There is power in being a ‘pocket contractor.’
DURING THE ANNUAL AHR EXPO LAST MONTH, YOU COULD CLEARLY SEE WHY ITS REPUTATION AS ‘THE BIG SHOW’ FOR HVACR CONTRACTORS IS WELL-DESERVED. BUT WHILE WANDERING THE MASSIVE ROWS OF SHEET METAL MACHINERY AND HVACR SYSTEMS, I COULDN’T HELP BUT TO THINK SMALL.
Exactly one year ago in SNIPS, we published a letter from contractor Mark Natterman of Mark’s Heating & Cooling in Chesterfield, Michigan, that I think sums up my thoughts about the AHR expo best:
I am a HVAC contractor in business for myself with 40 years in the trade. I am what I call a “pocket contractor,” a term I use to describe small contractors with few or no employees. I have received SNIPS magazine for years. And while I think overall the publication is well done, I think it lacks perspective from a huge sector of our trade: the pocket contractor.
Overall, AHR is a well done show. But when it came to offerings for small shops, I found it lacking. One reason could be that the audience just isn’t there. As Mark further explained in his letter, “I have never had the time or money to attend an Air Conditioning Contractors of America or Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association convention. Neither have any of the guys I see at the supply house every day.” But as Mark encouraged, “pocket contractors” warrant our full attention.
“Pocket contractors grind it out every day. We do our own books, fabricate our own duct, wash our own trucks. We file for Internal Revenue Service extensions more years than not, shuffle what little money we have around to pay our vendors, use deposits to make payroll,” he explained.
Too often in business, the word “small” is meant to denote a lack of power or influence. But nothing could be further from the truth, and it shows in the magnificent jobs that can be attributed to small shops across the country.
The Brooklyn-based Gentlemen Sheet Metal embodies that and more. For 2 hours on a Friday morning, owner Paul Appel opened his shop up to SNIPS for photos and video (look for it at SNIPSmag.com) — all while taking calls, managing the day’s expenses and decision making in between takes.
We didn’t have to tell him to act natural. He’s working. And it is his shop’s commitment to doing great work that we hope shines through in our feature story (on page 14).
In many ways, SNIPS is a “pocket” publication. Give me a call, text or email (at firstname.lastname@example.org) during any time of the day and nine times out of 10 you will get an immediate response — even if it’s just: “I’ll call you in the morning.”
Having a small team means we can immediately adjust and implement to change in the industry and keeping a close relationship with our readers keeps me informed.
We are proud to call ourselves a pocket publication, and each month I strive to produce content that punches above its weight.
Emell Derra Adolphus