I was staring into the campfire, ruminating on the busy vacation day I had just endured. I was thinking about the great time my family had at the Michigan Adventure Park, truly a gem on Michigan’s west coast.

Coincidentally, on this same day, I saw Bowen Refrigeration, Heating & A/C, a local HVACR contractor and winner of The News’ 2001 “Do You Want to Grow Your Business?” contest. They were doing some installation work at a retail store inside this amusement and water park.

The three-man crew was installing five “high wall” air handlers in a building which had never had A/C. The work was taking a few days and could only be done in a small time frame early each morning.

When we visited the store later in the day, I spent all of 30 seconds inside and decided to exit, not enjoying the sweltering indoor temps on this 90-degree day.

All of this got me thinking about how underappreciated our trade is.


Armed with information about “Air Conditioning Appreciation Days” (July 3 to August 15), I sent letters to the major newspapers in my area, touting the importance of air conditioning and how people should stop and hug an HVACR service tech.

Here are a few excerpts from my message to the media:

“Funny how such an important part of our comfortable existence is taken for granted — and often ridiculed. We are thankful for cool indoor temperatures when the mercury soars to unbearable heights during hot summer days. It’s nice to cool off with a dip in the pool or a run through the sprinkler. But nothing beats the relief of stepping into a 70-degree room when your shirt is soaked and your energy is zapped.

“But how many times have you thought about the people who provide that comfort for you? You reluctantly call them when your air conditioning stops working because you’re afraid of getting the bill — and you shake your head in disgust as the local or national TV news station catches several unscrupulous air conditioning contractors in a ‘sting.’

“Yet, these professionals install and service the systems that mean so much to so many people. There are those who prefer to do business in a less-than-honest fashion for incredibly low prices, but you can find them in any profession. The air conditioning trade just seems to attract a lot of bad press because of the actions of a small percentage of ‘alleged’ contractors.

“Besides the usual recommendations for annual inspections of air conditioning equipment and regular filter changes, I’d like to add one more thing: the next time a service technician solves your cooling equipment problem, don’t complain about the bill or strike up a conversation about the latest ‘Dateline’ sting. Give the person a hug. And say thanks for keeping you comfortable.

“And when you think about it, give a hug to the person who fixes your heating equipment, too.”


To my dismay, this letter was never published, so I sent a follow-up to the publishers. Still no reply.

It goes to show where our industry ranks in “newsworthiness.”

At least Marne Rich Keenan, a columnist for The Detroit News, wrote a column recently regarding air conditioning. In her July 16 article, titled “New Central Air Conditioning Brings Peace and a New Crisis,” Keenan raved about her new central air conditioning and how it changed her life for the better.

The “crisis” slant of the story was a question posed by Keenan’s sister-in-law. “Now that you have air,” she asked, “what are you going to blame your cranky moods on?”

Speaking of cranky, I get cranky when the subject of being underappreciated comes up. But I can usually vent my frustrations by zipping off a letter to the editor.

If you’d like to plagiarize any of my letter, feel free to do so. Drop me a line (and fax number) and I’ll send you the complete text along with a copy of Keenan’s column.

Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 724-542-6215 (fax); johnhall@achrnews.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 07/29/2002