A letter from the President – Paul Pfannenstiel

I like to play handball.  Not too many people know what that is, so I tell them it’s like racquetball but you just use your hands instead of a racquet.  I started playing when I was 19 and have been playing constantly for 40 years now.  That’s a lot of handball games. I like to think that I’m pretty good at this game for my age, but I started too late.  The really good players started playing when they were 11 or 12 years old. They played because their father played and his father played. 

This can be true of many sports. The earlier you start, the better chance you have of excelling. Good luck making a 6A high school sports team unless you started practicing, playing, and paying for coaching at an early age.

What does this have to do with HVAC?  After all, that is usually the main focus of this blog. The relevancy is that much like sports, the best construction workers and service technicians either grew up with a parent in the trade, or in a farm environment where they learned how to fix equipment and fend for themselves. This exposure to the “trades” taught them from an early age how to problem-solve in the construction industry.

Sometimes these lessons are absorbed in a gradual natural manner without much training or thought behind it. My wife’s parents ran a small HVAC service company. She was never formally trained and we don’t talk about the refrigeration cycle at dinner, but understands many of the terms that are in our industry. Of course, I never let her touch the thermostat, but she still knows what it does. When a parent is in the trade, it is natural for the child to emulate their parent and want to know what they are working on. 

And thus the point of this fable. If the construction industry is to survive we need to do a better job of encouraging kids to learn the trades.  And not at 19, but earlier than that. Middle and high schoolers need exposure to electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, carpenters, etc. to gain excitement on what they can do for their future. Schools need to offer more classes that are hands-on. Sure, history and biology are important, but so is learning how to weld.

There is a serious shortage of skilled workers. Because of that, there is no better time for men and women to learn a trade and profit from that skill. The opportunity to set a young person up for a good financial future has never been so accessible. 

And much like handball, learning how to use your hands to succeed at a task can be very rewarding. Feel free to contact PM Contracting if you know a youngster who is searching for their vocation in life.

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