A trip to New York lent an opportunity to catch up with my good friend, Dan Holohan.

My good friend and mentor, Dan Holohan.

I was back in New York for work on an all too warm winter day. This is the winter that wasn’t! I made the most of my time on Long Island with a visit to my brothers and my nephew, who are still keeping Long Islanders warm in winter, cool in summer and the plumbing fixtures working and flowing.

While there, I also used the opportunity to catch up with my good friend and mentor,Dan Holohan. As we sat at a diner catching up over breakfast, it reminded me of when I was working in the field and Dan was my co-pilot heading off to find cool stuff to troubleshoot together.

Once the questions about the family were out of the way we began to discuss where we both see the industry trending in the years ahead. I began, “Dan, I remember leaving the business back in 2000 and being promised that equipment would be so smart it would call us up when it was getting ready to break down or just when it knew it was due for service. Sort of like the movie 2001 Space Odyssey but a lot less onerous.”

Even back then I was working on sophisticated commercial controls that could allow me to monitor the temperature remotely in a bunch of buildings and even how efficiently the equipment was working. I continued, “I see it has worked its way to the home automation, but it seems to me there’s a way to go to really own a significant place in the mainstream residential marketplace.”

Dan replied, “With tight budgets, young buyers of homes today are making tough decisions on how much they want to invest in the bells and whistles of a high-end system, so although the technology is there it’s not making its way to the field as much as would be hoped for. There is a much greater need for an economical system that is more customer friendly and in my reading I’m seeing that people and companies from outside our industry, namely the technology sector, are jumping in to our business and are getting positioned to pose a real threat to those manufacturers not taking the threat seriously and to contractors who want to stick their head in the sand.”

“What are the implications of this new trend as you see it?” I asked.

“They may just cut out the traditional manufacturers and service providers by going directly to the end user and connecting with them in a way that shows they’re more attuned to what it takes to make heating systems and a lot more as much a turnkey system as they have done to our smartphones and computers!” Dan said.

I paused to take it all in. Then I replied, “The way I see it the contractors and technicians of today may become extinct if they dig their heels in too deep and are not responsive to these changes coming downstream. To me, those who invest in building real-world training centers and positioning their companies and their staff to be able to serve the newer high-end technology have a future. Those who want things to never change and be more simplified may end up going the way of the dinosaur, but they won’t know they’re the dinosaur till it’s too late.”

We both sipped at our coffees to consider what we had been discussing and appreciated that we are both seeing the same trend from a slightly different angle within the industry based on what we both do today.

Here’s what we both agreed upon. Some smart contractors will get ahead of the curve and embrace the changes. They are already on the “Green Curve” and they are getting tied into the Home Energy Solution marketplace. They are already serving their clients by being their Total Solution Provider. Those contractors who don’t invest the time, energy and money to learn and master the higher levels of technology will be left to snap up the scraps and be in a low bidder war for the foreseeable future. 

It was a spirited give-and-take and, as usual, I walked away a smarter man for having talked with and, more importantly, listened to Dan.

So, what’s it going to be for you, your company and your staff who entrusts you to keep them gainfully employed?


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