I was contacted by a sharp young college student requesting an interview concerning the American Dream and what it meant to the HVAC industry. The discussion, and his paper that followed produced some ideas that can serve us all well. What is the American Dream and what does it look like to our industry in 2011?
Is the Dream Still Alive?
Sure it is. It’s easy to look back at more pleasant economic times and generations past and imagine that realizing the American Dream might have been more achievable “back then.” I believe that just isn’t true. Never before in the history of the world has a people and a country been blessed with more opportunity and freer economic prospects than we have right now.
Sure there are more obstacles and the appearance of a more difficult path to follow. But considering the tools we have to work with today, so much more can be accomplished in much less time, that the most difficult part is to narrow the opportunities down to one that we can focus on.
Is Fortune the Dream?
One benefit of today’s world is the freedom we have to decide what our dreams will be. The recent years’ economic lessons have taught us that the dream of boundless impenetrable wealth brings all the happiness we can desire has been revealed as a false dream. Financial fortune has always been only one dimension of the American Dream. Wealth alone has proven over and over again to fail a high percentage of those who have sacrificed family, health and peace to achieve it.
In light of economic changes over the past several years, many of today’s young families have learned to build realistic new dreams. This new dream is more sensible and achievable. It’s based on ideals of limiting debt for all but large major purchases. Many in the rising generation that will soon be running this country have learned from the mistakes of over indulgence of our nation. Hopefully our nation will soon catch on to the same idea.
Even a poor family of today has unimaginable wealth and possessions compared to our families not long ago. I have sons and daughters married only a few years that own homes filled with all the basic possessions and luxuries that took many people of my generation decades to obtain. Their current incomes are similar to installers or service technicians today, and each gained their wealth on their own. Daddy didn’t write the checks.
Somehow many American’s manage to look past the basics of a living in a home and having sufficient means to grow a family as the American Dream. It was just over 75 years ago when Franklin Roosevelt promised “a chicken in every pot” as evidence of prosperous times ahead. What would we think if Mr. Obama made such a statement today?
The Value of Skilled Craftsmen
Our industry has passed through a long season where the value of skilled labor has been diminished. But times are changing. The day is coming that those willing to develop the skills and ability to deliver real energy efficiency and actual comfort will be in high demand. Those that manage and sell HVAC services will be able to demand the money deserved by such a trade.
Setting our sites on offering services and products that fulfill basic needs of true comfort and developing the ability to deliver measureable energy savings in homes and buildings will build bright futures in a new profession within our industry. These new professionals that can actually do what others only talk about in the energy world are in high demand and will soon exceed the incomes of the mid-level college graduates.
A New American Dream
While many still imagine the hype of stardom and fame as their dream. Consider taking a close look at our industry and at your chosen professions as a path having the potential to provide a realistic American dream that is obtainable in your future. New opportunity is on your horizon.
We are on track to emerge as a new champion in the years ahead that can solve the energy woes of each home and business owner. We control the efficiency of the biggest energy hog in the country and one that is not going away...a building’s comfort systems. The real solutions will not come from the minimum standards of government or from products created by manufacturers. It will be delivered solutions to excessive energy consumption provided by contractors, installers and technicians, one building at a time.
America’s demand for comfort combined with rising energy costs is beating a path to our doors. Opportunity to reach our American Dream is coming our way if we step up and become the professionals that can deliver the solutions everyone is looking for.
Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute a training company with technical and business level membership organizations. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician interested in learning more about building your ability to meet your customer’s comfort and efficiency needs, contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles and downloads.