My Dad Changed HVAC & Me

With Father's Day passing recently, I have been reflecting on my relationship with my Dad and how he has helped shape my journey through HVAC. It is more common than not to find people in residential HVAC to be a second or even third-generation tradesperson. Deciding to get into trade is easy when you grow up, with much of your life revolving around heating and air conditioning.

My Dad started working for Trane in the 1970s, years before I was born. Few people might remember that Trane had its own residential service and installation division called “Trane Comfort Corps.” My Dad's beginnings were very similar to those of many of us in the trade. He started off sweeping floors and stocking shelves. He worked his way up at Trane and several other notable Chicago-based companies until he started his own company in the early 90s, around the same time my parents got divorced.

Having divorced parents and a Dad trying to survive with his new company didn't leave much quality time for him and me. When I could visit him in the summer and on weekends, I always jumped at the chance to spend alone time with him working in the trade. I remember going with him to replace condensers on early summer mornings. I would sit on the ground next to him, going through every tool in his toolbox, one by one, asking him the name of each tool. Eventually, I remembered the name of each tool and could hand him what he needed when asked. As time went by, I started learning basic processes. I was around 10 or 11 years old at the time and remember watching my Dad lift condensers on and off his truck by himself, thinking he had the strength of Superman. I was in awe that he could work on these complex machines and understand how to keep them running correctly.

As I got older, my interest in music and girls grew. I started spending less time working with my Dad and more time with my friends. I hated high school and couldn't wait for it to end, and when it did, I didn't jump at the chance to go to college. I wanted to take some time off and planned to revisit the college idea after enjoying a year of freedom.

After several months of living irresponsibly, my Dad recommended that I come to work for him. I tried it out for a few weekends and made decent money, so I decided to stick with it for a bit. Not because I enjoyed HVAC—it was because I was making better money than I probably should have. I felt like the other guys looked at me like I was the boss's son. I'm sure there are many people in this trade with the same story, and usually, this story has one of two realities. First, you live up to the low expectations set by the other employees, never really earning your position in the company. Or the second, you work as hard as you can to prove to everyone that you belong just as much as everyone else.

In the beginning, I didn't belong. I didn't take HVAC seriously and never considered it a permanent career. I was a musician, and I planned to make it big. There was even a period when I always wore a hat to work to hide my blue mohawk. Unfortunately, my music career never panned out.

My Dad allowed me time to mature and fail, and I did fail so many times. Without that opportunity, I would have never been able to start to succeed. As time went on, I got married and started a family. As time passed, my Dad gave me more and more opportunities to learn and grow.

In 2012, my Dad decided to sell the family company. This move was a blow to my reality. I really didn't know what I was going to do. I worked for the new owners for a short time, but they drastically cut my hours, making it hard to support my family. I made the decision to start my own company, A-Team Heating and Air Conditioning. In the first several months, I took any job I could get as a survival tactic. My Dad saw this and volunteered to help me and get the company off its feet. He cosigned on a loan for a new truck when I didn't have any credit. He helped me get my first shop—and second, for that matter.

When I disagreed with how we always did things, my Dad kept an open mind and allowed me to find my path. Even if he didn't agree with my choices, he has been highly encouraging and supportive throughout my career. I would have never been able to accomplish what I have without the help of my Dad.

In 2023, I was burned out. I was struggling financially and have dealt with bouts of depression for several years. I decided that I needed to make a change. Running an HVAC company was no longer for me. I realized that I had checked out long ago. One of the only things that kept me going was my Dad. The highlight of my mornings was spending an hour sitting with my Dad, drinking coffee, and talking about something or even nothing at all. I realized I had hung on for so long because I feared we would lose this connection. HVAC was our thing.

I eventually decided to sell A-Team and go to work for the National Comfort Institute. Selling A-Team was one of the most challenging decisions I have ever made. I had spent the last 25 years working with my Dad, and I made a decision to end that. I made this change for my physical and mental health and for the future of my family. But I know I never would have had this opportunity if my Dad had not given me the freedom to grow.

My Dad cares more about the well-being of my family than himself. My Dad is a rockstar and has positively impacted me, my family, my career, and this trade. He has made his mark on HVAC and has given me the desire to attempt to make mine as well. He is one of my closest friends and biggest inspirations in my life. I owe the success of my career and so much more to my Dad.

—Adam Mufich



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