I recently read John R. Hall's opinion regarding minors attending the AHR Expo. I agree with him 100 percent about letting our sons and daughters attend the expo.

Why? Because the next generation of HVAC techs are right under our feet - quite literally. Being able to take my son or daughter to an event like the expo would be an experience they would not forget. I have always tried to share what I do for a living with my children. Being a father of four - one son and three daughters - I believe I have some experience in this matter.

Since my son, Matthew, was small, he showed a great deal of common sense and hands-on ability. I tried as much as possible to expose him to the HVAC, mechanical, and electrical fields. I have been in the industry for 26 years and been in the service side for most of that time. There have been times that I was called out to repair a chiller in a large plant late at night, and I took Matthew with me. He was amazed at the big equipment and noise around us while I was troubleshooting a large centrifugal machine. He also figured out that Dad did not work on trains but Trane equipment.

After that experience he wanted to go with me all the time. I was on call one Father's Day weekend and received a call that a large hotel had been struck by lightning and several large motors failed. I had to go. As it turned out, I worked from Friday until almost midnight on Sunday. Matthew told me, "Dad, I want to go with you so I can spend some time with you on Father's Day." It brought tears to my eyes. Matthew went with me and helped me change out a large motor for a condenser water pump and get the chillers back online. He was about 12 years old, and he worked as hard as any man could have helping me.


Matthew started his own business repairing small engines and lawn equipment while he was in high school. We homeschool our children so he had flexibility for building his business from a very small operation to a full-blown service and repair shop.

He did this on his own with very little help from me. He bought his own tools, inventory, and hired his own CPA and tax man to do his books. He purchased his first truck and paid $12,000 cash for it. He was quite an entrepreneur and learned quickly. He had his business until he joined the military. Now he is a mechanic serving our country. He has spent 13 months in Afghanistan and is preparing to go to Iraq in July.

I believe that the times we had together influenced him in very positive ways, and I thank God for the opportunities. I believe as fathers we should be proud of what we do and willing to share it. When I was 13 years old, I was working on small engines and learning about mechanical and electrical equipment, cars, and about anything that burned gasoline, leaked oil and Freon, and used electricity. I would not trade it for anything.

I believe if we want to see the HVAC industry continue to prosper and improve as an industry then we have to involve our children. As you talk with people in the service and installation business, the one thing that is common as far as what they want is this: good, solid people, smart, and willing to work.

I believe many will come from families that are currently in the business or working in it. If there was one thing that I wish I could have experienced as a child, it would have been to work with my dad. I did not have that opportunity, but I tried to experience it with my children.

Jeff Mashburn, Mechanical Systems Specialist, TAC/Tour Andover Controls, Jeff.Mashburn@tac.com

Publication date: 03/20/2006