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Controlling Outside Temperatures

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Corporate Partner Spotlight

Although it will be November—when the daytime temperature in Dayton, Ohio, typically hovers in the 50s—those contractors who take a tour of Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center may experience a 75-degree heat wave…Or a frosty 20-degree cold front. That’s because Emerson can control the ambient outside temperature in the chamber, which comes in handy when testing new products.

The Helix tour will be an option offered to contractors—in addition to general and breakout education sessions—during the ACCA Next Level technology conference November 5-6 in Dayton.

ACCA Now recently interviewed Becky Hoelscher, director of aftermarket sales at Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions in Sydney, Ohio, to get the inside scoop on the center and to take advantage of her decades of marketing experience.

Tell us a little bit more about Emerson’s Helix Innovation Center. What will ACCA members see on the November tour?

The center, located on the campus of the University of Dayton, features five full-scale, simulated environments: a working commercial kitchen, a two-story residential home, a grocery store, a data center, and a commercial building. The center focuses on advancing ideas from concept to prototype quickly while testing them under real-world conditions.

During ACCA’s technology conference, Dayton could be experiencing 55 degree weather but in that chamber it could be 20 degrees—or vice versa. This is a big advantage when we are trying out new equipment. Because we can change the outside ambient temperature, we don’t have to wait on the seasons to test products.

I know you have a marking background. Where should contractors be putting their time and money for marketing?

Depends on their target. If they are announcing a new product and have a great email presence, digital is now usually the best, although I know some contractors use digital billboards or radio campaigns.

We find that most potential HVAC customers are doing online research eight months in advance of buying. Homeowners and business owners who are planning to update their systems no longer make instant decisions. They research products and companies on the Internet first, and HVAC contractors need to be in front of their potential customers while their prospects are doing research. You just have to keep in front of your audience so you are first contractor that potential customers go to.

In today’s market, many consumers rely on Google and Yelp for recommendations. For example, my son is currently out looking for a contractor to complete home repairs because of damage from recent storms. He is looking online at local companies with excellent ratings. That’s the key.

What marketing mistakes should contractors avoid?

Giving too much information too frequently. Change the message. A new approach is more noticeable than the same old thing.

In your opinion, what challenge is the industry facing right now?

Technician shortage. Some contractors are refusing work because they don’t have enough employees to handle all of their requests.

Isn’t that a nice position to be in?

Yes and no. Customers either have to go the competition or don’t get what they want when they want it.

Any suggestions for alleviating this ongoing challenge?

A couple. I believe contractors should take advantage of their opportunity to work with local trade schools and community colleges about recruiting into the HVAC industry. I also suggest that contractors advertise wages

and provide a career plan when they interviewing and recruiting for positions. We also need to tailor the job to all ages to grab experienced as well as novice technicians.

How did you get involved in the HVAC business?

I joined Copeland Corporation—although I didn’t know what it did—when it was hiring back in 90s. I started in procurement and worked my way up through the industry.

Why did you stay?

I can relate to the HVAC industry. We are fortunate to be an industry that is not going away. Everyone wants to have a comfortable and friendly environment and safe food. Plus, Emerson is a great employer with great growth potential.

Emerson is an ACCA Corporate Partner. How does partnering with ACCA benefit contractors, Emerson, and the industry as a whole?

We work with the members of the ACCA board of directors, who are contractors with experience in maintaining and servicing HVAC equipment. They are voice of the industry. As a company, Emerson benefits through its connection to the top contractors in the field and ACCA benefits from our market expertise. We all win when we can share ideas about where to take the future of our industry.

How is Emerson working with ACCA to help contractors improve their businesses?

We hold numerous seminars and take feedback from those sessions and incorporate it into our everyday work on new products.

How are you encouraging and helping contractors become members of ACCA and get the most out of their memberships?

If I talk to a contractor, I make it a point to ask if they are ACCA members. It’s a great way to have a voice in the industry, get to know peers, and share knowledge.

Margo Vanover Porter
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Sales & Marketing

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