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A Champion for the Trades

Originally published: 06.01.15 by Pete Grasso

A Champion for the Trades

Get ready for a lot of attention — the HVACR industry just gained a shining star that's sure to elevate awareness for all of your companies.

The Direct Energy family of brands (One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky electric) recently inked a partnership with Mike Rowe, the creator and executive producer of CNN's "Somebody's Gotta Do It" and Discovery's "Dirty Jobs."

If you're not familiar with Rowe, I can't imagine where you've been for the last 10 years. Since "Dirty Jobs" went on the air in 2003, Rowe's face, personality — and voice — has been a major presence on television, radio and, most recently, social media.

Rowe is also known for his straight-forward way of telling it like it is, which frequently goes viral as in the case last summer when he responded to a fan who asked for career advice (Career Advice is a Dirty Job).

As a part of the partnership with Direct Energy, Rowe will appear in several television commercials, radio ads and in printed material alongside real technicians from each of the brands. But, it goes so much further than that. While One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning will certainly benefit from Rowe's celebrity endorsement, the industry as a whole has a lot to gain.

For starters, through this partnership, Rowe will raise a lot of awareness to something many consumers seem to overlook — their HVACR and mechanical systems. Anything that gets this topic top-of-mind for customers and potential customers can have a positive impact on all companies in the industry.

Rowe is a champion of hard work. In 2008, he founded the mikeroweWORKS Foundation to promote the skilled trades as a career option and help equip Americans with technical and critical thinking skills. The Foundation awards scholarships to men and women who have demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for mastering a specific trade.

"The goal of mikeroweWORKS is pretty simple — help close the skills gap by encouraging men and women to get the training they need to pursue good jobs that actually exist," Rowe says. "One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky are perfect partners because, collectively, they offer thousands of jobs waiting to be filled. And they know first-hand what a 'good job' really is."

Another, and perhaps more important, part of Rowe's partnership with Direct Energy involves his foundation. The Direct Energy brands have committed to donating $100,000 in scholarships to the mikeroweWORKS Foundation over the course of 12 months, and will work alongside Rowe to promote the skilled trades industry.

His backing of our industry and the jobs available within it might just be the solution to the perceived technician shortage that's been a problem for HVACR contractor owners. Of course, we all need to do a better job of promoting the benefits of a career in HVACR.

In an exclusive interview with our Publisher Terry Tanker, Rowe said: "It's really important, in my view, to address the fact that your industry has done a bad job of presenting the opportunities in a way that is appealing. It's a hard thing to accept, but every company I've worked with that struggled with recruiting has gotten in their own way."

Rowe's solution, summed up in two words, is really quite simple: Be genuine.

Through their partnership, Rowe and Direct Energy are stepping up in a huge way to promote HVACR as a desirable, viable career path. Rowe is providing a celebrity kick-start, but the responsibility to recruit, train and educate technicians belongs to all of us.

To learn more about Mike Rowe, his Foundation and his partnership with the Direct Energy brands, visit and check out Terry Tanker's exclusive interview in next month's issue, 20 Questions with Mike Rowe.


Pete Grasso is the editor of HVACR Business magazine and the Ahead of the Curve enewsletter, as well as web content editor for and author of the blog Keeping it Simple.


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the former editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!


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