I attended a special ceremony this month at my church and was pleasantly surprised by the agenda, which gave recognition to businesses that normally stay in the background.

My church, the First Presbyterian Church of Northville, MI, dedicated its new Christian Life Center and Education Campus, a $4 million addition and renovation to our existing facility, which has been a fixture of this town since the early 1800s. A lot of effort and planning went into this two-year long project, and the end result has been simply amazing.

Senior Pastor Kent Clise arranged to spend a good deal of time during the Sunday services to introduce the companies and the people who were responsible for planning and constructing the new buildings. It was the first time I’d heard of a congregation being given the opportunity to thank architects and engineers for a church construction project — especially in the middle of a Sunday worship service!

Now, you are probably wondering why I am devoting this week’s column to a theological tale, but I have good reason. Here were businesses that were being recognized for their work in the highly personal setting of a Sunday worship service. These are businesses that our own HVACR contractors interface with every day in the routine affairs of project management.

Pastor Clise introduced the design/build team of the Architectural Design Group from Ann Arbor, MI, including the principal, Bob Overhiser, and architect Jennifer Godden. Next, the construction management team of Phoenix Construction, Ypsilanti, MI, was introduced. William Kinley, Phoenix president, Mark Hiser, project manager, and Chris Love, general superintendent, were recognized.

A group of 15 people followed them to the front of the church. All were asked to talk about the project and their own involvement. Each spoke of how they worked well with members of the business community and the church on a project that they called “their own.”

Several rousing ovations rang through the church after the pastor asked us, “What do you want to say to them?”


What is striking about this story is not only the recognition that the construction trades received from the church, but also the sense of responsibility that each person involved took upon him or herself. This is the terminology that is often heard when describing the top-notch contractors in our own trade; the best take ownership of their projects.

On this Sunday, each person spoke of how important it was to satisfy their customers — the church congregation. And each one thanked “us” for allowing them to be a part of the project. They expressed the importance of the new friendships they made while working on the project — friendships that would contribute to lifelong business and personal growth.

Can you imagine such a reception for an HVACR contractor who satisfactorily completes a design/ build project? I can. There are wonderful stories of HVACR contractors who are recognized for the often unheralded work they do.

If you haven’t heard the stories, contact me and I’ll spread the word.


The HVACR contract for the Christian Life Center and Education Campus was awarded to Long Mechanical, a neighbor of the church in Northville. Long did the plumbing work and subbed out the HVAC duties to VJ Esper Sheet Metal and Furnace Works of Livonia, MI. If you’re curious about the project, you can view it at the Church’s website (www.firstpresnville.org).

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

Publication date: 09/16/2002