When I came toThe NEWSalmost eight years ago, I had little clue about the HVAC industry. I could barely recite what HVAC meant (some kind of vacuum I think). The industry did not make a lot of headlines except when some less-than-respectable alleged HVAC tech went haywire and made the local news. The industry didn't seem flashy or interesting.

But I came on board just as contractor consolidation was heating up and that made for a lot of interesting stories. I met contractors who sold their businesses and returned to work in them for Wall Street corporations. I also met independent contractors who were dead-set against consolidation and vowed to never give up their roles as entrepreneurs in their communities (although some later changed their minds as the dollars got higher).

This was a time of big news and I really enjoyed writing about a quickly changing industry. But when consolidation went south, so too did a lot of the interesting news.

Not so in 2005.

Verrrry Interesting

To quote an old line from Arte Johnson in the '60s comedy show "Laugh In," 2005 has been "verrry interesting." The big news this year has been, in my opinion, the biggest news in the HVAC industry since consolidation. The impending move to the 13 SEER standard has everyone talking, and with good reason.

This is a subject that touches every facet of the industry, from the manufacturer to the distributor to the contractor to the educator. Just look at the coverage The NEWS has given the subject all year. Some may say it is overkill, but in reality there is a constant need to remind industry members about all of the impacts of changing over to 13 SEER equipment. Just ask our contractor consultants, who give their opinions on pages 17-18 of this issue.

What I have found so engrossing about 13 SEER is all of the different ramifications. Unless a person understands how to sell, stock, transport, and most importantly in-stall 13 SEER equipment, there could be problems in the fit and function of the equipment, leading to delays in shipping, loss of efficiencies, and unhappy customers, to name a few problems.

Not only is 13 SEER a foreign term to many customers, there are still people in the trade who don't understand it or the impact it will have on their business. Luckily, there are a lot of good sources of information available from manufacturers and distributors, including technical and sales training. And of course, there are the constant updates in our newsmagazine designed to keep our readers informed of the latest 13 SEER news.

It's There For The Asking

Information about 13 SEER is available - it is incumbent on people to educate themselves, their co-workers, and the general public. This is big news, folks. We need to keep getting the message out. If there was ever a time for the HVAC industry to put on a good face and show the world its knowledge and importance, the time is now.

If a customer asks why he or she should pay more for a 13 SEER system, can you give them an answer that explains and satisfies? Do your installers know how to correctly match the new coil with the indoor unit in order to make the configured system a true 13 SEER system? Do you know that you can still sell 10 or 12 SEER equipment as long as it is still available? Can you fit that 5-ton condensing unit in the back of a service van now that it is 30 percent larger than the old one? Have you checked with your supplier to see if 13 SEER equipment will be available when demand heats up next spring?

Yes, the news is big. But it is not like the HVAC trade hasn't been preparing itself for this for years. How many contractors have already been selling high-efficiency equipment? If you have, share the knowledge.

John R. Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-464-1970, 248-786-1390 (fax), or johnhall@achrnews.com.

Publication date: 12/26/2005