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Become the Best Place to Work

Originally published: 09.01.15 by Pete Grasso

Become the Best Place to Work

High Yield Contractors discuss how they're able to recruit, train and keep employees.


One of the best ways to keep good employees is to make your company a place where they want to be — happy employees don't leave. To position your company as a great place to work, you must lay the groundwork during the recruiting phase and continue on through the entire career path of each employee hired.

We recently interviewed five High Yield Contractors from around the country to find out how they're able to recruit, train and keep their top employees happy.

<3>Q: How do you position your company with prospective employees?

Rosenberg: We rely on our great reputation and tell our story of client satisfaction. We also stress the ability to move ahead within our company.

Stom: We offer a high compensation package, but more important, we're a place they can have a career. We are a progressive company that is always evolving and driven by a positive vision.

Hunter: We've established a reputation for being a company that will always do the right thing and cares for the team and community. I let prospective employees know I take seriously the responsibility of building an environment where they can succeed.

Q: What makes a company a great place to work?

Rybak: Employees want to feel valuable. I worked for a company once where I had to sit by my phone until around 11 a.m. just to find out whether I was working or had the day off. I hated that, so now I make sure to keep everyone busy, even in the slowest times.

Imfeld: Our employees enjoy being a part of a larger company with technicians who can support each other. They also have direct access to upper management and we offer them year-round work. Money is great and all but to be looked after by a company that respects your ability is paramount.

Hunter: Employees hold the power to make it a great place … they're the ones who want to be a part of something larger than simply fixing units, but also touching lives.

The High Yield Contractor Panel

Chris Hunter, owner
Hunter Heat & Air
Ardmore, Okla.

Rich Imfeld, owner
I.C. Refrigeration
Ceres, Calif.

Michael Rosenberg, president
Rosenberg Indoor Comfort
San Antonio

Konrad Rybak, owner
Air Blue Heating and Cooling
Wheeling, Ill.

Jason Stom, CEO
Clear the Air Cooling and Heating
Friendswood, Texas

Q: How do you give special recognition to your employees?

Rosenberg: We recognize company anniversaries, as well as outstanding sales, lead generation and service agreement sales.

Hunter: Every month we have a meeting where we celebrate the previous month's success. We announce the lead performers in each of our key results areas. We also try to do something for their spouses during the busy months, because we know the toll that providing great service can take.

Q: How do you address employee turnover?

Rosenberg: Employee turnover is costly and we do everything we can to keep our employees long-term. A lot of this has to do with our hiring process and how we treat them.

Stom: The trick is better hiring practices and creating a culture to retain the ones who desire to be part of the success.

Rybak: Ours has dropped since we decided to hire the right people for long term versus hiring as we needed.

Q: How do you reward loyalty?

Rybak: We do not re-hire. If you make a decision to move on, we wish you well. But if that doesn't work out, we won't offer your position back. We also buy tools and home IAQ products for the loyal employees.

Stom: Not only do we give recognition and rewards to employees, we also involve spouses. They are a big part of success and loyalty.

Hunter: Now that we have several locations and plan to add more, our plan is to cultivate leaders from inside the company and let them lead the new areas.

Q: Where do you recruit new employees?

Rosenberg: We use our Build-A-Tech program, where we bring in technical school graduates to go through an intensive ride-along program for four to six months. Once they graduate from our program, we decide if they should go to the commercial or residential side of the company.

Hunter: Social media is my favorite — I can look at a potential candidate and see what their character and attitude is … even if they're not in our industry, if I see someone who can add value to our team, I will begin to recruit them.

Imfeld: We just tried Zip Recruiter for the first time with limited success … most prospects come from employee recommendations.

Q: What do you do that's different from the norm when it comes to recruitment and retention?

Rybak: Prospective employees get tested before they even show up — we don't give them our address to see what they do.

Rosenberg: Our Build-a-Tech program is fairly unique in that we invest six months of training tech school graduates into our type of technician. We give these individuals constant feedback to help them grow.

Hunter: Retention I believe isn't an event, but a result of a culture. If you provide a culture where employees can continue to grow and find meaning and joy in their work, then retention goes way up.

Q: What kind of training do you require for your technicians and other staff?

Rosenberg: We provide in-house training. We currently have a dedicated facility where we hold most of our training. We bring in our vendors for some of the technical training and we send our people to classes as well.

Stom: We have onsite proctors for both EPA and NATE. All of our techs are NATE certified within their first year of employment. Our CSRs and dispatchers go through weekly customer service training. It is imperative to stay sharp and up-to-speed on current trends and technology.

Hunter: We send people to every Service Nation training opportunity we can, plus we use the Ultimate Tech Academy, National Comfort Institute and Lennox.

Q: Why do you pay for employee education and training?

Rosenberg: Paid training is a benefit to our employees and it helps us in our recruitment.

Stom: It's a win-win for everyone.

Rybak: A lot of contractors lament that what happens if they pay for training and the person decides to move on — I always respond with, "what if you don't pay for training and they stay?"


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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