Who’s in Charge of the HVACR industry?

Originally published: 04.01.14 by Wade Mayfield


Overcoming the “yeah, but” mentality to realize a more quality-minded, professional industry.

Who is in charge of our industry? I ask myself this question when I attend industry events and trade meetings. Please consider this fair warning: I will more than likely step on some toes if I am to really answer this question.

You see, whenever I hear of industry groups that try to set standards through certification and training, the “yeah, buts” soon follow. Whenever I hear manufacturers and distributors talk about the need to raise industry standards through certifications, the “yeah, buts” soon follow. Whenever I hear contractors talk about the need for training and certifications, the “yeah, buts” soon follow.

So what are the “yeah, buts”? They are the instant deferral of power to the lowest common denominator in our industry. The “yeah, buts” tell stories of contractors that don’t train, that don’t do things right, and will never support certifications. This one single line of thinking does more to impede the progress and professionalism of our industry than anything else, period. As soon as standards and certifications are discussed, you can count on manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and utilities to say “yeah, but.” Unfortunately, this same

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old line is used over and over again.

Why do the “yeah, buts” work? It’s really quite simple. Manufacturers and distributors protect revenue and market share because they are ultimately measured by those metrics. They know that if they take a stand and stop selling to sub-standard contractors, there are other manufacturers and distributors ready to fill their orders. No one wants to lose business. Contractors don’t want to incur the cost of education, training and certification if manufacturers and distributors don’t put some teeth into whom they are willing to do business with. Utilities don’t want to exclude those they allow into their rebate programs, so they don’t hold contractors to competency standards. As you can easily see, we’ve gotten ourselves into a vicious cycle. It’s just easier to defer to the lowest common denominator in our industry by relying on the “yeah, but” way of thinking.

As an industry we must recognize that we essentially allow the low-cost, low-quality companies to define us. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we stop to look at our industry, we quickly find that the best contractors are those that do the right things by investing in training, education, and certifications. The best contractors, by in large, are the largest contractors in any given area. You simply don’t find market areas where the lowest price and lowest quality contractors are the largest and most dominant. In fact, the lowest price and lowest quality contractors are often some of the most irrelevant ones in their areas.

So why do we do this to ourselves? We don’t set standards and demand certifications. We don’t look at our industry through the eyes of what it can be; we choose to look at it for what it is today. We don’t want to take a stand and place our support, commitment, and resources behind the contractors that want to do it right, which happen to be the best in the areas they serve. We need commitment from manufacturers, distributors, utilities, and contractors alike to realize the potential of a more professional industry.

Why Should You Care?

The HVACR world is changing. It is becoming more energy efficient. We all understand that without quality-minded contractors to install the products the right way, efficiency is just a pipe dream. Energy efficiency is a powerful driver. We either commit to leading our own industry or we will, by default, defer the leadership to the lowest common denominator of our industry. If this happens, we open the door to government regulation by showing we cannot regulate ourselves to deliver quality products and services to customers.

What Can Each Of You Do?

It’s surprisingly simple. Be a leader in your market area. Don’t defer to the lowest common denominator. Invest in training your technicians. Join organizations that exist to support contractors that do things the right way. Invest in certifications so you have the most competent technicians in your area. Rise above the “yeah, but” mentality to be an industry leader, and the best choice for HVACR customers in your area.

Wade Mayfield is president of Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, Neb.


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