Every few months, I break bread with Paul Wadsworth. His company, P. K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling Inc. has been in business since 1936 and is quite well-known around the Cleveland market as being a company of fine quality and integrity. However, Mr. Wadsworth does have a sneaky streak about him.

I called a few weeks ago to ask if he knew anyone who could install a humidification system in my home. He giggled, asked me a few questions about my home, and said that he had just the right person to send over for the job. Just one catch - we agreed not to tell Scott LaForce that I had any clue about the HVAC business. Wadsworth didn't have any expectation of me catching Scott doing anything wrong. On the contrary, he suggested that I would be quite impressed with his professionalism.


During one of the breakfast meetings at our regular Bob Evans Restaurant, I had shared with Wadsworth a story about a less than thorough HVAC service call. A fellow came to my house to perform a furnace check that turned out to be, shall we say, less than satisfying. Oh, he did what he said he would do, but he never noticed that I needed a humidifier, and never asked about a service agreement for my home. I was disappointed.

Paul Wadsworth remembered that conversation.

The Rest Of The Story

I spied him from the upstairs office window. The numbers on my mailbox were rubbed off, so he wasn't sure which house was mine. I walked outside and flagged him down as he slowly drove by the second time. He was 10 minutes early.

"Hello, Mr. Murphy. My name is Scott LaForce. Pardon me while I put on my shoe covers before I come in your home." As we headed for the basement, LaForce asked if the family was generally comfortable in our house. "Have you noticed any rooms that don't cool down or warm up enough?" he inquired.

We talked for about 20 minutes as he explained the difference between a bypass and power humidifier. First, he wanted to know how we used our thermostat control and how often we ran the blower. He then asked questions about total air flow in the house and said he would be taking static pressure readings to make sure the moist air would be able to get where it was intended to go. He wanted to understand what was important to my family, to make sure he was offering the correct components.

He showed me where the humidifier would be mounted, and where an outdoor sensor would be mounted if I had an interest in that level of control. Of course, I asked about the outdoor sensor and how it worked. He carefully explained how the outdoor temperature and indoor humidity setting would work in tandem to provide the best comfort with the least involvement on my part.

I wanted the power humidifier and the outdoor sensor.

I wandered back to the basement a few times during the day, watching and learning, and asking a few more questions. LaForce nonchalantly mentioned service agreement customers several times, but never asked if I wanted a service agreement. Maybe he was going to do so at the end of the service call. But he didn't have to, I took the bait. "Tell me about your service agreements." He explained the three choices in great detail. On one of his trips back inside from his truck, LaForce handed me a brochure. "You asked for something to read about our service agreements, so I brought this inside for you," he said.

As the job was complete and we signed the paperwork, he had included written proposals for a couple of things he thought would be beneficial for our house: a complete air diagnostic check and a service agreement.

I'm now a proud Club Member with P. K. Wadsworth. I finally have the service agreement that I should have bought years ago - but nobody ever offered it to me before. Yes. I'm a sucker for a good HVAC technician who knows his trade.

My hat is off to Scott LaForce.

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

Publication date: 10/10/2005