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You Bring HVAC Systems to Life!

Contractors who install, and service HVAC systems are the key, and providing them with training and support is paramount to everyone’s success.

Oftentimes the simplest statements can be the most profound. At NCI’s Summit in Orlando this April, Goodman Manufacturing was named NCI’s Partner of the Year for its support of both the conference and its year-round support of advanced performance training throughout North America.

When Goodman-Amana Business Unit President, Satoru Akama, accepted the award he made a simple, yet profound statement. Akama asserted that “When a unit leaves our factory, it’s just pieces of aluminum, copper, and plastic put together. It’s just a part of a system, nothing else. It gets life and becomes a product only when professional contractors like you install it properly. You give it a long life by maintaining it for customers.”

What a simple, yet profound insight! As I looked out at the audience, I could see those who understood his message, sitting there with their mouths agape. In the 32 years I’ve been involved in the HVAC industry, it was the first time I heard a top executive of a manufacturer put it that way.

My hope is leaders of all manufacturers begin to better understand and support the role of the contractor in bringing their products to life. Not with rhetoric, but with action.

At face value, this may have sounded like a random compliment meant to flatter those in the room, but from Akama’s sincere and humble tone, there was unmistakably much more to it. 

In a one-on-one conversation with him earlier that day, he expressed similar sentiments, noting the contractors who install, and service HVAC systems are the key, and providing them with training and support is paramount to everyone’s success.

My hope is leaders of all manufacturers begin to better understand and support the role of the contractor in bringing their products to life. Not with rhetoric, but with action.

Our Challenges
Our industry faces many challenges over the next decade. These hurdles begin with what is expected to be the largest shortage of technical personnel our industry has ever seen.

According to numerous studies using both empirical and anecdotal data, we face an immense challenge in not just attracting future technicians and installers, but also training them to deal with the most complex products our industry has ever produced.

It’s estimated we will soon have a 30% shortage of technicians in the HVAC industry – in other words, unless something drastic happens to change this course, one in three will be gone within the next few years!

Currently, less than 10% of HVAC companies see ongoing training as necessary to the success of their businesses. Unfortunately, the other 90% do little more than swap out equipment or change parts until equipment starts running again. Since that 90% truly feel that’s all it takes to stay in business, there is little incentive for them to change.

While current training and certifications are helpful, our industry doesn’t really have a very good mechanism for holding contractors accountable for their work, and unfortunately, the public is just unaware of this inconvenient fact.

Now I’m not advocating that government or some other body steps in, like they do in many other countries, overreaching and overregulating industries to death. But if we don’t start doing a better job of self-policing, we are just inviting such intervention.

How Do We Overcome This?
We can all complain about one part of the channel or another not helping to fix this immense problem, or we can all pull together as an industry and work on it together. This needs to be more than just another Kumbaya moment.

Real work needs to be done to pull together all available resources to attract new blood to our industry. In addition, we must focus on training and retraining a significant part of our workforce so they can step up to the challenges of working on today’s HVAC systems.

It begins by recognizing this is a crisis the entire industry needs to face. Only by working together towards innovative solutions will we be able to overcome these significant challenges. It starts with our industry associations, like AHRI, HARDI, and ACCA, and others working together to attract talent to our industry.

We also need to be inclusive of as many legitimate training organizations as possible to help overcome the current state of knowledge at the field level. Much more can be explored about this -- and should be. Let’s start with an open and honest national discourse between all segments of our industry and work towards solutions that benefit everyone – oh, and  that includes consumers too!

 

Dominick Guarino is CEO of National Comfort Institute (NCI), (www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com), one of the nation’s premier Performance-BasedTM training, certification, and membership organization focused on helping contractors grow and become more profitable. His e-mail is [email protected] For more info on Performance-Based ContractingTM go to WhyPBC.com or call NCI at 800/633-7058.

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