Many thought-provoking messages arrive here atThe News.Sometimes we get priceless gems, such as the recent note submitted by Jim Price.

Rather than paraphrase what this service technician from Bryan and Sons Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Wickliffe, OH, passed along to The News staff, let me pass his message along for all of you to read. I truly believe Price’s words of wisdom:

“After graduating from high school, attending day and night school, getting an associate’s degree and finally my bachelor’s degree, and moving away from home and then moving back home, the last thing I wanted to hear was that you never stop learning.

“I grew up in the heating and air conditioning business, working long, hot summers for a company that was not afraid to teach a kid how to be a better part of the industry. I carried tools and was a ‘gofer’ — or as my boss used to call the position, a ‘stepandfetchet,’ as in, ‘I need it, so step and fetch it.’ I began to learn small tasks, like running a condensate drain or attempting a gas line. (I still turn out a crooked one occasionally.)

“All the while, I knew I was destined to go to college. I learned earnestly, but always assumed that I would find some job in the magical corporate realm, exchanging my college diploma for $70 grand a year and an office with two windows.


“Summer after summer and whenever else I could, I would come back to work for the same people, learning more and more. They made jokes about ‘reeling me in’ and we all laughed. I finally reached a point (assisted by hernia surgery) where I decided it was time for me to strike out on my own and quit the job that I had held for six years.

“It was a watershed moment for me.

“The good people I worked with went out and bought me all of the school supplies I would need for a year in college, as well as a nice check to send me off into a bright new future — with a supportive shove from the place and the people I had grown up with.

“As I went through what was to be my second to last year of college, I found myself missing the business that had been so much a part of my life. When people asked me what I did for a living, I found myself saying, ‘I do heating and air cond-…I mean, I’m in college.’

“It’s funny how those you know can have an enormous impact on the rest of your life without even realizing it. A person who knew me well, and spent a lot of time with me through my transition, said, ‘Dammit Jimmy, you know you can’t leave that business. You love it too much!’ Her words struck me pretty hard. I wondered why was I wasting all of this time in classes like public speaking, rhetoric, business communications, etc.

“I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

“I tried some other jobs, even sat at a desk for awhile, but my mind always wandered back to the industry and the people. One day the dorm I lived in had problems with the chiller that supplied the air conditioning to my building. I skipped classes to go with the tech and look at the system. I realized I was hooked.


“I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in business communications. I can say, without a doubt, that I do apply everything I have learned in my college education directly to my career as a service tech.

“I find myself being accountable for my own total professionalism. This includes technical expertise, thorough competence, ethical standards that my company demands be beyond reproach, salesmanship, and a work ethic that demands complete commitment.

“People sometimes ask why I’m still in the hvacr service field after earning a college degree. To tell the truth, after eight years in the business, I wonder how anyone can be in this industry without a degree. I may be a young face in the hvacr field, but I have the tools and knowledge I need, as well as the backing of professionals who share what they know and encourage me to be the best technician that I can be — allowing me to grow with a dynamic industry that is poised on the verge of a great rebirth.

“I can sum up my views of our industry in two sentences:

1. Change is constant.

2. Learn or lose.”

Well said, Jim.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 09/03/2001