Branding Tip#33 from Greg McAfee, HVAC Business Consultant

Brand Your Company

Coca Cola™ was just named the number one most valuable global brand of 2012 by brand consultancy firm, “Interbrand”. It’s really no surprise as the renowned soda distributor spends more than $2.6 billion annually on advertising and has millions of fans spanning the globe.

Now you are probably thinking, “They should be #1 since they spend that much”, right? However, $2.6 billion was about 6% of their total revenue for 2011.

What percentage of your revenue are you spending to brand your company?

Carry On!


Greg McAfee
HVAC Business Consultant

Jackson Systems Celebrates Employee Tenure

We would like to give a big thank you and celebrate some of our employees for their hard work and dedication. Celebrating 5 years with Jackson Systems: Ryan Feyerabend, Mike Holscher, Jake Stilabower and TJ Terrell. Celebrating 10 years with Jackson Systems: Doug Engel and Joe Jackson. Thank you all for helping the company grow and for your commitment to excellence everyday!

Service Leaders Make a Difference by Steve Coscia

It happened slowly. The service, which used to be terrific, was showing signs of degradation.

For me, it’s the little things that count. It’s a welcome smile, an invitation to be seated, a quick request for my beverage order and frequent visits to my table just to make sure everything was OK. The restaurant owner, who was almost always present in the past, had been absent during my last few visits.

She was a lovely woman with a pleasant disposition and boundless energy. Her entire demeanor just exuded and attitude of “welcome to my place.” It was as though “her place” was her house and she meant to show off just how comfortable and relaxed you could become by just being there. I’d say she held the bar high and encouraged those around her to stretch their capabilities and step outside their comfort zones so that visitors to her place would feel welcome, relaxed and well-served. She demonstrated her role as a leader and in any service industry good leadership is essential. Read more at

New App Allows Download of 400+ Thermostat Manuals on Smart Devices

The RTFM Thermostats app features access to over 400+ name brand thermostat manuals to be accessed and shared. Manuals can be searched by brand name and model number. The selected manuals are automatically saved to your mobile device after download. You have the ability to request IOMs that will email to you, as well as the ability to forward manuals via email to your customers, technicians or office team at the touch of a button. The app is available for Androids and iPhones. For a limited time, you can get the app (a $3.99 value) for just $.99. The free version of the app allows you to test it prior to purchasing. This version has limited access to manuals and part numbers. Go to Google Play or The App Store to download your copy today! Search for RTFM Thermostats.

The ecobee EMS Beta App is now available for BlackBerry OS7 touch screen devices.

The new EMS App was developed in partnership with you, our commercial customers who range from HVAC contractors and distributors, to facility managers and business owners. The EMS App was created to provide you with a simple and easy way to monitor and control all of your EMS and EMS Si thermostats while on the go.

With the ecobee EMS App, you can be more responsive to your tenants, employees and customers, address problems quickly, decrease the number of expensive on-site service calls and increase your overall efficiency.

Some exciting features of the EMS App we think you will enjoy include:

Watch List – you can create a custom watch list of thermostats to quickly keep tabs on priority spaces and locations with repeat issues.

Alerts List – conveniently summarizes all current issues and maintenance actions, allowing you to address problems immediately.

Access On the Go – you will gain remote visibility into each of your ecobee EMS/EMS Si thermostats and have the ability to make simple adjustments.

No Excuses! Presented by Greg McAfee, HVAC Business Consultant

It’s the month of Christmas, and I title my newsletter “no excuses”? You would think I’d come up with something a little happier, cheerful or merrier, right?

Well, a couple weeks back, I met a guy by the name of Kyle Maynard for the first time live. I had hired Kyle to come in and speak to my son’s (Travis) high school, along with Travis’s team at the football banquet later that evening. During both of Kyle’s talks, you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. The Principal even said “I’ve never heard the juniors and seniors more quiet than this!” Kyle Maynard was born with arms that end at his elbows and legs that end near his knees – yet he has already accomplished more than most people will in an entire lifetime. Why? Because he gave up on making excuses, and started living the life he was intended to live.

I’ll wrap up this last 2012 newsletter with this video clip of Kyle Maynard. I hope he challenges you, and inspires you to live the life you are intended to live!

May you, your family and your business have a Merry Christmas!

Visit Greg’s Web site at to see how he can help your business become more efficient and profitable.

Utility Rebates for Programmable Thermostats

Your local utility company may offer rebate programs to save your customers money when replacing old or installing new appliances. What does that mean for the contractor? An easy selling point! Why not use this information to your advantage by explaining to your customer they can save even more by installing a qualified product.

The rebate programs are available for residential and commercial customers. Go to to check what rebates are available in your area.


An Important Safety Reminder

Carbon monoxide, smoke and fire alarms make healthier, safer indoor environments and save lives. Do you know the guidelines in your state? Educate yourself and your business partners!


Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. It is a leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when burning any fuel: gasoline, propane, kerosene, natural gas, oil, wood and coal. When CO is inhaled it can lead to difficulty breathing, impaired judgment and memory, damage to the nervous system, cardiac trauma, brain damage, coma and even death. It can kill in hours or minutes depending on the level in the air.


Safety Tips:

  • - Install CO alarms in central locations to provide an early warning of CO accumulation.
  • - Test CO alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • - Schedule annual inspections of fuel-burning household heating equipment.
  • - Never use your oven to heat your home, crack a window when using kerosene heaters and only use barbecue grills outside.
  • - Remove a vehicle from the garage immediately after starting it.


State Carbon Monoxide Code


Fire is the cause of thousands of deaths each year. Smoke and gases typically spread farther and faster than heat so most fire victims die from smoke and toxic gas inhalation – not as a result of burns. Ionization detectors respond quicker to fast flaming fires and photoelectric detectors respond quicker to slow smoldering fires but fires are never predictable so both types should be installed for quick detection. Smoke and fire alarms can be interconnected to improve audibility during a fire. Alarms can be hard wired, battery powered or both.


Safety Tips:

  • - Install smoke and fire alarms in and outside each bedroom and on each level of a building.
  •  - Test smoke and fire alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.
  • - Schedule annual inspections of heating, cooling, and water appliances.
  • - Do not leave candles burning, use appliances with damaged cords and always be attentive while cooking.
  • - Never place portable heaters too close to combustible items or leave them unattended.


State Fire Marshal Standards


* Know the difference between the sound of CO alarms and the sound of smoke alarms.

* Have an evacuation plan to ensure all residents get out safely if an alarm sounds.

* Install air safety alarms to protect living spaces and prevents fatalities.

Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2012

The Best Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2012

Imagine the situation; a family is going about their usual routine and getting ready to turn in for the night when they hear an alarm so loud it could wake the dead. Only it isn’t their smoke alarm going off, it’s their carbon monoxide detector reacting to a leaky furnace – a leaky furnace that is emitting an odorless, deadly gas. Thank goodness their HVAC service person suggested installing the detector last month during a routine service call. Imagine the outcome if he hadn’t thought to mention it. His simple suggestion saved an entire family from a silent killer, and now he will forever be a hero in this family’s eyes.


Carbon monoxide is one of the most common household threats, and many states have laws that require certain residential buildings to have working carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors offer an up sell opportunity (and a chance to save lives) for every routine service call.  Homeowners will likely welcome the ability to mitigate the risk of losing a loved one.


This silent killer gas is emitted from any appliance that burns natural gas such as gas stoves, heaters or improperly vented fireplaces to name just a few. Without such a life saving device people will have to rely on noticing symptoms such as feeling of lethargy, nausea, sudden tiredness, dizziness or headaches. However, if you are asleep in your bed when this silent killer comes around you will never wake up.


When you go into a home ask or check to see if they have a carbon monoxide detector that is working and up to date. It is a good idea to have one near the bedrooms and another in close proximity to the furnace. Make sure to install them so they are mounted towards the floor because carbon monoxide is heavier than air so it settles around the floor.


Air Products and Control came out with three new carbon monoxide detectors in 2012 that offer some very useful innovations. The latest addition to their line of contractor-friendly life safety devices includes UL Listed Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms. They are tailored for indoor residential applications, backed by APC’s 5-year warranty, these professional-grade alarms are a convenient, high quality alternative to what they’re offering at the Big Box store.


These detectors come with optochemical sensor technology which provides resistance to nuisance alarms, extends the sensor life and has a failsafe notification. If, for example, you have a low battery, it has a low audible sound that tells you your batteries need replaced.


These models also come with an alarm that will alert a homeowner when the CO detector needs to be replaced. Many people are unaware that an actual sensor has a limited life of about six years. This feature will let homeowners rest assured that they will know when their sensor is no longer working.


Air Products and Controls 2012 models



Works with a nine volt battery and is a great option for existing structures since there is no expensive wiring required.



This model also works with a nine volt battery, but is different because it is a combination CO and smoke detector.



Works with a 120 volt battery and hard wired combination and is a combination CO and smoke detector. This model is the best option for new construction and can be wired in accordance with building codes to accommodate the rising legislation requiring all new construction to have wired CO detectors for homes with fossil fuel heat sources. The battery operation is included to work as a backup in case of a power outage.


ACCA Disaster Relief Fund Aids New Jersey & New York ACCA Members

Information provided by Bobby Ring (President/CEO of Meyer & Depew)


As you know, Hurricane Sandy slammed New Jersey and New York late last month. Last week I traveled to meet with several contractor members in areas of New Jersey and New York that were devastated. Several of the employees of these members LOST EVERYTHING – their homes were destroyed and all of their possessions were lost. Members also reported having storm surge in their shops and offices from 4 feet to more than 8 feet. Computer systems, plasma cutters and inventory were all destroyed. Initial FEMA estimates show that more than 72,000 businesses and homes were battered by the storm in New Jersey alone.


The purpose of my visit to these contractors last week was to distribute financial assistance from the ACCA Disaster Relief Fund. This fund was established following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and it depends upon folks like you to help keep it going.


If you had a great year and were spared the wrath of a natural disaster (we had a hurricane, minor eartth quake and a Nor’easter 12″ snow storm all within 10 days in NJ/NY) then I’ll hope you’ll consider making a non-tax deductible donation to ACCA’s Disaster Relief Fund so ACCA can continue to provide assistance to ACCA members and their employees.
Follow the link below to make your contribution today. THANK YOU.


Donate Now!


By making a non-tax deductible donation to ACCA’s Disaster Relief Fund, you are helping ACCA provide assistance to ACCA member contractors who have been significantly impacted by natural disasters.


Jackson Systems is proud to be an ACCA Corporate Partner. Thank you to ACCA for their efforts to help. At Jackson Systems, giving back to others is a huge part of who we are. So we ask you to join us and encourage everyone to help make a difference.


The ecobee EMS Beta App is now available to download for free in iTunes

The new EMS App was developed in partnership with you, our commercial customers who range from HVAC contractors and distributors, to facility managers and business owners. The EMS App was created to provide you with a simple and easy way to monitor and control all of your EMS and EMS Si thermostats while on the go.
With the ecobee EMS App, you can be more responsive to your tenants, employees and customers, address problems quickly, decrease the number of expensive on-site service calls and increase your overall efficiency.


Some exciting features of the EMS App we think you will enjoy include:


Watch List – you can create a custom watch list of thermostats to quickly keep tabs on priority spaces and locations with repeat issues.

Alerts List – conveniently summarizes all current issues and maintenance actions, allowing you to address problems immediately.
Access On the Go – you will gain remote visibility into each of your ecobee EMS/EMS Si thermostats and have the ability to make simple adjustments.
Click here to download the App!

best zoning manufacturer

The Best Zoning Manufacturers

We are strong believers that what is good for one business is good for the HVAC industry as a whole, even when it comes to the competition. Never ones to shy away from being blatantly honest when it comes to competition, we decided to compile a list of the best zone control manufacturers that we are proud to call industry colleagues.


Arzel Zoning 


Arzel Zoning really invented retrofit zoning, which enabled existing homes the ability to add zoning to their existing HVAC system. They use air to power their dampers instead of electricity. We applaud them for their innovative culture and for always coming up with new products. Their President, Dennis Laughlin, is a good man who is very active in the industry.  They are strong believers in “a rising tide raises all ships” – in other words, if we can make more people aware of the benefits of zoning, then ALL the zoning manufacturers will prosper. We could not agree more.




Honeywell is the biggest HVAC supplier by far.  We admire them for their ability to maintain such a large share of the market, not to mention they make great products.  They are also aggressive with their marketing and have a huge sales force, including a dedicated staff to call on wholesalers, and another to call on contractors.  There is no doubt they play a major role in the direction of the HVAC industry.




EWC has been around for over 50 years, and are known for being one of the pioneers of zoning.  They manufacture good products that are made in the USA, which may be part of the reason why their clients are some of the most loyal in the industry.



This list represents some of the best zoning manufacturers in the HVAC industry. If you are looking for solutions that Jackson Systems does not offer, you won’t go wrong with one of these three.



Happy Thanksgiving from Jackson Systems

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked our employees to reflect on the past year and share what they are thankful for. Here are some of their answers:


Kati L Clem, Marketing Coordinator 


“I am thankful for friends and family who love me, my pet cats: Lunetta and Starshine and a comfortable lifestyle. I’m thankful for my creativity and an education that has allowed me to contribute meaningfully and apply my skills to constantly changing purposes. I’m fortunate to have maintained independence through the past several very challenging years. Even though I am quiet natured I’m glad that my inner self is usually resilient enough to be peaceful despite the world’s negativity. I’m thankful that I have the motivation to be a constant learner so that life stays fresh and I can grow every day.”


Tom Jackson, CEO


“I am incredibly blessed.  I am most thankful for God, my family and my country.  And while I could expand on all three of these, I will just take a brief moment to mention our country.  Every day, I have to pause and remember that it is our freedom here in the United States that allows each of us to pursue our dreams and goals.  America allows us to be who we want to be.  I am thankful that our forefathers had wisdom and foresight, and I am thankful for all those who have, and are currently, defending her.


I am also thankful that my 13 year old yellow Labrador retriever “Terra” still wags her tail at me.  She has a hard time getting up and walking but still seems as happy as a puppy!”


Mike Lee, Account Manager


“I am thankful for our clients.  It is truly amazing to work with such great clients and assist them by providing our amazing HVAC controls products. I am thankful for the Jackson family; they have created an exceptional place to work and a great atmosphere.  I truly look forward to work every day!”


Kurt Wessling, Director of Sales


“As I ponder Thanksgiving’s approach, I am reminded of all that I am thankful for.  I am most thankful for what I call my “daily blessings.” Some of my daily blessings are: another day to try my best, my family and friends to love and be loved by, my 125 pound Mastiff’s tail wagging as I awake, my cat’s meow, a great place to work, great people to work with, wonderful clients to help serve, sports to watch, books to read, workouts to complete – and of course, the good health to enjoy them all!   Daily blessings come in many forms – sometimes a stranger’s smile or your own to make them pause, 12 oz. cold bottles work some days but so does a child’s laughter… Turkey dinners or a favorite fast food snack…


Whatever your daily blessings are- remember this -  there is always someone in this world who has it worse and would gladly trade places with you.  Be thankful for what you have and for what you are working towards – including the journey!  Remember to smile - it’s contagious!”


The Joseph Groh Foundation

Meet Matthew Blaylock, the latest grant recipient of the Joseph Groh foundation, an organization Jackson Systems supports each year.


Most of us take for granted the freedom of mobility that our motor vehicles provide us. For many who become disabled however, the one-two punch of loss of income coupled with the cost of specialized transportation is difficult to overcome.


Please take a minute to read Matt’s story and consider how great of a difference a community can make in one person’s life.


We hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.


Matt’s Story


After Matt graduated from high school in Leesville, South Carolina, he decided to pursue a career as an electrician. He became a licensed, bonded and insured residential electrician in the state of South Carolina, and has been working in that capacity for the past 13 years. As an electrician, Matt ran wiring for new homes and performed work in pre-existing homes. He completed electrical projects ranging from vacuum systems to alarm systems and home automation. He also was involved in building home theater systems from the ground up. On a hot summer day in 2011, Matt decided to join some friends for an afternoon on the water, having been on a job that morning. He was looking forward to relaxing and cooling off.


When Matt dove into the water, he hit his head on the bottom, breaking his neck at the C-4/C-5 vertebra.


As a result of the accident, Matt is now a quadriplegic. Like most newly paralyzed individuals, Matt had reoccurring issues that caused him to regularly seek medical attention. The accident however had devastated his finances and he had no independent way to get to these appointments. He had to either rent handicapped accessible vehicles or use an ambulance for more severe issues. Living in a rural community east of Columbia, South Carolina made that a difficult and expensive proposition. He needed a vehicle but finances stood in the way.


Matthew’s aunt lives in Frisco, Texas and as it happens, one of the members of her church is a friend of the foundation who introduced him to the Joseph Groh foundation. Handicapped accessible vehicles generally rank high on the list of needed items for newly disabled individuals, but they can also be very expensive. The demand for affordable and reliable transportation is high, so when a suitable vehicle is found action must be taken quickly.


Due to the generosity of supporters, the foundation was able to act quickly when Matt’s parents found the right van.


Following receipt of the vehicle Matt wrote, “My family and I cannot thank you enough for all your help. This was my most pressing need as I have had major difficulties getting to doctor appointments etc. Thank you so much for this van.”


The Joseph S. Groh Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support to employees, former employees, family members of employees and former employees of the construction trades industry (plumbing, HVAC, electrical, roofing etc.) who have suffered permanent spinal cord injuries or other permanent and life altering disabilities. This charitable organization will not engage in any non exempt activity.


For more information on the Joseph S. Groh Foundation, please visit


ACCA Fall Meetings Bring Contractors New Ideas, Fresh Approaches

ACCA, the nation’s largest organization of indoor environment and energy services contracting businesses, presented two back-to-back contractor events in Austin earlier this month: the first Building Performance Forum and the 5th Annual Service Managers Forum. Total attendance for the two events was the largest ever for ACCA’s fall meetings, with attendance up more than 45% over 2011.


New Building Performance Forum

The Building Performance Forum was held October 9 & 10. Contractors from across the country came to learn about the future of building performance and how to grow this particular service within their companies.


The event started with Nate Kredich of the US Green Building Council sharing how building performance has gained prominence on a world-wide stage and how it can change the way you do business. It wrapped up with a frank and humorous session with Doug Garrett of Building Performance & Comfort. He explained how the market is changing now and over the next 10 years, with growing customer demand for home performance services. In between, contractors chose from 12 different Learning Labs led by contractors and other experts, covering both introductory and advanced topics.


“The 2012 ACCA Building Performance Forum was very eye-opening,” said Mike Tucker, owner of Tuckers Air Conditioning & Heating in Gaithersburg, MD. “There was a lot of great information in a short time frame. I believe this is an important step for my company and will help me achieve my company and personal goals.”


“I really liked the way the event was structured with tracks for beginners and more experienced contractors,” added Keith Paton of Ivey Mechanical in Kosciusko, MS. “The presenters were so willing to share the good and the bad stories about their experience and it gave a lot of reassurance that contractors can succeed. It was great to see how to get down the road to be successful.”


Rob Minnick, of Minnick’s in Laurel, MD, said of the forum, “It brought together so many contractors that were willing to ask questions and pick my brain for ideas. The networking was awesome and I’m really looking forward to doing it again next year.”


The event also included a Sponsor Showcase that allowed attendees to learn about new and innovative solutions to challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. “The sponsor showcase was great for us,” said Chris Boaz of Aeroseal. “I had the opportunity to speak with most of the attendees and left with several enthusiastic prospects. I look forward to future opportunities.”


The Building Performance Forum sponsors were: Aeroseal; CallSource; Comfort Institute; ComfortRX;  Emerson; Everblue Training Institute; Federated Insurance; GreenHomes America; Honeywell; Jackson Systems; Mitsubishi; Thermostat Recycling ; Trane; and Ultra-Aire.


Stay tuned for details about the next Building Performance Forum


5th Annual Service Managers Forum

In its fifth year, the Service Managers Forum reached new levels of success, with the highest attendance in history. The day and half event brought contractors from 35 states together to learn and network on October 11 & 12.


The event kicked off with an upbeat and honest look at the different generations in the workplace with popular keynote speaker Bruce Wilkinson. He shared the traits of the different generations and how managers can get the most out of each employee by making small adjustments. There was also a special lunch session on October 11 where Bobby Ring of Meyer & Depew Co. in Kenilworth, NJ, talked about his experience working with NBC this summer on a “sting” operation that aired on the Today Show and Dateline. He showed the full clip from the Dateline airing and discussed with attendees how their companies can avoid being caught in similar situations, and also how they could use the broadcast in their own training programs.


12 Learning Labs covered a variety of leadership and management topics created especially for service leaders, from hiring the right people to motivating your employees, from creating consistent procedures to improving communications, and from maximizing the value of service agreements to implementing new technologies.


“The best part of the event is all the tried and true ideas people share with each other,” said Ken Marshall, service manager at Mark E. Meacham, Inc. in Charlton, MA. “This has been a great event to get me back into the business frame of mind.”


“I really had a good time and learned a lot from everyone I talked to,” said Robbey Moore, co-owner and vice president of Perkins Climate Control in Leesville, LA. “We are a small company and we like the information we get from this event.”


“This was my first Service Managers Forum and I didn’t know what to expect,” added Chase Rampey, service manager at Centex Mechanical, Inc. in Bastrop, TX. “I was recently promoted to service manager and have been wondering how I am going to adapt to my new roll, because it’s both exciting and terrifying. I had never considered asking for help from peers in the industry, but after attending the conference, I see that we are in this together as an industry. Finding people that are so willing to share information with each other helps dial down the ‘terrifying’ aspect of my new position. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I’ll see you guys at the next one.”


The Service Managers Forum also included a Sponsor Showcase where companies showcased products and services to help service managers increase productivity, improve workflow, and take advantage of new opportunities.


“I was very impressed with the open mindedness and support for technician training by ACCA members,” said Barney McClung of Everblue in Huntersville, NC. “I have always believed that the field technician is the key to great customer service and providing good quality training for the field tech demonstrates the commitment ACCA members have to their technicians and their customers.With the positive response we received at the event, we look forward to sponsoring more ACCA events.”


The Service Managers Forum sponsors were: 3M/Filtrete; AC Leak Freeze; Advanced Refrigerant Technologies; CallSource; Comfort Institute;; Data-Basics, Inc.; Davis Business Solutions Inc.; Emerson; Everblue Training Institute; Honeywell; Jackson Systems; Mitsubishi; Mobi; NATE; Nextraq; Service  Automation; Thermostat Recycling; and Trane.


Learn more about this year’s event and get details about the 6th Annual Service Managers Forum at


The ACCA is a non-profit association serving more than 60,000 professionals and 4,000 businesses in the HVACR community, who work together to promote professional contracting, energy efficiency, and healthy, comfortable indoor environments for all Americans. For more information, visit


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