It seems the politicians and chattering class speak of little but malaise these days. I'll have none of it. Neither will Joe! Who is Joe? He's just the son of a contractor who was the son of a contractor; one of the true children of our industry, who bleeds refrigerant. By background, he could be you or me. His story will inspire you.

Joe Groh grew up in the HVAC industry. He started in his Dad's shop before taking an installer position at Glen Fritze & Sons in Walnut, Illinois. After joining the Sheet Metal Workers union, Joe moved on to another contractor, Reliable Fabrications. From there he moved to an inside sales position with Lennox — a position that allowed him to use his evenings to complete the college degree he started years earlier. Always goal oriented, the marketing degree he earned represented one more check mark.

Then, following in his father's footsteps, Joe became a Lennox territory manager (TM). Dad had left the family business to work for a Carrier distributor before becoming Lennox's top TM. Later, Dad started a contracting company.

Joe progressed steadily up the Lennox ladder before leaving to run marketing for an Armstrong distributor. Executive positions at Titus and PCI followed. Then, Joe's life turned upside down.

On Fathers Day 2008, after two of his three kids came for a visit. When his oldest son left, Joe decided to hit the bike trail for an aerobic workout. Riding fast, he hit a patch of sand and life changed. Joe was thrown from his bike and hit head first. When he woke, he instantly knew he was in trouble. In his mind's eye, he saw his arms and legs in the position last held on his bike. Yet, he could see his arm flat on the ground. And he couldn't move it.

The fall damaged Joe's spine.

For 30 minutes Joe called for help. Finally, a jogger found him. While waiting for the ambulance, Joe conducted a personal motivational seminar. He told himself that he better get his attitude straight. “Life is going to be different,” he told himself, “So you better get used to it.”

“There are two ways you can live your life,” says Joe today. “You can get down about it and be difficult for everyone around you…or not. I choose ‘not.’ Frankly, I don't know how else to live.”

“I'm the same person from the shoulders up. That's where it happens, anyway. So, I can keep being the same person.”

“Yeah, he's the same guy,” says Joe's wife, Sue, with a smile.

“Plus,” says Joe, “I realized my family still needs me. This has brought our family closer. It has strengthened our faith.”

“And,” he adds, “As a disabled person I have a debt to contribute to others.”

Debt? What debt could he possibly owe? In the midst of personal tragedy, Joe talks about miracles from others. He talks about the unknown neighbor who helped get foundation money to modify the Groh home for a wheelchair while Joe was in the intensive care unit.

“We hadn't even thought about the problems we would have and the problems were already being solved,” he remarked.

As a result, Joe wants to make miracles for others. He wants to set up a foundation to help people in the HVAC industry who experience “life changing events.” Beyond the foundation, Joe wants to contribute to society and the industry by tapping into his considerable experience and skills as a writer. Finally, he wants to be as independent as possible.

For the latter goal, he needs a few more miracles. The expenses are already stratospheric and will continue to mount. Medical bills aside, Joe needs a special bed, a voice activated computer, a power wheelchair, and voice activated home automation.

Joe Groh is an inspiration. Rather than focus on the malaise, Joe focuses on the miraculous. Visit his website at JoeGrohSCIFund.org and help fund more miracles for Joe and others in the industry.

You can email Joe at JSGroh@Verizon.net. For information about a charity golf tournament to help Joe in April, contact Vicki La Plant at vicki@vleishvac.com (903.786.6262) or Mike Hajduk at mikeh@servicemanager.com (817.459.4500).

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com) and a firm believer in miracles. You can reach Matt by email at Matt.Michel@ServiceRoundtable.com or by phone at 214.995.8889. For information on the Retail Contractor Coalition, visit ContractorCoalition.com or call toll free 877.262.3341.

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