We tried. In this issue, The News features some of the more financially successful residential contractors in the business. We call them our Residential All-Stars.

Our original intent was to honor the top 50 residential dealers in replacement and new construction, but we found out that we had to tweak that idea somewhat in mid-stream when many potential candidates opted not to participate.

The main reason for bowing out? Answer: Fear of disclosing financial matters.

Plain and simple, many top-notch contractors felt uneasy in showing the industry what they make. (Or, at least that’s what they told us.) In the back of my mind, I still believe some potential candidates backed away because they did not understand The News’ goal. I believe some really thought we were the evil competitor on the telephone and just flat-out hung up.

After several tries, we left well enough alone.

And, we must admit, we were unable to reach each and every potential candidate. Hey, we may have called at the wrong time. Sorry. But, we did try to touch base again, left voice-mail message after voice-mail message, and even faxed and e-mailed more than a few hard-to-reach owners more than a few times.

This might explain why your firm is not included among our Residential All-Star list. It’s not that we deliberately missed you. We just did not connect, for one reason or another.

This is not to say the contractors we assembled in this issue are not deserving. Not by a long shot. When you produce $130 million in the residential new construction market, well, that’s very respectable — wouldn’t you agree? Earning that same amount in residential replacement/add-on is a commendable accomplishment, too.

Just know this: If you believe your firm should be on our All-Star list next year — yes, we plan on doing this again in late August 2004 — give us a call. We really do not want to exclude any residential contractor who deserves to be so noted among the financially successful.

Just don’t be afraid to show the world your income. That’s the key.

News Business Management Editor John Hall shakes the hand of John Boyce, co-owner of Airco Service Inc., Tulsa, Okla., last year's "Best Contractor To Work For" winner in the South/Southwest region.

A Different Contest For You To Enter

On the other side of the coin, money is not the issue in our annual “Best Contractor To Work For” contest, which we kick off this week. This competition differs greatly from selecting the financially successful All-Stars. In this case, we are looking for contractors — small, medium, or large, residential or commercial, it does not matter — who treat their employees right. We want to honor those who go above and beyond to provide a secure, friendly environment for employees, offering workers continuing education and opportunities for career advancement.

While we did research to locate the top revenue-producing firms noted in this issue, please know we will not be calling anyone to see if you want to participate in our “Best Contractor” contest. It’s all up to you. If you have a boss that is great to work for, tell us why and nominate him or her accordingly. An entry form is located on page 34. One can also go to our Web site (on The News home page) and fill out the questionnaire online.

Don’t be shy. Fill us in on all of the details. The more we know about your place of business, the better off we all are. Entry deadline is December 1.

The News will be selecting a winner from seven regions of the United States. One winner will be selected from each of these areas:

  • Northwest/Upper Midwest: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

  • West/Pacific: Hawaii, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

  • Midwest/Great Lakes: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.

  • South/Southwest: Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

  • South Mid-Atlantic/Southeast: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

  • North Mid-Atlantic: Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, and Maryland.

  • New England: Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island.

    This year’s “Best Contractor” winners will be announced and featured in the January 26, 2004 issue, which is huge. This issue is to be distributed at the 2004 Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition in Anaheim, Calif. This should certainly help the winners gain notoriety among their peers.

    At the same time, The News will be asking all seven winners to participate in a panel discussion, which will take place at the AHR Expo. We will be asking our “Best Contractors” to inform this session’s attendees what it is that they do to keep and attract technicians and employees. You will be helping others learn from your success.

    An Award With Benefits

    Jim Cooper, operations manager for Service Champions Heating and Air Conditioning (Yorba Linda, Calif.), is still thankful his firm entered last year. Service Champions was voted No. 1 in the West/Pacific region.

    “I think the most valuable thing we all received from the award is confirmation that what we are doing, as a team, is the right thing,” Cooper testified. “The employees were reminded they have it good and it reconfirmed to them and their families that they are working for the best. Not that anyone needed to be told, but sometimes you take things for granted.”

    Alan Guzik, president and CEO of Energy Management Specialists (EMS) Inc. (Cleveland), noted winning the Midwest/Great Lakes crown produced many benefits, including attracting more qualified help.

    “The top graduate at the top local vocational school turned down a few better offers to come to work for us,” he said, attributing it to the added exposure EMS received.

    A proud Larry Bowman, owner of the North Mid-Atlantic region’s top vote getter, G. F. Bowman Inc. (Cleona, Pa.), may still be smiling.

    “I think it just reinforces the truly good benefits and hard work we put forth to maintain a solid workplace for our team,” said Bowman.

    “It also sends a message, on a national level, that we are committed to improving the lifestyles of our employees.”

    “The pride our employees have in receiving the award has been great,” confirmed John Boyce, co-owner of Airco Service Inc. (Tulsa, Okla.), which captured the South/Southwest region title last year. “They are more outspoken about the positive aspects of our company and it has helped in recruiting new employees. It has also brought some attention to our company from the business community and has opened some new opportunities in our commercial division.”

    Let’s hear from you. Enter today.

    Mark Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax), or markskaer@achrnews.com.

    Publication date: 09/08/2003