If you have not enteredThe News'"Best Contractor To Work For" contest ... well, why haven't you? The entry deadline is Dec. 1, which is just two weeks away.

If you are a business owner, do you strive to make your firm one of the best places to work in this industry? Do you provide a secure, friendly work environment for employees, offering them continuing education and opportunities for career advancement?

If you are an employee, are you proud of the steps your company takes to avoid tech burnout? Does management do its best to guarantee a steady workload? Do you have a voice in key decisions?

We want to know.

Nice Testimonies

Since we started this contest nearly five years ago, we've featured some excellent contractors. You don't forget the likes of Hugh Joyce Jr., president of James River Heating and Air Conditioning (Richmond, Va.); or Bobby Ring Jr. of Meyer & Depew (Kenilworth, N.J.); or Steve Saunders of Tempo Mechanical Services (Irving, Texas). These owners were among the eight honored the initial year of this contest. Each year, the competition gets tougher, but it is always comforting to read the emotional testimonies. Here are just a few excerpts from this year's pile of entries:

  • "The No. 1 priority is the employees. The owner has a personal relationship with every employee. The employee-boss relationship goes beyond work. The owner holds weekly meetings for employees to give their opinions, to discuss the work and jobs going on in the weeks to come, and to share ‘war stories.' ... Our boss treats us with respect. He has helped employees with personal obstacles and is a friend rather than just someone to work for."

  • "We spend a great deal of time training our technicians on customer relations, sales, and goal-setting and achievement. We start each day with a daily meeting that includes ‘the word of the week.' This is an inspirational word that we discuss as a team, exploring how the word will help us improve our service or achieve our goals. Monthly contests for technician performance keeps each tech focused on something that they are good at in order to win a prize."

  • "We base all pay increases and bonuses off of the technician's efficiency, which we track weekly. They have certain goals to maintain and if they are above the minimum, they are rewarded with a bonus."

  • "We do not hire techs for the busy season. So, therefore, there is some business that we can't get to. It's just not worth burning out a tech on a new customer when they have already had a long day. Work at increasing your maintenance base and evening out your year."

    If any of this sounds familiar, or if you believe your boss or firm is better, prove it. We really do want to honor the best.

    Featured At AHR Expo

    Please note that the seven regional winners will be featured in the Jan. 26, 2004 issue of The News. Not only will this issue be handed out at the 2004 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) in Anaheim, Calif., but the winners will get the opportunity to tell their respective success stories at an expo educational session, sponsored by The News.

    When asked by the show management if The News could put on a seminar that would be important for attendees, it was a no-brainer. We believe the Best Contractor winners have a lot to say about motivating and keeping employees, providing a healthy work environment, and much, much more.

    Because contractors always like to hear what other contractors do to make their businesses successful, this planned session looks to be a learning experience for all who attend. We highly encourage participants, as the floor will be open to ask specific questions of the winners.

    Winners will get the notoriety they deserve. You do have to enter, though, to be considered. Go to our Web site, www.achrnews.com, and complete the entry form 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: 11/17/2003