In September of 1986 I had the pleasure of teaching my first dealer sales training class while in the employ of Lennox Industries. That two-day program is one I'll always remember. There were only nine students in that Sacramento, Calif., class - obviously I was not a huge drawing card as a speaker at the time.

At the close of the class, one of the students asked for my autograph on a copy of Og Mandino's The World's Greatest Salesman, which I had given to all of the participants. Even though I'm now autographing a regular column, I have to admit that the gentleman's book isn't worth any more than it was on the day I signed it for him. However, it certainly was a kind gesture on his part.

Another student who has stayed in my memory for years made the trip down the mountain from Turlock, Calif., a small town near Lake Tahoe. Rob Falke looked a bit cherubic with his curly hair, rosy cheeks, and broad smiling face. He seemed to be way ahead of me regarding his knowledge of the concepts I was teaching.

A few years later, we met each other again at an industry conference. His eyes lit up as he told me about his future ambitions. I didn't know what to think of his aspirations at the time, but I was sure he was convinced that HVAC contracting held an even more important role in people's lives than most people knew. A few years later I was hearing his name everywhere I went. Now, you'll see him on the pages of this magazine.

Falke's experiences have taken him into new endeavors in HVAC. He is now a teacher, and a very good one. He is the president of National Comfort Institute, Sheffield Lake, Ohio, a training and membership organization. Thousands of contractors have sat in his classes on air distribution and diagnostics. Now, thousands are finding out how performance-based contracting is taking a front seat in an industry that has too often taken a back seat.

Passion For The Industry

Falke's passion is to help contractors actually deliver the comfort they promise to their customers. Why? Very simply, Rob is one of the most genuine people you could ever wish to meet. He won't provide a service that isn't needed. He won't do the wrong thing - the right thing is the only acceptable solution. Although he and NCI have been approached by numerous governmental agencies, they chose to remain independent because they didn't agree with the premise of the programs.

Falke embodies integrity in the HVAC industry. In my humble opinion, he ranks up there with some of the very best this industry has seen - people like Thomas "Doc" Rusk and Aaron York.

Perhaps what Falke is most noted for is his understanding of the importance of proper airflow distribution for delivering comfort in any building.

He has often been called the "Air Doctor" by his friends. We think it spawns a fitting title for his News column: "The Doctor Is In."

You will see Falke's regular column about every two weeks or so in The News. He will be covering topics ranging in diversity from "How to Perform an Airflow Traverse" to "Asking For a Referral."

This week, he provides an interesting backdrop as to what drives him to be such a caring and concerned member of the HVAC industry. Please check out his story, "Honoring A Customer Service Legend," in this issue.

Mr. Falke, it's a pleasure to see your smiling face on the pages of this magazine.

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

Publication date: 04/11/2005