The year was 1980, and yes, I know many of you weren’t born yet. Bear with me. The New York State Legislature had passed a bill requiring every gas furnace brought into New York State to be equipped with spark ignition. No more standing pilots!
You can imagine the uproar from technicians that were facing a new technology that, in the case of DSI (Direct Spark Ignition), didn’t always light off smoothly. What was the impact? Most learned how it operated and moved on. However, I personally know a small plumbing shop that installed one and only one gas boiler with DSI and couldn’t get it to fire properly. That was enough for them. They officially withdrew from the gas boiler business.
HVAC technology continued to move on with high efficiency gas furnaces and once again technicians were forced to learn about primary and secondary heat exchanges, draft induction, draft proving, condensate roll off and more.
Now it’s IoT (Internet of Things) and Wi-Fi technology (a facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area*). Once again technicians need to adapt.
Here’s the challenge for both technicians and HVAC service business owners. As you know, technology is moving faster all the time. If service companies and their staffs don’t keep up with the changes, someone else will step in and take their place.
Who will take the place of the HVAC contractors and technicians? The security systems industry. Companies like Protect America, Guardian Protection and ADT have been in the “living space” in homes across America for years. They have been using phone lines and Wi-Fi to connect security systems back to central station for monitoring. In my opinion, a Wi-Fi thermostat, router and modem really won’t intimidate these guys.
But they don’t know HVAC you say? All it takes is a security company with deep pockets to buy the HVAC expertise on the street. Think about it. These companies may be the next consolidators of the independent HVAC businesses in the U.S.
So what does one do? Technicians and service business owners should start reading about the technological advances that all major manufacturers are working on and now providing. Technicians need to get trained. HVAC business owners need to provide training for employees on the new technology. Everyone should understand the advantages that the new high tech systems bring to homeowners. Business owners should hire younger people that have been using smart technology for years now. Those young people are always connected and they want to stay connected and they “get it” when it comes to technology.
And, by all means look for opportunities to become part of the IoT and Wi-Fi movement that is taking hold so you don’t become like that plumber back in 1980 that officially resigned from the boiler installation business because the technology had changed.
About the Author
My name is Jim and people usually call me Jim. Sometimes I’m called James, usually at a doctor’s office. My favorite season is Summer because I like warm, sunny weather. I also like the colors of Autumn. My favorite hobby now is reading, but in the past I spent a great deal of time with my coin collection and drawing and painting pictures. My favorite sport is baseball and the Yankees are my team. I coached baseball and softball for nearly twenty years with my three children. My favorite activity is going out to dinner, throw in a little rock music from the 60’s and early 70’s and it’s a good night. My favorite quotes: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” - Henry Ford. “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” - Thomas A. Edison. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas A. Edison.More Content by Jim D'Amico