It’s that time of the year again: time to show your boss how much you care about him or her. It’s time to get out and vote — for the “Best Contractor to Work For.”

You might call this the ultimate brown-nose contest available to employees of hvacr contractors. To be honest, telling us about the great company you work for is sure to earn you some brownie points. But in the bigger picture, it will help us at The News choose who we believe are the seven best contactors to work for. (Seven represents the number of U.S. regions covered by The News.)

In this, our third annual contest, employees are encouraged to fill out the entry blank (see page 22) and give us a detailed reason why you like working at your business. You can also describe some of the winning qualities of your boss and the company’s policies.

This year’s contest may take on a new flavor. I suspect some employees will include examples of how their bosses responded to the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Being generous and giving to victims of the attacks is not a prerequisite for entering or winning. However, I believe we will see several examples of this business model, which is taking over our trade and many other U.S. businesses.

Nowadays, offering good wages and benefits is not always enough to keep employees happy and content to stay. There are often other reasons beyond the normal which affect an employee’s decision to stay and work; and to want to advance to a higher position of responsibility.

The Winners’ Circle

Past winners have shared some of their secrets to success:

  • James River Heating and A/C, Richmond, VA, offers life and disability insurance as well as a 401K program and profit sharing.
  • Cropp-Metcalfe A/C & Heating, Fairfax, VA, offers awards and recognition during training, as well as co-op spending on employee shoes, jackets, and overalls.
  • Atomatic Mechanical Services, Inc., Hoffman Estates, IL, offers a wide range of social events, including a holiday dinner dance, summer family picnic, fishing trips, sporting events, whitewater rafting, etc.
  • Tri-City Mechanical/Comfort Systems USA, Chandler, AZ, offers a Ford and GM vehicle purchase program, health club discounts, healthy lifestyle discounts, and daycare discounts.
  • And Keil Heating and Air Conditioning, Riverdale, NJ, goes the extra mile to make sure techs are working in safe conditions and are steadily employed year round.
  • I bet you are nodding your head, acknowledging that your boss offers similar benefits and more. If you feel your “comfort zone” is just as good or better than employees of our past winners, then sit down with the entry form and tell us about it.

    I know of several contractors who offer wonderful working and learning environments. Add to those the number of contractors who have stepped up to the plate in the wake of our recent tragedies — we have a lot of good and worthy contractors to choose from.

    What are the rewards for winning? Materially, not a whole lot: a very nice plaque. But beyond that, lots!

    Winners are recognized in the pages of The News and are presented with their plaques at the ACCA National Conference (February 2002 in Kissimmee, FL). But the winners get even more out of winning.

    One former award winner told me that the recognition has resulted in more interest from job seekers. His recruitment task is much easier because applicants know they are applying to work at a business that is recognized as “one of the best to work for” in the hvacr trade. The award also validates the strong relationship between management and staff.

    There are other reasons why winning this award is important. The News will highlight them in the coming weeks.

    In the meantime, if you are a business owner or manager and are reading this before any of your staff, here is a suggestion: Photocopy the aforementioned registration form and put a copy in your employees’ pay vouchers or checks this week, or leave copies out in the break room.

    Good luck!

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

    Publication date: 10/22/2001