Modern Air Conditioning in Fort Myers, Fla., hired me as an experiment in March of 1985. Then-owner Ron Smith wanted to see if, within a one-week time span, his staff could make a residential replacement salesperson out of someone possessing no HVAC experience. What's more, this person would work 100 percent straight commission and would receive no training salary, no draw, no vehicle, and no car allowance.

I am proud to say the fourth day on the job I closed my first lead out the gate. I enjoyed about five blissful months as the new wunderkind.

Then something horrible happened. They hired a new guy under the identical set of circumstances. He, however, closed his first 15 leads and instantly doubled my closing ratio. Within months, the walls around his desk grew crowded with plaques declaring him "Staff Engineer of the Month" and others stating he'd had yet another "$100,000 Month." In his first full calendar year in the business, he set a new industrywide sales record for residential replacement equipment sales - $1 million.

That "new guy" was Tom McCart.

For those unfamiliar with Tom McCart, please see the article "A Testament To A Million Dollar Salesman" in this issue to find out about this incredible man, his career in the HVACR industry, and the current challenges he faces. He is very much my hero.

My Lucky Day

After consistently outselling me and everyone else in the industry, one day, out of the blue, McCart invited me to run a few calls with him to observe him in action.

That alone should tell you something about this man.

In just the first few moments of that first call, I could see why he was outselling me. He had an entirely different approach. In a nutshell, while I was trying to make sales, McCart was satisfying people's needs.

I began tagging along whenever possible, learning volumes on presentation skills with every single call. We became nearly inseparable. In his case, I believe it was for friendship. Shamefully, my motivation was to keep him squarely in my sights at all times.

Plainly put, I wanted to learn as much as I could, then use the knowledge I acquired from him to beat him silly the way he'd been beating me.

At the same time, he took it upon himself to mentor three other salespeople at Modern and volunteer at the Dale Carnegie sales course three nights per week.

At the time, I didn't realize that someone destined to become a living legend was mentoring me. In my ignorance, I had not fully realized or appreciated the vast wealth of knowledge he'd given me, asking nothing in return. Despite all the camaraderie and all he had done for me, I was jealous.

Can you believe that?

After I attained some recognition for my own sales figures, I hit the seminar circuit around 1990. People were constantly comparing us and asking me about McCart. To my own disgrace, I had the poor judgment to badmouth and discredit him in public on something of a regular basis.

When McCart left consulting to accept a position at Dwyer Trade Services, he handed me his client list, notes, and files, offering to make whatever introductions I needed to get me more business. He also came by my home office and helped me organize my own consulting practice by teaching me how to operate a computer, start my own customer database, surf the Internet, and maintain my own Web site.

All of this came with no strings attached. There were never any strings attached with Tom McCart.

I wondered how it was possible for this man not to have heard about all the things I'd said about him. I wondered what he hoped to gain by helping me. The possibility occurred to me that I'd been blinded by my own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy and that maybe, just maybe, I'd been wrong about Tom McCart.

Yes, very wrong.

Still Thinking Of Others

Today, when I called to clarify a few details for the feature story on him and to schedule a visit, his parting words to me were, "Make sure you bring your family photo album with you. I want to see pictures of your family and what you were like as a kid."

You see, he's still more interested in me and what I am about than in glorifying himself. That's the raw truth about Tom McCart.

Guest columnist Charlie Greer is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD" and can be reached at 800-963-4822 or

Publication date: 05/31/2004