I know that Mark Skaer is a good guy; we've cajoled each other for years at various industry events. But why did he have to take the stapler from his old office when he moved to St. Louis withThe News? The same thing happened to me the last time I started with a new employer. I guess there must be a stapler shortage; or maybe some people need them for wedding presents. You know - something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Those of you who may know this old face know that it's in a new place this week. I served six years as editor of Contracting Business magazine. Now, as my good friend, Ed Dooley, who has recently retired from the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI), noted in a congratulatory e-mail, "Sometimes getting repotted is good for growth." He's right.

Take A Chance On Change

Thinking of the many contractors I've met during my years in the HVAC industry, I admire most those who have developed the ability to work on their businesses, rather than in them.

Oh, most of you still like to get your hands dirty every now and again, just to prove you can still hang. However, working on your business must be a bit like getting repotted. Sometimes you don't know how much more potential you or your company may have until you've spread the roots a little further apart and added more nutrients to the soil.

You can think of working on the business as broadening your scope in such a way that you can see new aspects of the day-to-day operation.

The blinders come off as you begin to manage risk in your business. Risks like the delegation of a critically important task to a new employee who has earned the respect of her co-workers. Risks like letting go of something that's always been within your comfort zone and you'd prefer to do it yourself because it's still fun. Risks like encouraging a service technician to make warranty decisions on his own when doing what's right for the customer.

The long-term gains of delegation aren't guaranteed - that's why it's called a risk. That's why it must be effectively managed.

However, the potential growth and success that it can bring to you in both your business and personal endeavors will often far outweigh that risk. As you perhaps ponder the possibilities of working on your business rather than in it, you can rely on an old friend to share with you other contractors' success stories.

The News has been a champion of this industry since 1926. Generations of family businesses have looked to it for information and guidance. The News' editorial team is made up of 10 full-time industry veterans who provide in-depth coverage of the topics that contractors and distributors want to read about.

This talented and knowledgeable staff is dedicated to providing high-quality, up-to-date information of critical value to the industry. Their combined years of experience are unequalled in HVACR publishing. My 18 years of manufacturing and editorial experience have now tipped the scales a bit further. It's an honor to have been asked to join this team of professionals as the editor-in-chief.

I've had the pleasure of working directly with contractors, distributors, and manufacturers' reps while working for two well-known HVAC manufacturing companies. While part of this industry, I've associated with some of the best people you could ever hope to meet. It's always been fun and rewarding.

However, I've never had as much fun as when I took a chance on growing. Good fortune sometimes smiles on those who are willing to get repotted every once in a while. I look forward to serving you in my new role, here at The News.

Now, Mr. Skaer. About that stapler ...

Mike Murphy is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), or mikemurphy@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 12/13/2004