What role does the Internet have in your business? Since you're reading this column, I'll bet it's substantial. However, as I've mentioned in earlier columns, several surveys have shown that the Internet's day-to-day value for the typical hvac or sheet metal contractor is hard to quantify. That doesn't stop people from trying, though.

HvacTV.com recently surveyed 366 Web site visitors about what they used the Internet for on a regular basis. The results showed most contractors used the Web for a number of different activities, including research (28%) and training (20%). Other activities were far less popular: Only a little more than 2% used the Web to advertise or purchase business-related products. Communication (through e-mail, presumably) was used by more than 7% of respondents. The least popular activity? Entertainment, with only 1.64% of survey participants saying they use the Web to amuse themselves (at least when the boss is watching).

For more information on the survey as well as the wealth of information available on HvacTV.com, go to www.hvactv.com.

That reminds me - I have a question: Readers, what do you use the Web for? Let me know. E-mail me at mcconnellm@bnp.com.

  • Speaking of HvacTV.com, the Web site company recently joined with Johnstone Supply and Honeywell to offer a free, Web-based training program for service contractor owners, service managers and technicians. Called "Service Success," the five-part multimedia program is hosted by Tom Piscitelli, an expert in contractor training.

    The sessions, which include topics such as add-on sales, building trust and repairing vs. replacing equipment, are broadcast live over the Internet at www.hvactv.com/js/ or through a link at www.johnstonesupply.com.

    "Service Success really emphasizes the point that in today's market, long-term success will belong to the contractor who does the best job of developing a satisfied, loyal customer base," said Todd Shuman, national account business leader for Honeywell.

    The next live session is scheduled for Nov. 21. A pre-session information packet is also available, which includes a videotape of the event, view notes and more. For cost and other information, call (503) 256-3668, Ext. 318.

  • Duct manufacturer McGill AirFlow Corp. recently announced several upgrades to its Web site, www.mcgillairflow.com. The site now includes "Ask the Hvac Expert" and "Current Awareness Service" sections. The CAS helps subscribers stay up to date on new duct designs and provides free updates via e-mail. The selection of downloadable product literature, technical bulletins and white papers has also been increased on the Web site.

    Check it out. It's at www.mcgillairflow.com.

  • Clampco Products, a Wadsworth, Ohio-based manufacturer of stainless steel T-bolt clamps and V-band couplings, recently went on-line with its own Web site. At www.clampco.com, visitors can peruse design code charts for clamps and couplings. Instructions walk visitors through the process of specifying custom fastening solutions. Dimensional data, specifications and measuring instructions are also included.

  • The Greater New York chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America has launched its own Web site at www.accany.org. The site includes a calendar if events, contractor and associate listings, hvac links, surveys and more.

  • Metal-Fab Inc., makers of the SureLock' B-Vent locking system, have added information on more products, specifications, installation things and other topic to www.metal-fabinc.com. The interactive Web site now has product information on every company product line, including pellet chimney, black pipe, single- and double-wall pressure-rated chimney and more.