Under The Moonlighting Sky And Other HVAC DifficultiesI read most articles in The NEWS, and have a few comments on a few issues that affect the real world of HVAC contracting. Today's topic is GPS, employee acceptance, moonlighting, and HVAC company difficulties caused by the local wholesalers. Now that was a mouthful!
First, the GPS system. I think they are great. I have read the comments about resolving customer service time disagreements, saving fuel, aiding in dispatching and the like. What I have not read in The NEWS is the issues of systems failing due to software upgrades, and more importantly, the ability of employees to bypass, circumvent, or disable such systems. It happens all the time.
Sure, employee acceptance of such technology is difficult. "Hey, he doesn't trust us", is the typical response. Much resentment is generated because Big Brother is watching. And why is Big Brother watching? Because he needs to protect his business and his livelihood.
As employers, we accept the varied personalities, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses of our employees. This isn't a perfect world, and we accept that. Now with the critical shortage of qualified technicians, we tolerate many things we normally wouldn't, among them occasional moonlighting. One would think that with GPS, we could minimize that. To some extent we can.
But then comes the wild card - the local wholesaler. I would think that the HVACR contractor is his best customer. After all, we spend thousands annually. I appreciate all my wholesalers, and thank them with my continued support.
Tell me, why would a wholesaler cut our throats by opening up cash accounts for HVACR company employees, including apprentices? I understand that some wholesalers would never conduct business in such a way, but why would some sell parts, equipment, and supplies to our employees on a regular basis, enticing them to compete with the very hand that feeds them? Does he do so knowing that conducting business without a license is against the law? I mean, after all, if the equipment were for legitimate business, why would he have to sell it on an established employee cash account?
I guess I can't fault the employee for moonlighting. Hey, he has an opportunity to make an extra paycheck on Saturday, maybe doing a "pop and drop." No taxes, no insurance, no business license, no tools (he can use the boss' if necessary), and no worries!
Your response at this point might be, "Ah, he's talking crap. That kind of stuff isn't happening." What I tell you is that it is, and it's a cancer to this industry.
I would invite you to visit the local HVACR supply house each Saturday morning, and see for yourself. I've asked the local salesman why he sells as he does, his response is that he is not the Freon police. Does he understand the difficulty a contractor has competing in this marketplace? Does he understand the negative effect to our industry by allowing this to happen? Does he care? I don't think so; he is consumed by making a sale. All else is secondary, including his best customers.
I would like to express my disappointment. Someone has to send the message to our HVAC partner, the wholesaler.
Michael J. Cote
JEM Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.
Being A Small Business Can Be GoodI resent Mr. Hall's editorial ["Partnering Against Garage Mechanics," Oct. 31, 2005] where he seems to take a perverted delight in knocking one-man shops. I operate a one-man business offering chimney claiming and repair, HVAC repair & installation, and duct cleaning. I am not out trying to cut other contractors' throats. I often can do the job for less cost because I don't have the overhead that the big shops have. To insinuate that because I'm less expensive, my work, or the work of other one-man shops, is inferior is down right insulting. I am a dealer for a major line of HVAC equipment, and my credit is excellent with all my suppliers. Also, I am not one step ahead of the IRS or the sheriff. I have built a reputation over the last six years for doing quality work at a good price.
I suggest that Mr. Hall remember that most companies started out as one-man outfits. Also, I suggest that Mr. Hall get his behind out from behind his desk and try working for a living.
Greg's Chimney Service
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Publication date: 01/30/2006