How many times have you entered a contest and then lamented, "I never win anything"? I thought that would surely be the case when my wife, Janet, entered me in a "New You for the New Year" makeover contest sponsored by Detroit-area radio station WMGC, "Magic 105.1." She asked me to e-mail her letter and an unflattering picture of myself. These days, most of my pics are unflattering.

I did it to placate her, knowing that, indeed, the radio station would never choose me. I think the most I ever won was $75 on a lottery ticket. Someone else always wins - not me.

I was wrong.

I was a little shocked and embarrassed when I was announced as one of two winners (a male and female were chosen). I mean, did Janet think I was that bad to begin with?

Actually, she did it because she wanted me to take care of my neglected teeth, as I have spent the last few years paying for braces for both kids and some expensive work on Janet's teeth, too. I wanted all of them to have good teeth and waited to take care of mine. The radio station liked that story.

Wait, There's More ...

Not only am I catching up on a lot of oral work, including bridges, caps, whitening, etc., I am also getting some other interesting things done.

The prizes include lasik eye surgery (goodbye, glasses), major plastic surgery (goodbye, waistline overhang), minor plastic surgery (goodbye, turkey jowls), and family membership in a fitness club. None of the plastic surgery procedures have been finalized, so some things may change.

There will be a good deal of hype at the radio station's Web site (, in case you want to follow my travails.

The station would like to wrap up the procedures in time for a late-April or early-May celebration. Based on my work and travel schedule, this will be a very interesting two months.

The HVACR Angle

I began thinking about the many HVACR contractors who have - in a sense - experienced their own extreme makeovers. I am talking about the men and women who have undergone a business transformation and turned a losing business into a successful one.

I know there are many examples of people who have turned their businesses around. I have met these people in my visits with contractors across the United States and Canada. These are people who have winning attitudes and do not accept defeat.

These are also the people that I would like to hear from. How many of you would benefit from learning about a peer who fought through tough times to persevere? Would you like to know how they did it? I would. I would like to know what these people did to make themselves profitable and solvent. I bet you would like to know, too.

I already have a couple of contractors lined up who would like to tell their stories. Maybe we can ride the popular wave of extreme makeover stories and start a new feature in The News. All it takes is a phone call or e-mail to me, and we can tell your story, too.

Hey, if I'm willing to spill the beans about my makeover, the least you can do is tell me about yours. Who's first?

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 03/15/2004