The Lie That is Hurting the Maintenance Industry (and the HUGE Opportunity)

I sat in on an HVAC education session at a facility maintenance industry conference a couple of years ago. The man leading the course took the last 10 minutes to ask the audience a question.

“By a show of hands, who in this room wants their kids to grow up to be an HVAC technician?”

I looked around to see my hand was one of only several hands in the air out of a couple hundred in the room.

The point this man was made was that it’s hard to find good people in the HVAC industry, and that the expectations of the technicians who show up to make repairs at these retail and restaurant locations should be lowered because they simply can’t attract good help.

I was appalled.

There is a lie we have told my entire generation of millenials. The lie is that you only have value in society if you go to college and get a desk job. Working with our hands is beneath us. As a result, we have people with degrees chasing jobs that have will continue to be automated and outsourced.

I run a facilities maintenance company. When I ask our vendors what their biggest threat to their business is, it’s finding people to do the work. Their best technicians are approaching retirement, and young people aren’t entering the industry.

We are approaching one of the biggest deficits of plumbers, electricians, HVAC and refrigeration technicians, kitchen equipment technians, carpenters, etc. that we have ever seen. This is going to lead to the skyrocketing costs in the maintenance industry over the next 3 to 15  years. I have watched it happen steadily over the last decade, and it’s about to happen even faster than before.

This is going to lead to the skyrocketing costs in the maintenance industry over the next 3 to 15 years.

We have to stop this lie, and change the message.

First, human value does not come from the work we do. We have intrinsic value.

Second, this workforce deficit creates a huge opportunity for our children. I am calling it right now. Journeyman level licensed technicians will demand 6 figure annual incomes within the next 7 years because scarcity drives prices up. What an opportunity? Why not stop the cycle  of devaluing the maintenance industry? Fixing things…maintenance…is one of the most important functions of society? Would you really want to live in a state of disrepair?

I hope I am in a room one day when someone asks who wants their kid to grow up to be an HVAC technician and those with their hands down are the minority.