by      Jim Hinshaw


Just went to our dentist last week. It was first appt available, we had moved to Dallas a few months ago and we had a referral, called and they gave us an apt for that day.  What I did not realize was what their business was like until I started talking to the young lady who was cleaning my teeth.  I asked her how long she had been in the teeth business, she said 6 years.  Then she said, actually 5 and a half, since she could not count this year.  I waited, she explained, they had been shut down in March, this was August, she was out of work for 5 months.  They got some part of their regular pay for the first 90 days, but then it dried up.


Just today, May and I were going to have a lunch at a large Mexican restaurant that we had heard good things about.  Some cars were in the parking lot, it was about 1 pm, maybe we had missed the lunch crowd.  As we got out, a couple of guys walked up to a side door, then stopped and asked if we were trying to eat there.  We said we were, had heard good things.  Turns out one of these guys was the owner, he said they had shut down the restaurant last week, his words: just couldn’t do it any longer.


Here is my point, aren’t you glad you are in an essential services industry?  Not sure about you, I was not born into this industry, just started right out of college as a sales rep for Trane.  Actually, when I graduated from University of Missouri at Rolla, Engineering School, I applied to all sorts of companies.  Had a file about an inch thick of rejection letters.  Trane came to our school to interview, I saw the interviewer had a college ring with the letters of the same fraternity that I was in, TKE.  So, I slipped him a secret signal that I was a brother, changed the interview completely.  No idea if that made the difference, but I am confident that it did not hurt my chances.


Had several roles with Trane, ended up running the Phoenix sales branch, where we were blessed with over 50% market share.  This was back in the day, but still great numbers.  Moved from Trane to a mechanical contractor, then a small residential company, ended up at Donley Service Center for a decade.  Actually, did not have a plan for these moves, but things fell into place when the time was right.  Started my consulting business in 1999, ran it for 20 years, joined up with Service Nation this year.  So, I have been in all phases of our industry, both as dealer and distributor and as a consultant.  Have been able to keep busy and productive for 5 decades.


This is a good industry, but this year I believe it has proven to be a great place to work, we are able to stay busy when others are shut down or closing their doors forever.  I did not see the Pandemic coming, we were all caught off guard.  But when everyone is locked down, staying at home for months, they really depend on companies like us to keep their heating and air conditioning and plumbing working safely and efficiently.  In many cases, there are more people at home now than ever before, a lot of people working from home.  And a lot more people using the home as an office, using the facilities all day every day, putting a strain on the mechanical systems.  Some homeowners are realizing they will be working from home for the foreseeable future, and are adding on or re-modeling to accommodate a home office.


Which brings me back to my first point.  We are needed now more than ever, the services we offer are now a necessity, not a luxury.  So the next time you are feeling sorry for yourself because someone called you out on a Saturday, or you had a tough call on a Thursday nite, got home at 9:30, never had a lunch break, missed dinner, just stop and reflect on how great it is to still get a paycheck.  And I do realize that the Government made it pretty attractive to stay at home, with an expanded benefit for those who lost their jobs this year, but that is a temporary package, not permanent.  Be thankful you have a career in an industry that is needed today, and in the future.


Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.