Area HVAC contractors see industry grow while worker shortage persists

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 11:57 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Work on your home heating and cooling systems could cost you more in the years ahead.

A lack of interest from younger generations, veterans in the field retiring, and applicants not having much experience are a few of the things concerning HVAC contractors like Cool Breeze in Sparks, as they try to keep up with demand.

“We are growing,” said president Joe Brown. “Reno is just going crazy so as that comes in, everybody needs heating, air conditioning.”

He says the labor shortage already existed in the industry but was amplified by the pandemic.

“We would put an ad out, maybe in a week or two weeks, we’ll get one or two applicants only,” said Brown. “In the past we would get 15 a day.”

To deal with this ongoing issue, the company is trying to look beyond a dollar sign.

“Obviously we have the 401k, all your benefits and whatnot, but we’re trying to not just throw dollars and money at them (employees),” said Brown. “It is what we can do to offer them an enjoyable place to work.”

Sierra Air in Reno has seen a similar trend. Sales team leader Jason Dowding said the combat strategy has been education.

“We’ve decided to train our own people, we’ve hired people with no experience and we’re actually sending them to school and having them train with our company,” he said. “That way, they come out with knowledge and know how to do maintenance and the basics.”

He adds that although the cost of teaching these folks has not been passed down to customers, wage increases and other supply expenses have.

“When our hard costs rise or, gas goes up a $1.50 to $2 from where it was last year and we have a fleet of 60 vehicles, we have to compensate for those costs,” said Downing. “We try to be as fair as possible with the customer, but we have to keep the doors open.”

Both men agree that there needs to be more awareness about the possibility of having a viable, lucrative career in the trades.

For installs, both companies are looking at a week or two wait time. However, maintenance can be done more quickly.

Downing believes the shortage will continue for years to come but thinks as long as the pipeline is full, they should be able to keep up with demand.

Sierra Air’s training is free for new hires and lasts 16 weeks. To find out more contact (775) 356-5566. Cool Breeze also offers training. Contact the company at (775) 971-1822 or email cboffice@coolbreezenv.com.

According to Brown, a rise in equipment costs is expected at the beginning of next year. The recommendation is not to panic, but plan that HVAC work sooner rather than later.