So how did you celebrate the week of April 23? Did you exchange gifts of heating and cooling products? Did you gather all of your friends and family, and reminisce about the rich history of the heating and cooling industry?

If you weren't aware, April 23-29 was National Indoor Comfort Week. I know there weren't any parades or television specials to mark the occasion, but it is a nationally recognized week passed by Congress three years ago.

It was the Air Conditioning Contractors of America that originally lobbied for Indoor Comfort Week, but it is now sponsored by many of the major HVACR industry associations, including the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the Heating, Air-conditioning, Refrigeration Distributors International.

I think for many people the first reaction is to laugh when you hear about "Indoor Comfort Week." The reason is because there is a day, a week or a month for everything now. I don't know if they are all nationally recognized, but May is considered national bike month. It is also the month for National Teachers Day.

What about this month? October not only observes Halloween and Columbus Day, it is also the month for Mother-In-Law Day and National Children's Day. As if every day wasn't children's day.

Waste of time?

So why do I mention all of this? Last week, my boss, SNIPS editor Michael McConnell, brought my attention to an editorial in the Las Vegas Sun called "Puffery is not a priority."

The editorial talked about how the state and national government wastes too much time recognizing people, groups and state symbols. All the while, there are important issues that need to be resolved.

The editorial's author also mentions that the Arizona Star checked congressional records and found that over 600 commemorative resolutions had taken place during the current Congressional session. One such resolution, noted by the author, was National Indoor Comfort Week.

Immediately after reading the editorial, I found myself agreeing with it. Aren't there more important things to discuss? It reminded me of a story I saw on my local news about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoing a bill that would have made Zinfandel the state wine of California. Schwarzenegger didn't veto the bill because he thought it was a waste of time; he vetoed the bill because, according to him, California offers so many great wines and selecting one over another just wouldn't be right.

Last time I checked, California had many other issues to deal with that were more important than selecting an alcoholic beverage to represent the state.

Important issues

For people outside the HVAC industry, I can see how Indoor Comfort Week would be frustrating. There are far more important things to be concerned about, such as health care. (That is another issue the ACCA is taking on, and you can read all about it on page 22.)

As I said before, I agreed with much of the "puffery" editorial. But I don't agree with it fully. Do our elected officials waste time? Absolutely. But according to the ACCA, National Indoor Comfort Week is an opportunity to expose people to this "hidden industry."

I've been working for SNIPS magazine for over two years now. Before that, I was the training and education editor for our sister publication, The Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration News. Over the past six years, I can honestly say that people outside of the HVACR industry don't have a clue what it is all about. Not only do people take for granted that their buildings will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, they don't know what kind of skills are involved in being an HVAC contractor.

More importantly, most people still believe that an HVAC technician is on the low rung of the career ladder. They still see vocational education as the place where you send those kids who aren't smart enough for college.

I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent individual. I graduated from college with a degree in journalism. But does that make me smarter than anyone in the HVAC industry? No way. I would never be able to do what an HVAC technician does. Not only is it hard work, but the math and science involved in heating and cooling technology is something I could never grasp.

For many of our readers, finding qualified employees is a challenge. And I believe that is the real point of National Indoor Comfort Week. It's about changing the perception of an industry. The sheet metal and HVAC industry can offer a bright future for individuals who have the talent and skills. But many of those people are not entering the industry because they believe an HVAC or sheet metal technician is just a "wrench-turner."

So what are you doing to change perceptions? What are you doing to recruit talented people to the sheet metal industry? SNIPS magazine would love to hear your strategies. Send me an e-mail at siegelj@bnpmedia.com. You're comments might be used in an upcoming article about technician recruitment and retention.

National Indoor Comfort Week was not a waste of time. Debating the merit of state birds and flowers may be a different story.

If you want more information on National Indoor Comfort Week, go to www.comfortweek.com.

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