Wow! My first HVAC Comfortech event is behind me — and what an event it was. Thousands of top-notch contractors and exhibitors swarmed the Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas, TX. Based upon early reports and comments from attendees, this was undeniably the best Comfortech yet— and the biggest.

I gathered from many conversations with professional contractors that even though this industry struggles with issues similar to those I’ve seen elsewhere, it’s positioned for growth.

My background springs from 23 years in the engineering and metal working industry. Occasionally I’m inclined to jot a few thoughts down on paper; usually, when a new realization strikes that I believe may hold value for others. Granted, it may be something you already know, but I’m hopeful that a fresh perspective may open your eyes to new learning — much like I experienced at HVAC Comfortech.

Thus, an observation from the new publisher at Contracting Business.

I listened to Ray Isaac, of Isaac Heating & Air Conditioning, during his keynote presentation as he spoke of the need for professionalism and image improvement in the HVAC contracting industry. I’m told Ray practices what he preaches. No wonder his company won the Residential Contractor of the Year in 2002.

Ray’s speech was right on target. The lift that all service industries need in order to move away from the smudged images of the past is professional leadership at the top. As Ray so aptly stated, “Fish stink from the head.” I wish every one of our nearly 50,000 readers could have been present for Ray’s enlightening speech.

The top is where everything starts. Whether it’s good or bad, everything begins with the attitude that’s present in the person who’s running the ship.

I met a number of contractors throughout the four-day HVAC Comfortech conference and product showcase, all of whom I’d be glad to have work in my house. If every retail consumer and commercial building owner could see the caliber of talented people in the HVAC industry, the way I did in Dallas, there wouldn’t be an image problem to talk about.

Yet, the labor pool is quite shallow these days. The only way to enhance the image and continually attract new talent is to take on the values of the professional HVAC contractor.

This month’s issue focuses on winning management strategies used by astute contractors. It’s a great follow-up to Comfortech, where nearly 40 contractors and industry consultants shared their expertise.

Thanks to all the people who took the time to share their knowledge with our industry — and, especially our Editorial Advisory Board members who spent valuable time with our staff. The dedicated purpose of our magazine and advisory board is to provide information that helps you manage your business more successfully and create greater profits. You’ll find that and more in every issue of Contracting Business.

Click here for information about Comfortech 2004 in St Louis!

Joe Fristik, group publisher, jfristik@penton.com or call 216/931-9522.