Having too much is not always a good thing. Having too much weight is not necessarily healthy. Having too much stress is not fun. Having too much to do can be overwhelming. Having too much money … well, maybe that might be a good thing. (I wouldn’t know.) Maybe this is a subject that should never be discussed openly, but I guess when you get older, you do get bolder. My question for today is: Is it healthy to have so many contractor organizations and associations in this industry? The common complaint against the hvacr industry is that it is splintered, meaning there is no one organization that speaks for our trade. We are all over the map. For instance, if one were to direct an outsider to the hvacr trade, should the person be directed to ACCA, AMCA, ASHRAE… do I need to go on? Now we have even more contractor group organizations such as Excellence Alliance, International Service Leadership, Air-Time 500, Building Services Institute…do I need to go on? Is this a case of “the more, the merrier” — or, does it just complicate matters? With so many different associations, rules, and regulations, it’s no wonder there is not one certification program that is accepted by this industry. Without unity, what’s left?


Just out of curiosity, I introduced this subject on our Hvacr Forum on our website,www.achrnews.com. Below are three expressed views, but I want to hear from others. I encourage you to jump right in on our website.
  • “You have hit the nail on the head. For years I have said there are too many organizations in our trade. Saying this, I also believe this is the downfall of our industry from a professional standpoint. It seems to be a war between the organizations and associations to see who is the ‘boss.’ This difference does not go down to professionalism of the organization. It goes to the old nemesis: the almighty dollar.

    “Most of the technicians I know can’t afford to join these organizations and ask a valid question: ‘What does it do for me?’ Most of these organizations point to some phony insurance program or a training program that costs a lot and doesn’t really meet the needs of the technician.

    “If you look at the management of the organization, you will find that the people in the home office that actually run the show have never had any trade experience and they are only running a business.

    “Yes, we need one true trade organization that is run and administered by tradesmen that can certify that the people doing the job in our field are qualified, honest, and knowledgeable. This needs to be done at a reasonable price to the technician.”

  • “The question of too many trade organizations? There are quite a few, one must admit. From a lobbying standpoint, if there were only one trade organization it would provide more influence in changing government policy. I would like to always see at least two trade organizations, as competition is a very healthy thing.

    “I don’t see any of them ‘going out of business,’ so there must be a need (market niche) that they are all uniquely filling. About 20% of contractors support the various organizations, so perhaps there truly is a need or room for greater expansion and not a glut as it appears?”

  • “Too many trade organizations? Probably not.

    “As a fisherman your objective is to catch fish. Let’s say in the fishing circles everyone knows that there are millions of fish in a certain area. The water is crystal clear and if there were not so many fish you could see the bottom 20 feet away. Should be like shooting the proverbial ‘fish in a barrel,’ right?

    “Well, not exactly. Every time a net is cast overboard to bring up the catch, the catch slips through the net. The fishermen are dumbfounded. The fish are right there, they should be caught, but due to an innate ability to change shapes, they never will be.

    “The fishermen in our industry are all the trade associations, consultants, and contractor support groups. The fish are the contractors, wholesalers, and engineers.

    “It really doesn’t matter if you have less fishermen working the hot spot. It will not translate into more fish being hauled in. The problem is the fish. Over the years, the fish have been allowed to change shape. Call it lack of licensing, lack of obtaining a certain level of education to enter the business, lack of mandating continual education, or simply the ease of jumping in a truck and calling oneself a contractor.

    “The solution? Not sure. There are some phenomenal fishermen out there. They have the right stuff and they can really bring it. But if you hold honest dialogue with them, they will tell you of their gut-wrenching frustration with the shape-changing fish.”

Interesting. What say you?

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

Publication date: 12/17/2001