Remembering Tom McCart

Longtime Contracting Business Editorial Advisory Board member Tom McCart passed away June 10, 2000, after a battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Tom spent much of his career as a consultant and trainer, yet he was also employed by two people in the industry, both of whom are Editorial Advisory Board members.We asked Ron Smith and Matt Michel to share their remembrances of Tom:

Ron Smith: A Great Salesman

I brought Tom McCart into the HVAC industry. He was one of the talented people who made Modern Air Conditioning the nation’s most successful retail air conditioning company of its time (e.g., $15 million in sales, over 20 years ago). People give me credit for Modern’s success and I’ll take some, but most of the credit goes to the many people like Tom and Charlie Greer who were part of the company and through their performance, made the company. While any owner can kill a company all by himself, no owner can make it succeed alone. It takes a team of great people, like Tom McCart.

When I hired Tom, I wasn’t sure about him. After all, he was a retailer. Yet, Tom knew people and he wasn’t burdened with the taboos and limits of conventional industry wisdom. ‘When I told him, “You can do it,” he did.

Most contractors know Tom as a consultant and trainer. In these roles, he helped them succeed. I know him as a salesperson. And boy, could he sell. A great salesperson, he could sell even when he didn’t feel like it. No matter what might be bothering Tom, when he had a sales call to make, he would put on a game face and make the sale.

All good salespeople are competitors. Tom was a competitor on steroids. Sure, money motivated Tom, but more than money, he wanted to be number one.

We measured our close rate based on sales to leads. When Tom consistently turned in the highest closing rate among all salespeople, I investigated. We spread our leads evenly among the salespeople. Tom wasn’t getting more or better leads. As a great salesperson will, he took responsibility for generating his own leads. He worked his customers for referrals. He marketed himself in our community like a realtor.

Tom and I have remained close for 20 years. He was a great salesperson working for me and he became a great consultant and trainer in the following years. He will be missed.

Matt Michel: Someone Who Cared

Nominally, Tom worked for me. In reality, Tom worked for the contractors we served. When a contractor was struggling, Tom would fly in to help. Tom’s critiques could be harsh, but no one ever objected because each contractor knew that Tom was right and sensed that he sincerely cared. When he offered help, he offered a bit of himself.

Tom was relentless in the pursuit of change. He would prod continually using a dry sense of barbed humor, picking at a destructive behavior like an old sore until he saw action.

Tom was also impatient. He was on a mission. ime was of the essence. When he was most exasperated, Tom would demonstrate. Once, he wrote over $30,000 worth of sales from a day and a half of knocking on doors. This was for a two-truck operator whose best month ever was $35,000.

I learned a lot from Tom. I learned from his training. I learned from observation. I learned from many long discussions, a few heated debates, and the occasional knock down, drag out argument. Contractors weren’t the only people subject to prodding. I received my share. I never complained (well, not too much) because I know Tom was right and really cared.

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