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FOCUS - HVAC & Plumbing - Summertime in Texas

image Matt Freund, President, Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA), Austin, TX

AUSTIN - It is that time again in Texas! When temperatures begin to climb, HVAC companies know that their busy season is starting and it is going to last for a solid six months or more. While sagacious owners strive to balance their workload throughout the year, there is no doubt that the cooling season in Texas is the most busy, most stressful, and hopefully the most profitable time of the year.



    In 2017 and beyond, the HVAC industry faces a variety of challenges.  
Some of these are not exactly new – aging workforce, getting more young people to enter the trade, safety, Baby Boomer / Gen X / Millennial coexistence – but some new challenges are also presenting – changing refrigerants, energy efficiency requirements, manufacturers selling/shipping equipment directly to owners, smart device integration, “uberization” of service industries.  It is the responsibility of the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA) to keep an eye on these types of issues, and to take action as necessary to protect our industry.
    This year, TACCA sponsored HB 3029 / SB 1439 during the 85th Texas Legislative Session.   This bill is intended to provide a more structured licensing path for people in the HVAC industry, and also allows them to shorten their on-the-job experience requirements by completing classroom work and competency exams.  This bill was filed to help attract new workers to the industry by aligning the HVAC occupational code with statewide initiatives related to P-Tech vocational training and the 60x30TX plan.   At both the state and local levels, TACCA chapters offer education and training opportunities for all sizes of companies involved in all types of HVAC work.
    On a broader scale, TACCA tracks and comments on industry issues through affiliation with national organizations.  The EPA has announced that current refrigerants will be phased out in the coming years because of their ill effect on global warming potential (GWP).  Current alternatives include flammable refrigerants and that could introduce a totally different safety concern to the industry.
    Energy efficiency requirements for HVAC systems continue to increase with every release of codebooks.  Code changes not only affect HVAC, but many of the other trades as well.  Architects, engineers, and contractors must work together to comply with code requirements without driving the construction cost too high, thereby making projects unattractive.
    Internet sales of HVAC equipment are on the rise.  While this may seem desirable to some, our trade associations are looking into the broader repercussions of this trend from an EPA perspective, a licensing perspective, and a code compliance perspective.
    Technology definitely has a place in the HVAC industry, as more and more people want to be “connected” to their HVAC system(s).  The demand for these modern conveniences requires HVAC companies to adapt to the technological changes, while keeping the owners of these HVAC systems both safe and comfortable.
    The “uberization” of service industries is definitely on the rise.  Many customers are inclined to schedule a service call the same way they would purchase other goods, and this definitely changes the way HVAC companies will think about marketing in the future.  Adapting to the behavioral trends of our customers will be important for successful companies moving forward.
    HVAC has transitioned from a luxury to a necessity in Texas over the past 50 years.  Job demand in this industry continues to rise, and workers must be ready to backfill positions being aged out, and also fill new positions being created.  Although there are new challenges facing this industry every year, HVAC continues to be a rewarding career for those involved at all levels and at all parts of the supply chain. TACCA contractors are ready to meet these challenges, and love to say “Bring on the TEXAS HEAT!” –cmw

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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net