, too. They must be accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, the hvacr trade continues to be haunted by business “owners” who perform sub-par work, hire inexperienced workers, contract with unlicensed subcontractors, are themselves unlicensed, and who sacrifice quality for quantity for the sake of making a buck. Many of them drive around in unmarked vans, hand out business cards and flyers on which the ink is barely dry, and have a number of aliases and addresses.

At least there is one organization that is making a difference and handing unscrupulous contractors their just desserts.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), headquartered in Austin, TX, is a state regulatory agency that currently oversees 20 types of businesses, industries, trades, and occupations, one of which is air conditioning contractors. The agency is responsible for issuing licenses, conducting inspections, investigating complaints, assessing penalties, setting rules and standards, and holding hearings.

The TDLR has taken action against contractors for a variety of violations. I excerpted some examples of a few actions to give you an idea of how they police our trade.

Case Studies

One contractor was cited for “Advertising on five separate occasions in flyers, coupons, and magazines for environmental air conditioning and biomedical remediation treatments, without first obtaining the required license.”

The action: “Immediately cease and desist from acting as, impersonating, performing, or offering to perform work as an air conditioning contractor.”

Another contractor’s offense was described as follows: “Respondent performed air conditioning and refrigeration contracting without first obtaining the required license and failed to provide proper installation by failing to pull a permit before beginning work.”

The action: “Ordered to pay an administrative penalty of $2,000.00.”

This One Will Leave

Sounds like this person was not playing by the rules: “Performing air conditioning and refrigeration contracting without a license, failure to provide proper installation, service, or mechanical integrity on numerous occasions, operating a permanent office without first employing a full time license holder whose license is assigned to them, sending unlicensed subcontractors to design and sell air conditioning systems, advertising on a business card that they engage in the business of air conditioning and refrigeration contracting, and advertising on a flyer given to customers that they perform air conditioning and refrigeration contracting.”

The action? This will put a dent in the profits: “Ordered to pay an administrative penalty of $62,000.00.”

What? No cease and desist order?

Anyway, I think you get the picture. It would be comforting to know that we have these watchful eyes all around the country. Sadly, there aren’t enough eyes.

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

Publication date: 11/26/2001