3 Bad Techs That Don’t Know It

First, let's state the obvious and clear the air a bit. The photo above is SUPER CHEESY! But this story is about three bad techs who don't know it so three models clearly posing in clean clothes makes as good of a proxy for a bad tech as anything else.

First off, I'm not being negative about the trade or making fun of people, the point of this story is to identify some traits that many of us may exhibit or see in others techs and it can be hard to identify our own issues or issues within your organization. See if any of these techs sound a LITTLE TOO FAMILIAR and maybe we can learn something. Before you ask… No, these are not real people…. probably… maybe

Randy the Drama King

Randy, like most dramatic people who work in the trades, doesn't see himself as being dramatic. He just thinks he is being constantly disrespected by management and co-workers and customers are crazy and the dispatcher is out to get him and it's always about to rain and that ladder (and every ladder) looks unsafe.  These things aren't DRAMA they are FACTS in Randy's world and if you question this reality you get added to the long list of people who are disrespecting him.

Randy starts conversations with customers with phrases like “you aren't going to want to hear this” or “Do you want the good news or the bad news”. He also tends to pass blame to his coworkers or his company because they are just clueless and he knows what's REALLY going on.

Randy is actually a good tech, but he get's in a lot of conflicts with coworkers, customers don't always like his negativity (or as he calls it “being honest”) and he is inefficient and largely unpopular with other techs and management. Randy knows people think poorly of him because everyone is conspiring against him with that blankety-blank dispatcher Donna!

Randy always feels persecuted by the people around him and usually has something negative or conspiratorial to share about every topic. Politics, The weather, customers, co-workers, spouses… you name it.

Here is a test you can take to see if you might be a bit of a Randy

  • You have more than 5 people you are ticked off with or avoiding at any given time
  • You consistently see “danger” around you that nobody else sees
  • During work hours you have multiple conversations over 5 minutes with others about things that are “wrong”
  • You use a lot of negative and fear-inducing language with customers

If you find you are allowing negativity and drama get to you the best practice is to give yourself a break from negative speech. Like your grandma used to say, “If you don't have anything nice to say”. Negativity is a hard habit to break but the best time to start is now and the best antidote for negativity is gratefulness.

Bob the Excuseful  

Yes, excuseful is a word… I made it up and I like it.

Bob is confident that he would be able to do his job if he was just given the proper training and tools and enough time to do the job and enough sleep and wasn't forced to work these ridiculous hours. Bob often wonders if he should go back to school and get his degree in …. something and all the courses he would take if his cheapskate boss would just invest in him.

Sure he was given a book and sent to a seminar last month but that was all THEORY, he is a hands-on learner and he CANNOT learn from books or videos or seminars or anything unless he can get his hands on it.  Once he DOES get his hands on it he can't be held responsible for any mistakes he makes because he has to be SHOWN what to do and how to do it and if he isn't SHOWN how can he be held responsible? Now, when he is shown, he is a hands-on learner so he can't learn things by being shown… he needs to do it himself.

His truck may be a mess but he would clean it if he ever had time with these ridiculous hours but in the slow season that is his one time of the year to relax, you can't expect him to take his own time during the slow season to clean his van can you?

Here are some indications you may be struggling with a bit of Bobish excusefullness

  • You feel jealous when others succeed  and immediately give some reason why they have an advantage over you
  • You read fewer than 5 books last year but still feel like your lack of education is someone else's fault
  • You find yourself using “hands-on learner” as a reason for failing to understand something
  • When you don't understand something you call or text someone rather than looking up an answer yourself
  • You have a sense that your lack of progress is due to a lack of “opportunity”

The best way to stop making excuses is to begin living and working with what old-timers called “grit” or “gumption”. This means doing whatever it takes to solve problems, making excellence a goal and going after it no matter the barriers. Start by reading and learning on your own, don't wait for someone to show you or tell you, go get it yourself.

Todd the Careless

Todd knows he is just forgetful, he TRIES to remember to tie down his ladder and put the caps back on and close his back doors on his van but he just forgets sometimes OK!

Sometimes Todd get's defensive when other techs call him out for leaving the panel off or “forgetting” to clean the drain, but usually Todd just apologizes and says he will do better next time, but he knows he won't because he didn't do it on purpose, it just …… happened.

Some of the “Grouchy” old techs have told him that doesn't seem to care about his job, but they are WRONG! (in Todd's mind) he does care, he just has other things going on in his life and in his mind and sometimes accidents happen… like the time he stepped through the attic ceiling, or the time he slipped on the ladder, and that one time he rear-ended that car in the parking lot… oops

You may be a Todd if ….

  • You regularly make mistakes where you “just forgot”
  • You find yourself looking at your phone, texting and using social media during the workday
  • Your mind is preoccupied with personal matters during work and while driving

We have entered a new era of carelessness due to the advent of smartphones, social media, and texting. Many of us find our minds constantly distracted by things other than work during the work day and it leads to poor outcomes, mistakes and safety hazards. everything from climbing a ladder, to driving, to filling out a service call requires ATTENTION and distraction can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. The best advice is to put the distractions way during the work day… unless it is reading this article. Just remember to put the panels back on and run test the equipment when you are done.

— Bryan






Nomenclature and How to Use It

Nomenclature on HVAC/R equipment is a sequence of numbers and letters a manufacturer uses to speak directly to the technician. Lots of initial upfront information is handed to the technician by the manufacturer the moment the technician reads the nomenclature in the model and serial numbers.

So how do we make sense of these seemingly random sequences of alphabetical/numerical characters? Every manufacturer has developed its own “language” of sorts when it comes to their equipment. Let’s take a look at several different examples.





Now let’s take a look at all the different information these model numbers can give us. Across the manufacturers listed as examples, we can find information about Product Series, Type of Equipment, SEER, Cooling/Heating Capacity, Grille Variations, Voltage, Configuration, Cabinet Dimensions, Type of Motor, Airflow Capacity, Refrigerant Type, Efficiency, etc.

Understanding the importance of the information in model numbers is essential, and can save a lot of time in diagnosis and installation. Serial numbers, too contain valuable information. Most manufacturers don’t publish the nomenclature for serial numbers, because it’s mostly used for warehouse and warranty tracking, but a few helpful tips per manufacturer are:


Carrier: The first 2 numbers in the serial number indicate the week of the year the equipment was manufactured. The 3rd and 4th numbers indicate the year of manufacturing. 

Goodman: The first 2 numbers in the serial number indicate the year of manufacturing. The 3rd and 4th numbers indicate the week of the year it was manufactured.

Trane: Typically has the year of manufacturing printed elsewhere on the data tag

Mitsubishi: The first number in the serial number indicates the year of manufacturing. The decade must be assumed. (an “8” could mean the equipment was manufactured in 2008, or 2018)


Bottom Line 


Always take a moment to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer model/serial number nomenclature. The information you find will help you understand the system more fully and can help speed up the diagnosis/installation process.



Removing a Blower Motor

I’ve seen a lot of guys recently who reach for the motor puller tool first thing when attempting to remove a blower motor from a wheel/fan blade. Motor puller tools are an awesome backup tool when needed, but that shouldn’t be the go-to method of removing a motor.


The main issue with using a motor puller for every single motor is its tendency to bulge out the shaft. Motor pullers work by clamping down on a hub and then twisting a small shaft against the motor shaft in order to push/pull the motor/wheel away from each other. Sometimes, when technicians don’t sand down a shaft and spray the area with WD-40 or other water displacement lubricants, the shaft will get stuck and a tremendous amount of force is required to crank the motor puller shaft against the shaft of the motor. These opposing forces can significantly bulge the motor shaft. If the technician is successful in removing the motor that way, they often find it more difficult to get the motor shaft back inside the bore of the wheel. 

My hope is every technician reading this understands that the cardinal rule of removing a motor is to never use any of the following methods:

  • Use a hammer/wrench/blunt object to beat the shaft out of the assembly
  • Use channel locks of set screws
  • Use channel locks on the motor shaft
  • Over tighten the set screw

Any of the above-mentioned sins can result in expensive problems.

Please note the two things that must be completed before using a motor puller: sanding the shaft and lubrication. Guess what…


That’s all you need to do to remove a shaft!

  1. Sand the motor shaft until shiny and smooth.
  2. Spray with water displacement lubricant
  3. Loosen the set screw (but don’t remove it. They are easy to lose)
  4. (Optional) Take an adjustable wrench and gently turn the shaft independently of the wheel
  5. (Optional) Slightly push the wheel down the shaft to sand the portion of the shaft that was previously unreachable, which may have a lip that needs to be sanded down.
  6. Gravity is your friend. Let the motor fall out of the assembly. A shake or two may be required.


Voila! Those are steps a technician needs to do before using a motor puller, yet 90% of the time, those steps are all that’s needed to do the job. 


One extra tip…Blow off the sandpaper/rust debris before applying the lubricant, and don’t apply lubricant before you sand the shaft. The debris can get stuck and make things even more difficult, and sandpaper that is saturated in WD-40 doesn’t do much good.


For a video on this method, we shared a post by Brad Hicks earlier this year of him demonstrating how it's done!

The Surefire Way to Get a Blower Wheel Off


– Kaleb

The 10 Commandments of the HVAC/R Technician

One trait I've seen with good technicians is that they take their jobs VERY seriously, but they learn not to take themselves too seriously. A few months ago I had someone tell me online that I must think I'm the A/C “god” because I'm always telling everyone the “right” way to do things. This got me thinking….

I don't want to be an A/C god, too much pressure, and heaven knows I've broken all of these rules more than once. I'll settle with being an A/C Moses, descending Mount Sinai with the oracles of truth from on high

The problems with this metaphor are many, but let's roll with it. The truth is there are many “prophets” like Jim Bergmann, Dave Boyd, Dan Holohan, Jack Rise, John Tomczyk, Bill Johnson, Dick Wirz and Carter Stanfield that I have taken these “commands” from, and they likely learned these from those that came before them. Just DON'T build a golden calf to poor workmanship or we will smash the tablets and make a big mess… Ok here are the commands.

1. Thou Shalt Diagnose Completely

Don't stop at the first diagnosis. Check everything in the system, visually first if possible, and then verify with measurements. Sometimes one repair must be made before other tests can be done, but often you can find the cause of the initial problem as well as other problems BEFORE making a repair which helps save time, provides better customer service, and creates a better result.

2. Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Thine Own Reasons

Jim Bergmann often talks about how when techs don't understand something, they start making up their own reasons that something is occurring, and then train other techs in these made-up reasons. If you don't understand something, a bit of research and study goes a long way.

3. Thou Shalt Not Change Parts in Vain

In other words, DON'T BE A PARTS CHANGER. Never condemn a part on a guess or make a diagnosis out of frustration. Get to the bottom of the issue no matter how long it takes. This is better for the customer, the company, the manufacturer, and your development as a tech. If you aren't confident, call someone who is fundamentally sound and get a second opinion BEFORE you leave the site. Better yet, send them a text with all the readings, model and serials, conditions, photos, type of compressor, type of controls, type of metering device, and what you have done BEFORE you call them. Get the diagnosis right the first time.

4. Remember the Airflow and Keep it Wholly

So much of HVAC/R system operation has to do with evaporator load, with LOW load being most commonly caused by LOW AIRFLOW, and low airflow being most commonly caused by dirt buildup. Keep blowers, fans, filters and coils clean and unobstructed. Check static pressure when duct issues are suspected in order to verify and properly setup blower CFM output to match the requirements of the space and outdoor environment.

5. Honor Thy Trainers and Mentors

New techs will often learn a few facts and cling to them as though they are the end all and be all of system diagnosis. I have met techs who get over-focused on everything from suction pressure (most common), to superheat, subcool, static pressure, delta T, and amp draw. A good tech continues learning from older and wiser techs and trainers who see the whole picture. When you are new, it's hard to remember all of the factors that go into system diagnosis and performance. More experienced techs who have kept up on their learning develop a “6th sense” that can rub off on you if you “Stay Humble” (to quote the great philosopher Kendrick Lamar). Listen more than you talk, and learn the full range of diagnostic and mechanical skills.

6. Thou Shalt Not Murder The System by Failing to Clean

A good technician learns the importance of keeping a system clean early on and never forgets it. Condenser coils, base pans, drain pans, drains, evaporators, blower wheels, filters, return grilles, secondary heat exchangers and on and on… A system that is set up properly initially and cleaned regularly will last much longer, cool or heat better, and use less energy. In my experience, techs that don't believe in maintenance don't perform a proper maintenance themselves. Use your eyes, and clean what's dirty.

7. Thou Shalt Not Commit Purgery without Vacuumy

Proper evacuation is one of the most overlooked disciplines of the trade. Jim Bergmann says again and again, a proper vacuum is performed with large diameter hoses connected to core removal tools. The cores are removed from the ports, the hoses have no core depressors, the hoses are connected directly to the pump (not through gauges). The vacuum (micron) gauge is connected on the side port of the core removal tool, not at the pump. The pump has clean vacuum pump oil and the pump is run until the system is pulled below 500 microns (exact depth depends on the system). The core tools are then valved off and the “decay” is monitored to ensure that the system is clean and tight.

Purging with dry nitrogen prior to deep vacuum helps with the speed of evacuation, and installing line driers assists in keeping the system clean and dry, but neither are a substitute for a proper deep vacuum and decay test.

8. Thou Shalt Not Steal (from the customer)

Good techs provide solutions for their customers to get a broken system working, as well as other repairs or upgrades that result in optimum performance. Most techs don't INTEND to lie to a customer, but their lack of understanding on the products they are OFFERING, along with strong incentives to OFFER these upgrades can result in dishonest practices. A good, profitable technician has a deep understanding of all the repairs and upgrades they perform, as well as a sense of empathy for the customer.

9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Other Technicians

This all comes down to a witch's brew of ego and insecurity all mixed together. You have either done this yourself, or you know of someone who has gone to a customer's home or business and thrown the previous technician or company under the bus in front of the customer. In some cases it may be nothing but bravado, and in other cases it may have a measure of truth in it (or may be undisputed). Either way, talking negatively about other techs and companies does nothing but make you look petty and angry. Demonstrate your skill and knowledge by discussing the courses of action you intend to take, and if required, you can COMPARE these actions to previous actions taken; just stay away from personal attacks. Let the customer be the judge about the last guy.

10. Thou Shalt not Covet Thy Neighbor's Job

Many good techs start to do poor quality work when they get burned out… and buddy let me tell you- I HAVE BEEN THERE. It is important to remember that every job from maintenance tech to business owner has good things and bad things about it. There are good days and bad days, great customers and total jerks, 16 hr days and 8 hr days. You may hit a spot where you decide to change jobs, and that is totally fine and may be a great decision. Just don't make a rash decision because the grass looks a little greener. ALWAYS do quality work no matter where you work, or how bad it gets. Doing poor quality work because your job is getting you down is like a cancer that will grow and do harm to you and your career.

Take pride in your work, keep your eyes and ears open, learn something new every day and the HVAC/R gods will smile warmly upon you.

What commands would you add or remove?

— Bryan



Unapologetically a Technician

For years I've worked with and around people who view work, problems and goals differently than I do. I've often told my wife that I have an issue managing and leading administrators, salespeople and other inside staff because I just don't communicate in a way they seem to like.

It's been 20 years in the trade now and almost 15 in business before I've come to a conclusion.

I prefer working with technicians

Before you call all the dispatchers, accountants and warehouse staff together with pitchforks and Molotov cocktails… hear me out

What is a Technician? 

We aren't going to reach for a dictionary to define what a technician is, we are going with the “Potter Stewart” method of “I know it when I see it” and I'm sure you do as well.

Now, there are many people with the title of “technician” on their LinkedIn account that don't meet my smell test and there are many more who would never consider that title who are hard core technician in my book.

A Technician Wants to Understand

There is a big difference between knowing what to do and understanding. I was standing in line at the local fast food joint the other day and I was noticing all the teenagers moving around behind the counter, looking up at monitors,, hitting buttons, filling drinks and wrapping burgers.

They all knew what to do to get me my food at Mickey D's but put them in front of some raw ingredients in a home kitchen and do they UNDERSTAND cooking? No, of course they don't.

If you handed them a hot-dog and they had never made one before they would look at you, blink and then ask some version of “how do I cook this?”. They will keep standing there until someone gives the answer and in their mind that is how cooking food works. Someone tells you what to do and then you do it the way you are told, this is how you cook and this is how having a job works in their world.

For the technicians out there, is that how you learned? is that how you solve problems? The idea that we would wait until someone tells us how to do everything before we do it is laughable. Technicians found how the why and how of how things work in order make sense of solving problems, even problems they have never encountered before.

This doesn't mean a technician has all the answers, there are far too many questions for anyone to have all the answers, a technician just works on a problem until they understand the factors involved and can make a diagnosis and repair even if it's imperfect.

Technicians Take Their Work Seriously 

A true technician may be light hearted or severe, introverted or extroverted but they all take their work very seriously. When they put their name on something it means something and they never want it to be said of them that they were careless, lazy or sloppy in their work. In a technicians mind their work is nobody else's responsibility and they want to get it right the first time.

A Technician Doesn't Need to be Affirmed Continuously 

I've noticed this new phenomenon where workers expect not only to be recognized for their achievements above and beyond the usual but to get verbal affirmation just for the regular execution of their job. It's as if  every job task completed without a serious mistake is a huge accomplishment and requires commentary.

Technicians get satisfaction from a job well done, they pursue excellence for excellence own sake, not for the accolades of others ESPECIALLY when it's given because its expected.

A Technician Goes Home When the Days Work is Done 

Technicians don't go home until their work is done. That doesn't mean that they always work crazy hours but it does mean that they don't start something that they aren't going to see through to completion, even if that means handing it off to someone else.

I've had numerous interactions with staff who were getting behind in their core tasks because they “just don't have enough time”. A technician doesn't get behind for long because that just isn't an option for them. There is another job to do and the only way to keep from drowning is to get better and more efficient at their work. If a technician is given far more than they can do then they talk to the dispatcher or manager to get help BEFORE they get stuck because just leaving it undone is off the table.

Technicians Fix Problems

Oh no! you have a problem that's hard to figure out?

Technicians LIVE for the hard problems, the challenges they've never faced before, the once in lifetime issue.


Because to a technician work isn't about showing up, doing the least possible work, staying comfortable and heading home a few minutes early if they can get away with it. Work is about fixing real problems, hard problems. Leaving everything you work on working better than when you started. Finding those hidden problems that everyone else missed and bringing harmony to discord.

To a technician every problem has a solution and if you aren't working on the solution then WHY ARE YOU EVEN TALKING RIGHT NOW?

Technicians HATE Having Their Time Wasted

Standing around and shooting the breeze is OK every once and a while but to a technician it gets old real quick. A technician understands that the real work that pays the bills doesn't get done by talking around the water cooler and the longer you put it off the tougher the day is going to be.

Technicians do not practice wasteful, non-sense processes without speaking up, even if it was their bosses idea or pet project. If a technician finds they are working at a place that wastes their time on useless reports that nobody ever looks at or double entry data procedures that has them writing more than they are working they will usually move on pretty quick.

Don't ask a technician to train a slacker or suffer a fool in their work space, a technician would fire their own grandma if they slow them down and cause issues.

Technicians Don't Need Emotional Support to Do Their Job 

I've overheard people say that they “don't feel supported” in their jobs on more occasion than once. If that means you aren't being given the time and tools to deliver on what the company is requiring or promising than I guess I understand that. If it means you need someone to call and talk you through problems every-time you feel frustrated or that you need to talk to someone whenever a customer gets cranky then the technician in me says

Buck up Buttercup. It isn't supposed to be easy and you won't always “feel good” about every job or interaction.

A technician is an adult who doesn't need someone to make them feel good about life in order to get the job done. So much of what people call “communication” is just empty talk designed to make people feel “heard” and that they could “Speak their piece”.

This doesn't mean you need to be rude or nasty but what is with all this talking and meetings and talking about meetings!!

You know what makes a technician feel better? GETTING WORK DONE

Technicians Hate Failing But Accept That It's Part of Growing 

There are two common workplace responses to mistakes and failures when they come to light. The most common is to make excuses and place blame, the technician figures out what went wrong and learns ways to prevent it in the future to the extent it is preventable.

It always cracks me up when something breaks and the customer acts totally stunned and says something like “That shouldn't happen! This system is only _____ years old”as if someone must account for this horrible injustice.

Yes and war and sickness, crime and decay ALSO shouldn't happen but they do every day, technicians realize this and embrace it as part of their calling to set things right rather than wallowing in blame and excuses.

Technicians Don't Ask Social Questions

If a technician is really stuck and need some expert advice then they MAY call another technician but only after they have read everything they can on the problem they are facing and took a solid shot at Google or any other online resources they have. They don't call other technicians just because it's “easier to call” and “I just wanted to talk”. If you want to talk to another tech when you are both on the way home to catch up on the events of the day then OK (we used to do this all the time in the days of radio dispatch), but technical questions are for specific technical answers not for chit chat.

My Epiphany

I realized that I am not going to stop preferring technicians.

So rather than trying to change that about myself, I'm going to work to fill my business with people who have a technicians mindset even if their job title isn't one of a technician. The best dispatchers, receptionists, permit techs, parts counter staff, warehouse managers and installers I have known still have this “technician” mindset even though they may never work on a piece of HVAC equipment.

From now on I'm looking for dispatch technicians, sales technicians and warehouse sweeper technicians (you get the point). Sure a successful workplace takes all types of personalities and skill sets and if you are coming to work to get stuff done and broken stuff fixed then WELCOME. If you want a support group or new friends then may I suggest the Kiwanis club or Elks Lodge (that's a thing right?).

— Bryan

Finishing Trade School? Some Things you Need to Know

So I hear you're just finishing trade school? Well done.

You chose to take an excellent path and now your journey is just beginning.

How this will go is really up to you and that's a good thing! You aren't going to be forced in one direction or another, you get to choose.

Let's talk about what choices you will make and what you need to know to end up where you want to go (unintentional rhyme there).

Choosing an Industry Segment

Many of you may end up working in a particular segment because you were recruited into it, or you know someone, or it was the first place that offers you a job. There is nothing wrong with that, but I would first consider all of your options.

Stationary vs. Field 

There are some jobs where you work as a stationary mechanic or tech on a single, or group of facilities, generally as a direct employee of the facility. In other jobs, you will work for an independent contractor on many different locations and for various customers.

Stationary jobs tend to be well suited for people who enjoy routine, a slower pace and less variability. Often the benefits (Vacation, health, retirement) in stationary jobs can be very good though the competitiveness of the pay may vary.

Field jobs have more risk and variability and are generally best suited for people who are always looking for a challenge and prefer not to have a set routine day in and day out.

Install vs. Service – Install or projects work tends to be more physically taxing but generally has a more fixed work schedule. Good install and project mechanics need to have a combination of productivity and efficiency as well as a strong mechanical sense and attention to aesthetic detail (how things look). Install mechanics must be able to read plans and specs but usually don't need to learn as much from reading as service.

Service has a lot more scheduling variability and often work long hours in peak seasons. Service requires strong problem-solving skills, communication and an ability to think well under pressure. The best service techs can learn from many different sources including reading.

Residential vs. Commercial – In residential you will generally be able to stay busy in or near your own hometown.  You must be able to talk with people and handle tense situations and be willing to quote repairs and have money conversations with customers. In general, residential requires less travel and isn't as technically difficult as commercial but can be more socially stressful.

Commercial work does not generally require nearly as much customer interaction but will often require more climbing, lifting, and travel. On the projects side, commercial work will often require periodic night work.

Specialty Segments 

HVAC/R has many specialty segments like chillers, controls (EMS, BAS), VRF, Market refrigeration, ammonia and many more. Specialty segments may be more challenging to get into right out of school but often have excellent long term opportunity for pay and advancement. One of the best ways to learn if an industry segment may be right for you is to strike up a conversation with a tech or owner in that segment on one of the forums or social media groups like HVAC school.

Initial Pay vs. Ultimate Opportunity

You will be tempted to choose a job based on which one pays you the most right out of school. For some of you, the need to make as much as you can right away is critical and I understand that.

But that isn't how I would make the decision.

I would suggest looking into segments and companies where the pay after 5 years is the best rather than only considering what they pay out of school. The best way to find this info is to talk to people who have actually done it rather than trusting what a company says about themselves.

I know you may think you already HAVE an education, but your education is really only starting. Find a company that will continue to invest in training you rather than one that throws you to the wolves right out of school.

Don't get the wrong idea…

There isn't a job or career path out there that will work out exactly like you planned. The planning isn't so you will check every box, it's so you will get started out in the best direction. There will be many course corrections in your journey and you will learn a lot about yourself as you go.

Character is Key

Before we cover what you do to get where you want to go we need to discuss who you ARE.

You are a combination of your genetics inherited from your parents, the things that have happened to you and the choices you've made along the way. When questions of character come up you will be tempted to blame your genes (I'm just not a good reader) or your circumstances (I don't have time to study), I beg you DON'T DO IT.

Every human that has ever lived is born with advantages and challenges and everyone has the choice to allow these external forces to define their existence or to choose to own what they become.

Whether life happens to you (victim mentality) or whether you happen to life (ownership) depends on you

Character means making a set of choices based on rules that you set for yourself of proper conduct. Here are some great character rules.

  1. Keep your word, especially when doing so requires sacrifice
  2. Treat everyone with respect whether they deserve it or not
  3. Spend time with people that make you better
  4. Listen more than you speak
  5. Practice gratefulness daily
  6. Work hard even when you think it doesn't matter
  7. Do the right thing even when nobody will ever know
  8. Replace negativity with solutions
  9. Don't complain… ever
  10. Make decisions you will be proud of 20 years from now

Sorry for writing a little self-help novel here… but character really matters.

You need to decide what sort of person you are or your circumstances will decide for you.

What Not to Do

If you are under the age of 25 I want to state once again how glad I am that you chose this business and I really think you made a great choice.

But please, recognize that some of the things culture and social interaction with your peers have taught you will wreak havoc on your career in this trade.

So please, for your own sake don't –

  • Keep looking at your phone (seriously, don't look at it…)
  • Come into work looking all sleepy and disengaged
  • Show up late
  • Make snarky remarks to more experienced workers (or anything that could be misinterpreted that way)
  • Tell experienced guys how you “did it in school”
  • Stand Around (Find a broom, organize something somewhere or read something directly related to your job)
  • Fall asleep at work (even in the van)
  • Tell people about personal stuff you don't want everyone to know

This applies to workers of all ages of course, but these traits tend to be really common in younger workers.

What to Do Instead

Getting ahead is actually pretty simple (but not easy). You need to

Learn continuously, communicate positively and do good work consistently

Here are my top recommendations for actions you can take right out of school

  1.  Put aside money from every check for tools. Buy your own tools even if the company provides them. This is about investing in yourself, not about the company you work for right now.
  2. Remember things the older techs tell you. Thank them later on for specifically what they taught you and how it helped.
  3. Read Manuals. If you work on something new read the manual beforehand if you can. At a minimum, do it later on at home if you didn't have time during the day. I don't care if you are a “hands-on” learner thats not an excuse not to read. This is why I suggest doing just before or after you worked on it. You can't get really good if you never read so start making it a habit.
  4. Show up to Work Early. On time is late, set your clocks 10 minutes forward if you need to.
  5. Share Facts from Others. If you find that someone more experienced is doing something incorrectly, share something you read in a manual or article and ask their thoughts on it rather than “confronting” them.
  6. Use Your Resources. Do some research and study before asking a question. There is still a time to ask, but it's once you've already put in some work.

The Rule of Bob 

“If Bob has a problem with everyone, Bob is the problem”

I get contacted all the time by people fresh out of school who express that everyone in the trade is out to get them. They ALL do it wrong, they are ALL jerks, EVERYONE abuses and mistreats them.

There are really only two options when someone has these sorts of complaints

  1. They work for the worst company ever
  2. They don't know how to overcome challenges

Sure, there are a lot of grouchy, sad, negative people in our trade. That's true in EVERY job, tradespeople just tend to express it with a few more expletives than some other more “refined” professions. You've really got to learn to deal with negative people while finding ways to spend more time with positive and helpful people. Sometimes that means finding a different company and sometimes it means using it as an opportunity to build some resilience within yourself.

Some companies and bosses are bad… You won't change them. If you work at a place that doesn't match your character don't complain, find a better fit.

Remember, this is all about you choosing a path that will take you where YOU want to go. Everything else is just circumstances and you will decide whether they make you better or bitter.

In the words of Forest Gump…

“That's all I've got to say about that”

— Bryan



Are You a “Tom Brady” Tech?

I ‘m writing this a few hours before the “big game” in 2018, so I don't know the outcome of the Patriots vs. Eagles nor does it matter for the sake of this article.

I've been pulling against the Patriots and Tom Brady ever since he supplanted Drew Bledsoe as the quarterback in 2001 as the young gun replacing the older pro.

I dislike Tom Brady in the same way and for the same reason that many football fans don't like him, he is infuriatingly good!

I can make up reasons to dislike Brady, like inflate-gate or the practice filming scandal. The real reason for me is that I like an underdog story , and Tom Brady and the Patriots are the Alpha wolf of the league and I'm just plain sick of them winning.

As much as it pains me to do so, I must admit that Brady is likely the best QB of all time and he has a lot of traits that we can learn from in our field of expertise.

Have a Long-Term Vision

Many don't know that Tom Brady grew up in California and was a big 49ers fan (just like me, the 49ers part not the California part). In college, he chose Michigan because he felt it was the best long-term opportunity for him to become a top-level quarterback even if he had to play as a backup to Brian Griese for two seasons. During his time as a backup Brady experienced a lot a doubt and even considered seeking a transfer to Cal, in the end, he stayed at Michigan and had to fight for playing time all the way through his college career. Because of this he was never considered an elite college quarterback and was drafted with the 199th pick in the draft.

Many of us make decisions based on short-term goals and with temporary challenges top of mind. In order to be the best of the best, you need to make choices based on the long-term vision and choose opportunities not only for what it means tomorrow but what it can do for your entire career.  That co-worker who makes you angry or that other job that will pay you a dollar or two more may tempt you to make a change, but is it the right change for the long term?

Make decisions now that the version of you 10 years from now will look back and thank you for. Choices like spending time reading instead of watching TV, saving instead of spending, making time for your family instead of going out and having a beer, and choosing a job based on how much you will grow and the opportunities that lay ahead rather than just the paycheck.


Tom Brady isn't a stellar athlete when you compare him to most other guys in the NFL but what he does better than almost anyone is prepare for his opponent. He can look out at defense and tell instinctively what they are going to do and which safety he needs to move just a few feet by “looking him off” to get the ball to an open receiver.

That “instinct” doesn't come from natural skill, it comes from preparation, coaching, and attention to detail.

Jim Bergmann said it best when he told me:

Guys will come up and tell me that they have 20 years of experience and their way works just fine. I tell them “No, you have 1 year of experience, 20 times over”

Experience “playing the game” alone isn't enough to give you an edge. You need to –

  • Read and Study, stay up on the latest tools, techniques, and technology
  • Seek out good coaches, people who will challenge your thinking and get you to the next level of detail and precision
  • Look for vulnerabilities in your opponent (the equipment) and know them like the back of your hand

If there is one part or process on a piece of equipment you serve that you don't understand then stop and take the time to understand it before you move on.

Use Tools to Your Advantage

If your receivers catch the ball more easily with a few PSI less in there then, by all means, do what you need to do! In all seriousness, I think the Patriots inflated the balls to the minimum allowed in the warm locker room and when they went out on the cold field the pressure in the balls dropped below the allowable limits (Gas laws in action, but I digress).

Sometimes using new, fancy tools can feel like cheating but anything that increases accuracy like the Testo smart probes or saves time like the Pro-Fit is worth considering. Use any advantage you can get and high quality, well-maintained tools can make a huge difference in the hands of a good tech.

Seek Out Good Coaching

Do you think Tom Brady would be Tom Brady if he had been drafted by the Browns or the Bears? In our trade, you have a huge opportunity to find mentors online that you never had before. I find myself calling, emailing and texting my friends and mentors all the time with questions, some of them pretty stupid. If you really want to be exceptional you need to know people who can give you good advice and even set you straight when you need it. Do you think Bill Belichick is easy on Tom Brady? Do you think Tom Brady would be Tom Brady if he was? Find a few pros who aren't afraid of calling you out in order to make you better.

Enjoy Your Work

Tom Brady is a fierce competitor who doesn't want to retire even though he certainly doesn't need to keep playing. I would argue that our work is far more important to the world than football and it's also no less challenging or interesting. Choose to engage with your work and enjoy it, keep those competitive juices flowing by doing a better job every day than the day before.

Keep Your Eyes Downfield

Sure, you can run with the ball yourself, but as a quarterback, you are much more effective when you look to pass it off to others and give them a chance to shine. Those of us that try to do it all ourselves will just break our backs and like a quarterback who runs too much, likely end up with a concussion. Invest in the next generation of techs and pass the ball whenever you can to give them a chance to gain experience.

Don't Give Up

How many times have the Patriots come back in situations when we all wrote them off?

 It's almost like they know something the rest of us don't. I would argue that they do.

The Patriots know that none of them are going to throw in towel no matter how bad it gets. If they make a mistake they don't spend time arguing and pointing fingers they just move on, learn what there is to learn and start making touchdowns when it counts.

Most of us get beat down and fall into a rut after a while. Bad things happen, customers get upset, we make a misdiagnosis and we start to think that's just how it goes. The truth is, that is just how it goes, but that is no reason to adopt a losers attitude. You have a valuable skill in a trade with endless possibility, no matter what you've experienced you have an opportunity to learn from those experiences, come back and win the game.

Set goals, learn, grow and don't give up on your career. We are all on the same team and the team needs you.

— Bryan





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