"The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don't have."
- Woody Allen

This is the best time of year. Thanksgiving is celebrated this week. There is plenty to be thankful for, too.

Yes, there is a lot of unrest in the world today. There is blood being shed in Iraq and the Middle East. Our economy is not necessarily healthy. Contractors are facing competition from big box retailers and utilities.

It's not easy. No one said it would be. But stop and think of why you wanted to run your own HVACR firm in the first place.

The majority of you wanted to be your own boss, make your own money, and supply comfort for clients your way. Now, those factors might not be in the correct order, but I have a feeling that some or all of the reasons listed above pushed you into this industry.

Hopefully, you have not regretted it. This industry, after all, has a lot to offer.

"Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold."
- Maurice Setter

Bob Keingstein, who heads BOSS Facility Services Inc. in Smithtown, N.Y., appreciates being in this industry.

"Having been a contractor and now working with hundreds of contractors in all areas of expertise such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, I don't know of any career that is as satisfying as helping customers through emergency situations. The smile on the customer's face says it all. It is what we do on a daily basis, 24/7."

Thankfully, it did not take long to find other contractors who feel the same way.

"Being a part of a 58-year-old, third-generation family business, obviously I owe everything I have to this industry," said Ray Isaac, vice president and general manager of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning in Rochester, N.Y. "The HVAC profession has raised me, put me through college, and now provides for the livelihood and prosperity of me and 150 other employees, families, and friends at Isaac."

"When life's problems seem overwhelming, look around and see what other people are coping with. You may consider yourself fortunate."
- Ann Landers

Are you thankful for being a contractor? When Larry Taylor was asked to respond to the question in 25 words or less, the head of Air Rite Air Conditioning of Fort Worth, Texas, was a little miffed.

"This is unfair to hold me to 25 words or less. I cannot say ‘Good morning' with that few words," he quipped. Then he added, "We are so blessed to have a great family, great friends, great travel opportunities, great folks to work with each day, great associations in this industry, and great customers. How could a contractor not be thankful?"

Russ Donnici of Mechanical Air Service Inc. in San Jose, Calif., was just as appreciative.

"I am thankful for being a contractor for the past 26 years because it has provided financial security and opportunities to my family beyond my expectations and it has provided me the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of my employees and customers on a daily basis," he said. "I hope that doesn't sound too preachy, but I thank God every day for the blessings I have been given."

"Earth's crammed with heaven."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Steve Saunders, president and CEO of Tempo Mechanical Services of Irving, Texas, is glad to be a contractor because "my days are so different."

"I get to see every form of human interaction," he said. "Love, heroic effort, friendship, greed, anger, frustration, laughter, joy. Life and people are a constant amazement to me, and as a contractor I get to experience it all - daily, it sometimes seems."

OK, being a contractor is hard, he admitted. But, "If it was easy, then it would not challenge and push me. If I was not challenged and pushed, I would never have a chance to reach my potential as a person, a leader, or a family man."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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

Publication date: 11/24/2003