It's a term I see practiced with vigor and regularity by many of the most successful business-people I know. Yet they almost never seem to use the word in actual conversation. I suspect they place the word in the category of either you have it or you don't, and they take it so much for granted that it's not worth discussing.

I'm talking about enthusiasm, the bouncing ball of activity expressed through style, action and word that really does separate you from the proverbial pack facing a task. And I'm not referring to the temporary, loud-mouth support for something that evaporates like a vapor once you have to do something. I'm talking about enthusiasm demonstrated by verbal assent and action.

For example, I wasn't all THAT enthusiastic when I started to write this column (it's early morning, and my coffee sits in front of me, yet unsipped), but as I type, I feel the surge, as do most writers, when they know what they want to write next.

My topic of enthusiasm for this issue isn't accidental timing. After all, you're thinking of (or have made plans to) attending HARDI's annual conference, where the best and the brightest meet even though almost all of them have pressing issues back home. The difference is that if someone wants to gain a strategic sense of the industry, the conference is almost mandatory. And you'll witness a surge of enthusiasm.

Lately, great examples of enthusiasm seem to surround me. It actually started with my good friend, Anthony Mongeluzo, a 29-year-old whiz kid who owns Medford, NJ-based Pro Computer Service, an extremely successful computer business that he started when he was 22-years-old and now operates in four states (NJ, PA, DE and MD). I was meeting Anthony for drinks, and he's like a firecracker that keeps going off. Maybe that's why he just made Inc. magazine's 5,000-fastest growing companies in the United States and the 88th-fastest growing IT company in the country. If someone meets Anthony and doesn't walk away with a surge of enthusiasm for business, then frankly, they should change professions.

Closer to our own industry, there's West Chester, PA-based American Air Distributing, Inc. When you meet with the management team, Bob Frank, Gary Bower and Tom Frank, you quickly hear the zest for their business demonstrated by their quick give-and-take when trading information and their obvious sense of camaraderie. Recently, they took this enthusiasm a step further, partnering with the Salvation Army for an annual food drive and urging their contractors to participate. They offered to drop off and pick up barrels from their customers who want to participate. In my mind, their enthusiasm for the business flows over into the community with a helping hand.

Then, there is Larry Trimbach of Dayton, OH-based 2-J Supply, who is so enthused about his vision of the business and the country that when you call him, his voicemail message quotes former U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The quote deals with the need to avoid the status quo. It's about doing something positive.

Enthusiasm is about how we approach, indeed, even take pleasure in business AND in life.

I'm not a preachy fellow (I hope), but I was in the pews of Haddonfield (NJ) United Methodist Church for the funeral of a family friend recently. While I'm not a Methodist, the words of the minister, Rev. George Morris (an exceptional homilist whom I've heard on other occasions), had a memorable ring to them. He spoke about how Ecclesiastes mentions the zest for life, that we should enjoy living. Guess what, enjoying life isn't a sin. I'm not a theologian, but putting enthusiasm into your business life is no sin, either.

I looked it up (with the help of Rev. Morris). According to Ecclesiastes in the Revised Standard Edition: “I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.”

There you have it. And so do they: Anthony Mongeluzo, Bob and Tom Frank and Gary Bower, Larry Trimbach and, yes, the Rev. George Morris, all have it too, in spades: the gift of enthusiasm.

The lesson? If you have it, continue to practice it and, hopefully, even infuse a kernel of it into your coworkers. And if you don't have it or, possibly worse, you have lost it, I would suggest that you have a reflective moment and ask yourself two questions: What went wrong, and how can I fix it?

HVACR Distribution Business welcomes letters to the editor. Please send correspondence to: Tom Pericˊ, Editor 2040 Fairfax Avenue Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 856/874-0049 or e-mail tsperic@penton.com.