Where else but this column could someone pick the NCAA collegiate basketball champion and offer up some free advice for our readers at the same time? I’ll go out on a limb and say that this unique blend of predicting a winner and giving successful hvacr contracting business tips is a first for our trade media.

I know enough about our business to know that we are not all business. We enjoy a lively game of golf with our peers, often a common sight among ACCA Mix Group members. We enjoy fishing and hunting trips with our suppliers and customers. We attend sporting events with employees and their families. Taking a break from the rigors of running a business is a necessity for our readers.

You guys know who I’m talking about. Right, Bobby? Right, Ray? Right, Steve? Right, Vince? But I’m not a name-dropper. A lot of people enjoy a respite from crunching numbers, busting knuckles, and spoon-feeding unhappy customers. In other words, a little fun goes a long way.

So now that we are in the midst of the greatest sporting spectacle in the world — the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a.k.a. March Madness — it is time to be a little creative and appeal to the business and pleasure nerve endings of our readers.

So here is my challenge.


Chances are that some of the powder puffs and Cinderella teams will be out of the tournament by the time this column is published. (I am writing this on the day after the announcement of the 65-team field.) I doubt that the winner of the Alcorn State/Siena game, to determine the 64th team, will still be amongst the Sweet Sixteen who survived the first weekend round of games. But if there is a team running under the radar screen, you might want to keep playing the underdog card.

Are you the adventurous type who likes to pick the underdog? Would you prefer to pick a sleeper like Mississippi State (my sleeper pick) or do you go for the favorite like Duke? Whatever the case, it is time to show us your propensity to prognosticate.

I’d like readers to send me their picks for which teams they believe will make the Final Four and their choice for the eventual winner. But there are a couple of catches.

When you send your picks, I’d like you to tell me what was the best business decision you made in 2001. I have to assume that this was a money-saving or money-making decision. Maybe you hired a brilliant bookkeeper, invested in new dispatching software, discovered a tool that field mechanics can’t do without, or instituted a new marketing plan. Tell us about it.

The first 50 people who send in their picks and success stories will automatically get a handsome News travel mug. The person who correctly identifies the Final Four contestants and the eventual champion will win a free subscription to The News.

Note: Your entries must arrive on my desktop or inbox by noon on March 21. That means you have a couple of days to send your picks and your successful business ideas. So hurry up!

In the event that more than one entrant picks the correct Final Four contestants and the winner, I’d like readers to pick the final score of the championship game, too.

In the grand scheme of things, everybody wins with this contest. We can all share some winning business ideas and have a little bit of fun, too. C’mon, join in.

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

Publication date: 03/18/2002