Are You Actively Working on the Dream?

Mike Weil, Director Communications, National Comfort Institute, Inc.

Mike Weil

In February, the Women in HVACR association (WHVACR) announced the appointment of its new president for 2019, Danielle Putnam. Putnam, co-founder and president of The New Flat Rate (, steps into the WHVACR role as a strong advocate for the increase of women in the industry (which, by the way, is also the mission of the organization).

This is something near and dear to my heart on a number of levels.

First, I have been a strong advocate for opening the doors to this industry to more women and minorities for years. Besides all the articles I’ve written on the subject, 15 years ago I put my money where my mouth is and offered the newly founded organization a home for their annual meetings at the tradeshow I helped manage.
From that first tradeshow event in 2004 where WHVACR met with only 40 members, the organization today boasts 400 and continues growing.

I met Danielle during those years and found her to be a strong advocate for bringing’ new blood’ into the trades. She is a forward-thinking businessperson who not only helped her father start The New Flat Rate, but also previously worked as director of business development for a large digital service firm.

Making a Difference

Besides working her day job, Danielle volunteers as a public speaker focusing on promoting careers in this industry. Furthermore, Putnam serves her community by teaching weekly classes for high school students on the importance of forming and maintaining healthy relationships and using those skills to get jobs, especially in the trades.

Her personal mission was a great fit for WHVACR, which she joined in 2012. She quickly joined their board of directors and has been actively working on the dream of attracting more people onto the HVAC career path.
‘My mission in 2019 as president of WHVACR is to continue increasing member involvement to achieve the goal of attracting more people,’ she told me recently. She then explained her agenda.

“The impending technician shortage will definitely impact you if you cannot find and train the personnel you need to make High-Performance Contracting work in your company.”

‘We’re rolling out an Ambassador Program where HVACR professionals go to schools to talk about careers in the trades. This program will eventually be rolled out in all 50 states. My goal is to have ambassadors in 29 states by year’s end.’

In addition, she told me the organization provides five educational scholarships of $2,000 each to help young people cover some of the costs of their HVACR education.

It’s this kind of dedication that makes things happen. I know many other contractors and manufacturers that dedicate time and dollars toward encouraging young people to consider HVAC as a career. But this feels different. It feels like something this industry should get behind.

Putting Your Wealth Where Your Mouth Is

If you are reading this, it’s likely because you are involved, or want to be involved, in the Performance-Based Contracting’ approach. The impending technician shortage will definitely impact you if you cannot find and train the personnel you need to make High-Performance Contracting work in your company.

So my question and challenge are this: What are you doing about it? If the answer is, ‘not as much as I should,’ consider throwing your support behind organizations like WHVACR and/or learning about ways you can make a difference.

It will take an industrywide effort to move the needle. The activities of Danielle Putnam and WHVACR are major steps in the right direction. That’s what I call, ‘working on the dream.’