The fax was, to say the least, very difficult to read. Many of the words in the one-page handwritten letter were smudged and, as a result, illegible. The fax machines, apparently, did their respective jobs in getting the piece of paper from Point A to Point B, but the message did get garbled in the process.

“I feel the best contractor to work for is Climate Control Co. in Glenwood Springs. My husband … worked for them going on … years. … This company went …”

Able only to make out a few more words thereafter, I quickly glanced at the signature. The first name was legible — “Gina” — but not the last name. Thank goodness the sender included a phone number. She had to be notified. If the intent was to nominate a firm for The News’ 2002 “Best Contractor To Work For” contest, the person had to submit a completed entry form, just like everyone else.

A quick call was made to the 970 area code.


“Yes,” came the somewhat faint reply.

“I have the fax you sent. I must tell you, though, it is hard to read. Can you help me here?”


As Gina filled in the missing words, the sad story of Skip Bitner unfolded. Skip was a 61-year-old master technician for Climate Control Co., which I now know is out of Glenwood Springs, CO. Mr. Bitner, who had worked for Climate Control three years, passed away on October 4.

In this case, “Gina” is Virginia Bitner, Skip’s wife. Mrs. Bitner was having a difficult time describing that fateful day when her husband died from a massive heart attack. Her voice cracked at times and she excused herself often. The missing words revealed the following message:

“My husband had worked for them going on three years until his sudden death. This company went out of its way to help me deal with my husband’s funeral. They checked in on me and were very sincere if I needed anything. They were there for me. I believe they deserve a special award. Climate Control of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, knows how to look out for its staff.”

Not included in the note was the fact that owner Mark Fergun took care of Skip’s funeral bill. It was obvious that Mrs. Bitner was touched by Fergun’s workers, who came en masse to her husband’s memorial service at Our Kingdom Hall Church.

“They have reached out,” said Gina. “I just wanted to let you know that. My husband used to read your publication.”

Because she still wanted to show her thanks in a special way, I encouraged her to fill out an official “Best Contractor” entry form, which can always be found on our website,

Even though she may not be employed by Climate Control, I encouraged her to do her best in completing the online form — or, to have someone from Climate Control fill in the blanks.

“You are looking for the best contractors to work for, aren’t you?” she asked.

Yes, Virginia, we are.


To say Climate Control has the inside track to being named The News’ best contractor to work for from the West/Pacific region … well … it is far, far too early to tell. However, getting glowing testimonies will not hurt any contractor’s chances.

The key, though, is to enter. Simply, one cannot win if one does not even enter. And, to date, Climate Control has not.

Maybe that’s still on its “to do” list. Time will tell. Going on past history and flow of entries, let’s just say contractors can be like many Christmas shoppers. Translation: Many wait until the last minute.

But know this: The deadline to enter the contest is December 31. And, if you don’t want to enter online, you can fill out and mail in the form found on page 25 of this week’s issue.

Those who win never regret having taken the time.

“It came as a pleasant surprise to see a picture of our commercial servicemen being used in this year’s promotion for your ‘Best Contractor To Work For’ contest,” recently wrote Richard D. Hoffman, president of Atomatic Mechanical Services Inc., Hoffman Estates, IL.

“We’d like to thank you again for the privilege of being chosen the 2000 Midwest-Great Lakes winner and encourage all of your readers to take part in this year’s competition. The overall experience was a pleasure and an honor (not to mention great fun), and we’d recommend it to everyone.”

What are you waiting for?

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

Publication date: 12/3/2001