General


Sensible Talk about Climate Change

Any time you talk about climate change, you open the door to a lot of passion. On the one hand, you have people saying that we must take all necessary steps right now, regardless of cost, to reduce our impact on the planet lest we destroy it in the very near future. On the other hand, you have those saying that all the talk about climate change is simply hysteria, citing examples of those calling global warming “a multibillion-dollar worldwide industry, created by fanatical anti-industrial environmentalists.” In reality, the truth is somewhere in between.

 

Scientists have known about the heating potential of gases such as carbon dioxide since British physicist John Tyndall first began experiments in 1859, leading to the discovery that CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs the sun’s heat. In 1938 an engineer by the name of Guy Callander published a study suggesting increased atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel combustion was causing global warming. In 1958 US climate scientist Charles Keeling became the first scientist to confirm that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising rather than being fully absorbed by forests and oceans. (Carbon sinks) In 1988 NASA presented testimony to the U.S. Senate stating that increases in CO2 were roaming the planet and changing our climate. The 1987 Montréal protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. It was signed by all 197 members of the United Nations and has resulted in the phase down/out of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs. (Hydro chlorofluorocarbons)

Climate Change

Climate Change: Armageddon or a Bright Future?
Picture courtesy of themedicalbag.com

 

The current administration has been very active in the discussion on climate change, in 2010 it tried but failed to pass a cap and trade system. When that failed, they began tightening EPA restrictions by executive order, creating some consternation within the HVAC industry. In his 2015 State of the Union address Pres. Obama said that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” In 2016 the Obama administration essentially called for a carbon tax in the State of the Union address when the President suggested he wants to “change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and the earth.” This was followed up only this week when the president directed the Pentagon to incorporate climate change in everything they do, from weapons testing to training troops to war planning to joint exercises with allies. Critics like Nobel laureate Ivar Giaver rejected the president’s claims that man-made global warming is causing climate change, calling the president “dead wrong.” Giaver claims that global warming studies by Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri (former United Nations climate head) measured the average temperature for the world for one year, and says this means nothing. He says that from 1880 to 2015, the temperature has increased 0.3%, and he says he thinks the temperature during that time has been “amazingly stable.” Still others cite the new Ice Age predicted by 1970s global cooling advocates, which hasn’t come to pass. More recently, MIT graduate Charles Clough argues that the link between CO2 levels and global temperature averages are insufficient, because they fail to look at their correlation before the Industrial Revolution. According to Clough, pre industrial CO2 levels remained relatively constant while global temperatures have not.

 

So what should we believe? It would seem prudent to take all reasonable steps to minimize our impact on the planet, which after all, is the only one we have. At the same time, we need to continue learning all we can about our planet and the things that affect it, without assuming that science as we know it today is all defining. Clean energy initiatives should be pursued with vigor, but with the realization (as cited in a recent MIT Technology Review article) that wind and solar power, in spite of declining costs are intermittent energy sources that are insufficient at affordable prices for a modern industrial society. In essence, we should avoid the temptation by some to overreact in ways that would throw tens of thousands out of work in certain industries while raising basic costs of consumer goods that could result in unforeseen economic changes. In other words, let’s use some common sense for Pete’s sake!


Doubling down on Your Employees Health

Doubling down on Your Employees Health

Given the current upheaval in healthcare, employers face more questions than ever.  As employers wrestle with the new landscape they find themselves in, some have decided to link their employee’s lifestyle with premiums.  Some have implemented premiums for employees who smoke or who are overweight.  Others however have doubled down on investing in their employee’s health and welfare in a variety of creative ways.  Matt Bishop discusses some of these in a recent ACH & R article.

BP air conditioning in Glendale, New York opened a 3000 ft. gym for employees, free of charge, in mid-2013.  “So far, its paid dividends as participation has remained constant,” John Fannin, BP group president said.  The total investment thus far was $78,000, but according to Fannin, “we went all in.”

TD industries in Dallas has long considered employee wellness a big priority.  In 2003, the company started reimbursing employees for activities or purchases that aided in a healthy lifestyle.  In 2007 it started a wellness committee, and in 2009 the company engaged a wellness provider to help monitor and provide structure to the program.  “As partners get more involved in activities, they can earn points that allow them to have reduced insurance premium rates or use those points to purchase items such as hotel discounts, electronics and iTunes gift cards,” said Maureen Underwood, EVP, people department.

Neither BP Air Conditioning nor TD industries have seen reduce rates from health insurance companies, nor have they been able to correlate reduced healthcare costs with its wellness program.  While that may come in the future, both have seen a lot of excitement and employee participation in their programs.  Since its inception in 2009, TD industries has seen a 38% participation rate in its formal wellness program.  “Successes from the program rewards and contests has motivated many to participate that would not have otherwise,” said Underwood.

The investment in these various programs is worth it for the companies, because healthier employees have meant better, stronger, more energized workers.  That’s been the case at the BP group as the company’s two owners are pleased with their return on investment.  “Investing in the wellness of each TD partner is a great investment for our company,” said Harold McDowell, CEO.  “A healthy workforce increases productivity and enhances partner engagement and satisfaction, which in turn, translates into the high quality of work our clients expect from TD.”

Source: ACH & R news, March 17, Matt Bishop


Does Your Company Have A Social Media Policy?

Does Your Company Have A Social Media Policy?

When you mentioned social media to some contractors, they might think of Facebook, or Twitter or perhaps LinkedIn.  While those are arguably the main ones, there are a host of others including Google Plus, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest and Instagram to name just a few.  Joanna Turpen explored this subject with contractors in a News article some time back, and her findings should cause every contractor to think about this topic.

Are you concerned about employees using these sites on company time, and perhaps posting damaging or inflammatory comments about the company, coworkers or customers?  If so, you’re not alone.  According to the article, employers social media policies have also attracted the attention of the National Labor Relations Board, which is recently struck down several of these policies, stating that some of the provisions in the employer’s policies are too broad and therefore unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act.  That is why it is important that any policy you implement has been evaluated by a lawyer and/or HR professional.

Joanna found, as might be expected, a diversity of opinion on the subject.  While most contractors who have a policy tell their employees they will not tolerate the posting of information detrimental to the company or its employees, restrictions beyond that vary.  Some take more of a laissez-faire approach while others actively monitor their employees online activities.  One thing is for sure however, your employees will be active on social media so as an organization, it is up to you to decide what your organization’s approach will be.  If you’re not sure what your approach should be, seek the counsel of other contractors and other small businesses you know and respect for their ideas.  Typically, the construct of a social media policy for your organization will not be in a vacuum, rather it will be in the context of an overall policy manual for your organization.  There are many inputs for designing such a manual if you do not have one, the key is that any such document should reflect the values you have for your organization while simultaneously making sure it does not breach any ethical or legal barriers.
Source: ACH & R news


What Are You Thankful for?

What Are You Thankful for?

It’s that time of year again.  Enjoying a long holiday weekend, getting together with family, eating too much and watching football games.  Rushing from place to place trying to get an early start on Christmas shopping.  Studying hard for end of semester exams or finishing budgets for 2014.  Running the last of your maintenance agreements before the cold weather arrives and demand service starts getting hectic.  Finishing that construction project before the end of the year.  It seems that it should not yet be this time of the year and we remark, “I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving, the year has gone by so fast.”  Indeed it has.  We live in a busy world which seems to spin a little faster every cycle.

The other day I took a walk through a nature preserve near our house.  It is a 2 acre retreat where I can decompress from some of the craziness described above.  At one point I noticed a young lady well-dressed in a matching jogging suit enter the trail with her dog.  She was talking a mile a minute on her cell phone and barely acknowledged me as we passed.  Some time later I passed her again as she was returning to her starting point, she was still on her phone and did not acknowledge me at all.  I had to wonder whether or not she arrived back home more stressed than when she started her walk.  Had her life burdens increased as a result of that phone call or had she added items to her to do list?  I’ll bet there are a couple of things she did not do, and that is to enjoy the beauty of a colorful late fall in Texas, or the look and feel of a perfect fall day with mild temperatures.  The large trees near the creek where she lives were showing off in their display of red, orange, yellow and green.  We don’t always get a lot of color this time of the year in Texas, but this fall was not one of those years.

In the midst of all your plans and all your to do lists, don’t forget to take time to appreciate and give thanks for all those things we don’t often think about.  Our health, the display of nature around us, our business, our friends and our family.  This is the time of the year to put a little balance in our lives.  Happy Thanksgiving.


North Texas Giving Day

North Texas Giving Day

Many of you are probably participating in your employers 401(k), and that same employer will likely match your donation in some percentage up to a maximum.  That employer match and the return it provides for makes it a logical first step in your retirement plan.

Some of you may have a favorite charity that you support and/or give to, there are many worthwhile charities in North Texas.  Wouldn’t it be great if you were to make a donation to your favorite charity and have it leveraged the same way your employer does for your 401(k)?  Well, that can happen if your favorite charity is registered with the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT).

There is an event in North Texas that happens once a year, this year it is happening on Thursday, September 19.  It is called North Texas Giving Day and it is sponsored By the Communities Foundation of Texas and is transacted through Donor Bridge of Texas.  The communities foundation of Texas has its roots in The Dallas Community Chest Trust Fund going back to July, 1953.  CFT provides grants to support a variety of community issues in North Texas, and it encourages individuals, families and businesses to partner with them to fulfill their charitable goals.  Their trustees steward $775 million in assets across nearly 900 charitable funds.  They seek to educate the community regarding pressing needs any organizations that are addressing them.

Check out the link below to see if one of your favorite charities is listed with CFT, and if they are and you are inclined to donate on September 19, your gift of $25 or more will be enhanced by CFT on a prorated basis, providing even more value for your favorite charity.  In 2012, donors made more than 37,000 gifts totaling $14.4 million benefiting more than 900 nonprofits on North Texas giving Day.

Check out all the registered organizations on this link, one of which is a favorite of Callahan Roach – The Joseph Groh Foundation.  This is a great way to help your favorite charity meet their annual goals.

http://www.donorbridgetx.org/


Lights – Camera – Action!

Lights - Camera - Action!

Recently a casting director from Hollywood contacted Kyle Gargaro of the ACH & R news about a new show they were doing on CEOs of small business.  According to the casting agent, a major broadcast network is conducting a nationwide search for a small business with 50 or more employees to participate in a new, groundbreaking, thought-provoking television series that encourages employee teambuilding and problem solving in the workplace.  It sounds like a reality show revolving around a business organization.  The casting agent is Pitman Casting and they have been involved in such shows as Extreme Makeover Home Edition and Celebrity Fit Club.

Might your company be interested in such an opportunity?  Being showcased on national TV would not only be good for the industry, it would be great for your business, Gargaro commented.  No amount of marketing could substitute for the exposure your business would get.  You would also be instantly seen as an expert in your market if you were featured on national TV.  Not only that, you would probably find some of the better techs in the area knocking on your door.

If you are chosen, the company CEO will receive $25,000 for appearing on the show.  All in all, a pretty heady experience if your company was chosen to participate in this series.  This opportunity is not for every business, but for the right company it could provide a tremendous economic boost.  To obtain more information and fill out an application, e-mail businessshow@pitmancasting.com.


Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Charity Package, Support The Joe Groh Foundation

Callahan Roach is an enthusiastic supporter Of the Joseph Groh Foundation

Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Charity Package, Support The Joe Groh Foundation

When you logon to the Callahan Roach website and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a logo for the Joseph Groh foundation on the left.  Joe is an individual who worked in the HVAC industry for little over 30 years before being rendered a quadriplegic as a result of a bicycle accident.  Since that time, Joe set up a 501(c)(3) charity designed to provide funding to those affiliated with the construction trades industry who are living with life altering disabilities, and Callahan Roach has been an enthusiastic supporter of the organization since the very beginning.  To date, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised and distributed to individuals in need, you can look at the foundation website (josephgrohfoundation.org) to read their stories.

The foundation is announcing an exciting….  But VERY limited opportunity that we wanted to make you aware of.

They have 2 tickets available for the Sunday, November 3rd AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race, PLUS 2 Pit Passes!
The donation for this package is only $250 but it is valued at much more than that.  It is a first-come first-served opportunity, so if you are interested call the nuber below.  These tickets won’t last long so call today!

For Tickets Call the Joe Groh at the foundation at 214-998-9749

Callahan Roach Encourages Philanthropy

Philanthropy can not only be accomplished through the gift of dollars, although there is no substitute.  It can also be accomplished through the gift of time and the employees of Callahan Roach lead by example.  In the busy-ness that is everyone’s daily life, time can be a resource as valuable as money.  In addition to their involvement at the Groh foundation, employees at Callahan Roach participate in the events of a number of other charitable organizations including Captain Hopes Kids And the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Like many of you, they believe when we all support each other, we’re all a little stronger.


Could Your Hiring Practices Be Considered Discriminatory?

Could Your Hiring Practices Be Considered Discriminatory?

Might you not pass a criminal background
check because you used them?

According to an article in a recent trade publication,* having a clean background check as a requirement for hiring could become problematic.  What, you say?  Am I supposed to hire criminals?

A recent statement from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said “and employers use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”  The EEOC added that employers should “eliminate policies or practices that exclude people from employment based on any criminal record.”  This is not made up!

Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association said it best.  “State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customer’s homes.  Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire the same felons.”

This latest guidance from the EEOC concerning background checks stems from title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  Notice there is no mention of criminal history, so why is the EEOC doing this?

According to Brook Duncan III, attorney and Legal Tools Resource for ACCA, “These agencies are supposed to have the expertise to interpret and enforce the law, but over the last few years they’ve become activist agencies.  They are stretching the limits of the law.”

So what is a contractor supposed to do?  Duncan still recommends the use of background checks by HVAC contractors whose employees are routinely and customers homes and workplaces area and but he notes that contractors should not be lulled into a false sense of security, as most criminal background checks are spotty at best.  Duncan further revises contractors to do their due diligence when hiring by talking to an applicant’s former employer (if possible) and conducting as thorough a background check as possible.  The EEOC has not made this law, but it may be an indication of where they intend to take their enforcement activity.
Duncan sums everything up by saying “you need to pick your poison.  Would you rather defend a lawsuit against the rapist you sent to Mrs. Jones house or would you rather defend a discrimination claim?  I’ll take the discrimination claim any day,” he said.

* Article referenced is from June 3rd column entitled “Employment Background Checks Drawing Government Scrutiny” published by ACH&R News


Joseph Groh Foundation Golf Tournament

A Unique Foundation Serving the Construction Trades Industry 

On Monday, May 6, 2013 the Joseph Groh foundation will host its fourth annual golf tournament fundraiser At Prestonwood Country Club in Dallas, Texas.

Joseph Groh Foundation Golf Tournament
Confused golfers at the 2010 tournament

Who is this foundation?  They are a unique 501(c) 3 public charity because 100% of their grants are directed to individuals related to the construction trades industry who are living with life altering disabilities.  If you haven’t noticed on their website, Callahan Roach is a supporter of this foundation and has been since their inception in 2009.

The foundation was started by Joseph Groh, a 35 year veteran of the HVAC industry prior to being rendered a quadriplegic from a bicycle accident in 2008.  The primary mission of the foundation is to provide financial support for individuals related to the construction trades industry (plumbers, HVAC, electricians, roofers etc.) who are living with life altering disabilities.  In the past, the support has ranged from providing handicapped accessible vehicles to specialized rehab equipment for those who are paralyzed to home and bath remodels and more.  To date, the foundation has issued grants to 11 different individuals, their stories can be found on the website.

The secondary mission of the foundation is to provide education and information for individuals living with spinal cord and other permanent disabilities.  This is primarily accomplished through its website, which hosts well over 100 links to other websites, categorized by subject ranging from US government sites to individual state resources to research sites to rehab facilities to much, much more.  You can learn more about Joe and this foundation by visiting Josephgrohfoundation.org.

The best ball golf tournament referenced above is the major yearly fund raiser for this foundation, so if you live in the DFW MetroPlex please consider bringing a foursome and joining in the fun.  If you are not in the DFW area, please consider a sponsorship opportunity, many different levels are available.  For more information about golf or sponsorship, go to http://www.josephgrohfoundation.org/golf.html


Don’t Forget the Local Guys

There is a great article in the August 6th HVACR news commentary section entitled, “Keep Track of Local Politics” by Kyle Gargaro. Did you see it?

In it, Kyle talks about the fact that we have reached the silly part of the 2012 election. You know, that part that wonders whether Mitt Romney cannot relate to ordinary Americans because he owns a horse or whether President Obama can be trusted because one of his mentors liked to take pictures of naked women.

He mentions however that this is a very important election for small business owners. Whomever we elect will greatly influence such key issues such as tax reform, health care, tax credits, estate taxes and more. With all of the hubbub surrounding the national election, Kyle advises small business owners not to forget about local elections. It is at this level where your influence is likely to be most impactful.

If you write or call your local congressman about an issue you are passionate about, you are likely to get a nice form letter in return. If however you contact your mayor, city manager or city councilmember, there is a much better chance you will actually be able to talk with someone who can leverage influence regarding your issue of passion. Kyle urges the reader to think about how easy is it to do business in your city. Are there regulatory or licensing hoops that are affecting your bottom line? Are there existing laws not being enforced because of lack of resources which are causing you to be less competitive because you follow the law? Can they provide market research information which can help your business better market to potential customers?

Who knows Kyle muses, maybe it will even give you the inside track on plumbing/heating/electrical work for City Hall.