How to Become an HVACR Expert

Published by The News

I was on the witness stand being questioned by a $260,000-per-year attorney. “Mr. Koop, how much do you think your time is worth?”

I was an electrical, plumbing, and HVAC contractor so I replied, “My time is worth $125 per hour.” I happened to know this particular attorney was billing his client $125 per hour.

I said, “Do you think that is too much to charge for expertise?”

 I tried hard to keep a straight face as he hesitated. It was quite funny, but guess what? He didn’t try to contest my value. He agreed that expertise, at least his and mine, should easily be worth $125 per hour.

 

AS AN HVAC CONTRACTOR, WHAT ARE YOU WORTH?

So, what is your expertise worth? Expertise can only come from experience. You must work in or on something long enough to learn more than the average person. A man I greatly admire once said to me, “Rodney, there is something to be said about apprenticeship and paying your dues to the profession. Experience comes from time.”

 

For example, running a backhoe for a year will allow you to be good at running a backhoe, But to be an excavation expert, one sould have 10 years or more of experience. Why? Because you can’t possibly come across enough problems and situations in a short period of time to learn all you need to know. I’m talking experiences that require you  to dig down into your subconscious and pull from your personal reservoir.

 

DO YOU KNOW MORE THAN THE OTHER GUY?

An expert is a person who has solid solutions to tough problems, and that ability takes time to develop. To move forward, though, you must have passion for what you do. You have to want to know more than the other guy. If you want to be the best in your field, you are going to have to work harder. But not just work harder, you have to dedicate the time. I knew a guy years ago who was a backhoe operator, but because of the amount of years he had operated one, he was truly an expert. On the job site, he was operating the machinery, and his father was in the hole they were digging. Out of nowhere, one of the sides of the hole collapsed, covering his father entirely. He had only seconds to act. Without hesitation, he scooped out a portion of the dirt on one side to relieve pressure and allow his father to be uncovered. He was inches away from gas lines, electrical lines, and not to mention his father’s head. Because of his expertise and his confidence in working in his trade, he not only saved his dad’s life but he did no extra damage to the job site. I’m sure he would have if he had too, but he knew exactly what to do under extreme pressure because he was an expert.

 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALL OPPORTUNITIES IN THE HVAC INDUSTRY

Opportunity brings reward but opportunity will only continue to present itself with much persistence. This means it will not always be the one in pursuit. You must seek it out. Success does not come overnight More without some difficulties and struggles. It is only in overcoming difficulties and struggles that we begin to fine tune our skills. In the HVAC industry, contractors have chosen this career path for many reasons, such as they grew up in the family business, they were guaranteed employment, or they discovered a love for finding solutions and solving problems. With our customers, confidence increases when we are considered to be the experts. When we are valued for our knowledge and time invested in our trade, it feels great. Where we struggle is when we walk out feeling like we just gave away our expertise for free. How do we change that? How do we fuse our actual worth with bottom-line results? First, we must make a decision to be the best we can be. Non-experts will rarely contest or devalue individuals who know their stuff. How do you become an expert?

  • Time– It’s the most important piece in building expertise. Not years, necessarily, but intentional time in study, preparation and work.
  • Passion– You must desperately desire to know more. This usually springs from solving problems on the job.
  • Persistence– Once around the block isn’t enough. The more you do something, the more likely it becomes second nature, which builds your skill.
  • Opportunity– This is your reward for your time, passion, and persistence. Don’t pass this up.

HVAC is a multi-layered industry. Surely, not one person can be the expert on everything. Choose a niche and give that your focus until years have passed and the knowledge you have acquired becomes second nature.

Half-hearted work never pays what true expertise has the potential to pay you. Be the expert and beat the other guy every time

What the Election Results Mean for the HVACR Industry

The economy, the fiscal cliff, sequestration, and energy independence are just a few of the issues facing the winners of the 2012 election. But, as one of Washington’s leading pundits recently stated, “This isn’t the first critical election where the stakes are high, and it won’t be the last.” Just as important as who won the election is how the business community responds to the key insights it offers, recognizing the underlying implications for our industry and even signs for optimism, or at least hope.

 

Republicans will retain control of the House, which will welcome more than 75 freshman members in January. But House membership will also include a greater number of experienced members than we saw in the last Congress, which means more former business leaders and government office holders in positions of influence. Some Congressional districts even moved toward the center of the political spectrum, offering optimism for the possibility of compromise in resolving critical issues.

In the Senate, Democrats maintained control, with (at the time of this writing) 55 seats compared to 45 Republican seats. So, neither party has the 60 percent cloture majority required to stop debate and pass its own agenda. Therefore, passage of any bill will require bi-partisan support. In addition, the Senate lost two key advocates of energy efficiency: Sens. Olympia Snowe and Jeffrey Bingaman, both known for strong bipartisan work, who retired from office this year.

Fiscal Cliff

The “fiscal cliff,” which is already affecting our national economy and could soon bring potentially severe implications to the global economy, is causing some Democrats and Republicans to talk about compromise. Republicans appear willing to consider new revenue, such as caps on tax deductions. In all probability, decisions regarding the fiscal cliff will be kicked further down the road. Look for tax cuts to be extended and sequestration delayed during December while Congress gathers data and negotiates the key decisions that must eventually be made. Everything appears to be in play, including, for example, raising the amount of income subject to high-income tax rates from $250,000 to $500,000 or even $1 million.

In the meantime, it is important that we urge our representatives and senators of both parties to seek a compromise, even if neither party gets all it wants. We recognize that a split Congress suggests that any honeymoon period that accompanies such a compromise will most likely be brief, and the potential is there for Congress to return to the partisan gridlock that smothered our country and stifled progress over the past two years.

Despite a weak, albeit gradually improving economy, the administration remained Democratic. If Congress remains gridlocked, as many pundits have suggested, we can expect to see administrative agencies become more active in promulgating regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, can promote regulations that rely on the agency’s existing legal authority and the recent court ruling that supported EPA’s “endangerment finding” related to the adverse climate-change effects of so-called greenhouse gases.

In the last Congress, House legislation that would have phased down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on a GWP-weighted basis failed to pass in the Senate. Although this bill included several very challenging provisions for our industry, it would have provided for a planned, orderly phasedown of HFCs and time for industry to develop products that use lower-GWP refrigerants. Without such legislation, EPA will likely use its existing, but limited, authority to regulate HFC refrigerants. This could create a more challenging patchwork regulation instead of a planned, orderly phasedown. Parenthetically, the European Union is moving closer to an f-gas directive that would phase down HFCs on a similar GWP-weighted basis, even if the draft directive also includes some specific bans and controls in addition to the phasedown mechanism. In any event, refrigerant regulation is likely to tighten in the months and years ahead.

Energy is the other arena where we can anticipate continued focus. The HVACR industry has proven we possess the creativity and technologies required to improve the energy efficiency of our systems. In fact, energy use in the residential and commercial building sector has declined since the 1970s, thanks to collaboration within our industry. Therefore, it is up to us, as business leaders, to challenge both the administration and the 113th Congress to implement a sound energy strategy — one that is good for business and one that is critical to our national energy independence, national security, and a faster economic recovery.

It is incumbent upon us to work together with administrative agencies, especially the Department of Energy (DOE) and the EPA, to ensure we are leading the search for solutions instead of reacting to unrealistic mandates thrust upon us.

Finally, each of us should reach out to our representatives, senators, and their staffs. Now is the perfect time to meet to raise their awareness of our businesses, where we are located, how many people we employ, and how we contribute to the economic well-being of our communities and the United States. Then, when issues do arise, we will have better credibility and will be better positioned to educate them regarding the implications of regulations and legislation on our industry, our own businesses, and the jobs we have created in our communities.

Credits