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    For you to move beyond your current circumstances requires a change in your vision and hope.

    A Past Due Upgrade for Your Career or Company

    Sept. 2, 2021
    The astounding number of changes in the HVAC industry represent opportunities that are there for the taking.

    A good friend of mine began to transform auto dealerships nearly 60 years ago. His accomplishments foreshadow changes coming to the HVAC industry and perhaps your career. Let’s take a look at the auto industry explosion he ignited and how your career and company may be sitting on a similar powder keg today. 

    In the early 1960s, Paul Burnett was a young vice president for General Motors. His assignment was to build a revolutionary type of car dealership. Back then, a typical car lot was managed by the owner and a secretary. They worked out of a small office located near the back of a half-acre car lot with a string of 100-Watt light bulbs out front. The lot held about 20 cars and maybe a tractor or two. 

    Paul would arrive in town, unannounced. He’d seat himself in a prominent location in the center of the best local diner and enjoy
    a long breakfast. Paul would invite everyone who would speak with him to talk about the best car lot owner in town. That afternoon he’d stroll onto the top three car lots and begin to negotiate a car purchase from the owner. That night, back at the motel, he would choose which owner he would offer the opportunity of a lifetime. 

    The following day, Paul would be waiting at the car lot for the owner when he arrived and invited him to go for a drive. Paul would stop in front of a 10-acre field on the outskirts of town, get out of the car, point to the field, and help the owner imagine a mega auto dealership that was an unconceived idea at the time. This mega-lot would display five hundred cars. It would employ professionally trained salespeople, have in-house financing, a complete service department, a body shop, an unimaginable marketing budget, and potential profits 20 times greater than the owner ever imagined. 

    All this could belong to the car-lot owner through a partnership with Paul’s company, General Motors. Some car lot owners embraced the opportunity, and some did not — those who did succeeded wildly. The success of Paul’s vision is the mega dealership reality of today. 

    What Does Paul Have to do with My Company and Career? 

    The change was slow in the 1960s. Not so today. The last five years have given birth to more changes than we’ve seen in the last 50 years. 

    Change is so rapid in our industry that few can recognize and respond to the volume of opportunities and obstacles moving around them. Unfortunately, many choose to disregard these shifts, insisting and wishing things would remain unchanged. 

    Later, when careers and companies suffer, they blame others and cannot accept responsibility for their non-action. Compare their plight to the car-lot owners who chose not to change and remain on their half-acre lots.  

    Change is so rapid in our industry that few can recognize and respond to the volume of opportunities and obstacles moving around them. Unfortunately, many choose to disregard these shifts, insisting and wishing things would remain unchanged. 

    Other industry professionals recognize that change happens, whether they ask for it or not. When industry transformation presses on some, they respond to it. They feel the discomfort of change and make the conscious choice to embrace it, to pursue opportunities hidden behind the discomfort. 

    As I wrestle with words to write this article for you, I began to write a list of dozens of changes I’m seeing in our industry right now. Then, I realized the most crucial change to you is the one before you right now. This is the change you will embrace or ignore today. You get to figure out how to apply Paul Burnett’s principles to your opportunity. Remember, your response to change is what you have control over. 

    Assess Your Current Place in the Industry 

    You may hold tight to your current conditions and feel locked in place with little control. If you find yourself stuck, assess your current role and position in the industry. As you soak in your self-evaluation, you may discover an upgrade for your career, or your company is long past due. 

    Your response to change is what you have control over. 

    Perhaps your income is far below what you’re worth. Maybe your opportunities for advancement seem slim. Do you feel the recognition of your unique knowledge and skills is undervalued or unappreciated?

    You may work for a company and see no opportunity for advancement. Wages may be low; encouragement and training non-existent. Is it time to seek a new job with a more progressive company willing to help you build a distinguished career? 

    Maybe you started your own company several years ago but haven’t built the life you hoped for. Is it time to investigate selling your customer base and joining a larger company that can benefit from what you built and advance you far beyond where you are today? 

    Then Make a Change of Your Own 

    Although Paul presented an opportunity for change and advancement, there is no doubt most of the work remained squarely on each car-lot owners’ shoulders. It takes work to make changes. 

    The most valuable commodity Paul brought was a new vision and a strong hope for greater opportunity… and boy did he deliver on his promises! For you to move beyond your current circumstances requires a change in your vision and hope. If not, you will remain in the same circumstances you find yourself in today. 

    The work to sustain focused thought and action to change your current circumstances is the most challenging in the world. It is uncomfortable and demands persistence, but it’s worth it.

    For you to move beyond your current circumstances requires a change in your vision and hope. If not, you will remain in the same circumstances you find yourself in today. 

    Our industry is responding to much negativity pressing on it today. That same pressure can move you to action and connect you with a new opportunity. Will you recognize when your “Paul” appears? The path to Paul may be embedded in discussion with a peer, an encounter with one of your customers, a phone call you take, or something you read. If you seek it, a Paul will show up. 

    Conditions are ripe for you or your company to move beyond a figurative small car lot with a string of light bulbs out front. How great is your desire for a more contributing and rewarding career? Paul Burnett raised the bar for auto dealerships and revolutionized the industry. What revolutionary change are you willing to embrace to improve your career or company?

    Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. You can contact Doc at ncilink.com/ContactMe or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles, downloads, and current training opportunities.