The weather outside has become frightful, and world news is less than delightful. But the holiday season is here, so let us cheer, let us cheer, let us cheer. I’m excited about the prospect of spending the holidays with the entire family.
It’s an interesting time in that the new year is quickly approaching and we all have a bit of apprehension and excitement as we close the books on 2013 and get ready for whatever awaits us in 2014.
This time last year the buzz was all about the fear that world was about to end. Remember that? December 21, 2012 was going to be the last day before the end. The Mayans were wrong — yay! Of course, other fires are burning brightly, especially around issues like energy efficiency, health care, the economy — the same cast of characters that greet us at the turn of every new year.
Efficiency? That’s a question for the ages, isn’t it? It seems the government’s focus is on ever-increasing rules and regulations around energy efficiency. But the good news is that the mechanical systems industry is always ready, willing, and able to rise to the occasion and develop products that not only meet those rules and regulations, but often exceed them. As an industry we should be proud of these accomplishments. Still, we must continue to stay vigilant of our governmental legislators and through our trade associations, keep them on the right path.
Speaking of which, in 2013 climate change struck the HVACR industry again, only this time it really didn’t have anything to do with environmental climate. It’s more of a climate change in Washington with a divided government unable to come to a decision on funding itself, let alone address pending refrigerant, regional efficiency, and other rules that impact our daily lives.
Don’t think that this type of “in-fighting” is only in the government arena. We saw and are still seeing major issues in the contracting community as well. One of these, for union contractors, is the truth about unfunded liabilities. I’m talking about retirement dollars that aren’t there for contractors who’ve been paying into pension funds their entire careers. For those of you in the union mechanical systems trades, I’d give a penny for your thoughts on this issue.
Then there is Obamacare, which went into effect this year. I’m talking about the Affordable Health Care Act and it’s impact on the HVAC industry. My question is this: Is health care confusion the rule? Just think about the fiasco we all watched as the online systems for signing up Americans sputtered and crashed causing alarm and confusion throughout America in general and the HVAC industry in particular.
At Comfortech 2013, which is 18 years strong, we had two speakers on Obamacare and the rooms were packed. Some contractors were put off by what they learned. One even voiced his opinion about not wanting his children to get involved in the HVAC industry. Luckily, he was talked out of this opinion by others who still feel this industry is an excellent career for our children.
One of the reasons is the evolution of the relationship between home performance and the HVAC contractor. Federal and state governments are now recognizing the importance of home and building performance — the merger of HVAC, comfort, and technology. That just makes good sense and good business. Combined with technologies such as solar, wireless controls, variable refrigerant flow, and geothermal, well there’s gold in them hills!
These and other events certainly added fourth quarter fury to the world of HVACR, yet on the whole, from a business perspective, 2013 remained a good year. So let holiday voices sing, the bells ring, for it’s time to bring in the New Year.
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From Contracting Business.com magazine to you, our readers, best wishes for a safe, healthy, and productive 2014.