David Holt, Training

David Holt is Director, Business Training and Coaching for National Comfort Institute

The measure of a great country are the people who lead it. Each February, the United States of America celebrates the birth of our greatest — the 16th President of the United States — Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln

Lincoln was first called Honest Abe when he worked as a young store clerk in New Salem, Illinois. Legend has it that whenever he realized he shortchanged a customer, he would close shop and deliver the correct change – regardless of how far he had to walk. It was simply a matter of integrity to him.

If Abe was an HVAC contractor today, his honesty would cause him to measure the performance of every system he serviced and installed, He would do that to ensure customers weren’t shortchanged. It would simply be a matter of integrity to him.

In fact, he probably would have written a speech to share his promise that all customers deserved the safest, healthiest, most comfortable, and energy efficient system possible. That speech might have gone something like this today…

The Performance-Based Address: Measure, Don’t Guess

(Based on the Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863) Five score and fifteen years ago, the father of modern air conditioning, Willis Carrier, brought forth into this world an innovation. It was conceived in Buffalo, New York and dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children deserve to live in the safest, healthiest, most comfortable, and energy efficient buildings possible.

Now we are engaged in a great battle, testing and proving whether that air conditioning system, or any system so conceived and so dedicated, can deliver as promised. We must measure, we cannot guess, if it is to be so.

An American Measure of Greatness -- Abe Lincoln

Engraving From 1868 Featuring The 16th American President, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Lived From 1809 Until 1865.

We are involved in a great industry that is at war with itself – the “box swapping low-bid tradesmen” versus the “performance-based value-priced craftsmen.” We have therefore dedicated ourselves to participate as craftsmen that truly believe all customers deserve our very best. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot resolve these issues overnight. The brave men and women, living and dead, who struggled in crawlspaces, basements, and attics before us, have laid the groundwork and provided tremendous opportunity for us as performance-based craftsmen. We have much work ahead of us to resolve the multitude of performance-related issues left in their tracks.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we did for them in their homes and businesses. No longer do our customers suffer from unsafe living conditions, too much dust, uncomfortable rooms, high utility bills, or noisy, unreliable systems. They now live in ultimate indoor comfort.

It is for us, the performance-based craftsmen, to be dedicated to the unfinished work which the tradesmen began in new construction. While we wish them well and pray that they will do better in the future, we cannot disregard the fact that low-bid is the rule of the day in new construction. We devote our working lives to improving that which needs improvement for the betterment of our valued customers.

It is for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these poorly performing systems we take increased devotion to that cause of improved performance brought forth by testing, redesigning, renovating and maintaining systems as demanded by our customers. Our goal is simple: to ensure that our customer gets all that they deserve which results in a sustainable business and a life-long employment opportunity for our co-craftsmen and craftswomen.

We now highly resolve that these systems shall not have been installed in vain — that this industry, under self-directed improvement measures, shall have a new birth of performance — and that HVAC systems installed first by tradesmen, then renovated by craftsmen, shall not perish from the earth but live a long and productive life delivering ultimate indoor comfort for generations to come.

Abe “HVAC Craftsman” Lincoln
February 1, 2017

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Integrity is the fuel that continuously drives a performance-based craftsman. Think about it: How can you possibly service or install a system and “guess” that it’s delivering all that it should for your customer? Remember this:

  • It’s integrity that causes your team to stop, install test ports, and measure static pressure.
  • It’s integrity that leads them to use those measurements and plot airflow on a fan performance chart.
  • It’s integrity that ensures that the customer is educated about ways they can enjoy safer, healthier, more comfortable, and energy efficient homes and offices.
  • It’s integrity that transforms tradesmen into craftsmen.

When integrity is the foundation of your work, you sleep well at night knowing you did your best and your customer knows it. When they recognize the value that your team provides, customers gladly pay a premium price for your premium product, enroll in maintenance agreement programs, provide glowing reviews or testimonials, and refer you to their friends.

Measure, don’t guess. It’s simply a matter of conscience. Honest Abe would be proud!