While working in my tool shed the other day, I broke off a hose bib when I moved something.

And since there was no shutoff, I had to turn off all the water at the main. Then I grabbed the piece I’d broken (very important) and headed over to my local hardware supply to see “Joe,” the store’s plumbing guru.

Understand that I’m a technical guy and when it comes to plumbing my work is the type they write case histories about (it’s pretty bad).

When it comes to running a company, give me a person with a business degree (not a technician). When it comes to installing HVACR equipment, I prefer people with plumbing experience because they understand pressures, flows, welding and soldering. But when it comes to troubleshooting, give me a technical guy with electrical experience (my forte).

“Joe” is a retired plumber who works in the hardware store to supplement his retirement income and he really knows his stuff. So when I handed him the broken-off part, he immediately told me how it had been installed wrong and that it was the wrong part. Then he got me all the pieces I would need and told me how to correctly install it. If it wasn’t for him, I would have even purchased the wrong pipe and cement!

There’s something to be learned from this story when it comes to the HVACR parts counter. Where do we get the people to man them?

It has been said (and I agree) that someone who has experience with selling parts in any industry (such as an automobile dealership) is a good choice, since they understand stocking and how to find and order things from catalogs. But you will increase your business if you also hire at least one retired service tech that can help out the technicians at your counters and give good advice. Although they may not admit it, everyone needs some help from time to time, and if they can find this help at your parts counter, they will buy more from you.

Also, if you sell equipment it’s good to have such a person available to occasionally go out and look at problem jobs. As the service/training manager for a large Carrier distributor for many years, this is what I did. And I don’t know how any equipment distributors and their suppliers can get by without such a person. As this distributor’s HVACR technical guru I saw things you couldn’t imagine. And working for such a large company, I saw troubled jobs and equipment in every size and shape.

Where do you find such retired and experienced technical people? They’re all around you. You just have to let them know you’re looking. Yep, they’re old, retired and not always in the best shape, so they may have to work shorter hours or miss days for doctor appointments. But, you’ll. be surprised how valuable they’ll soon become to your company.

The woman who runs our local hardware store understands this and she’ll only hire such people because they’re honest, show up on time, value and enjoy their jobs, and customers come in because of them. Also, because their income is just supplemental, she doesn’t have to pay them as much.

Just a word from an old guy about other old guys.




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