This column will be a series of stories from a person just like most of you who will take the time to read this. I’m the kid who learned at an early age what sheetmetal ductwork was all about as my father was an old “tin knocker”. By seven years of age, I had my first scar from disrespecting the sheetmetal. My father had a “shop” in the basement of our home in Long Island, New York. One night as my father was fabricating some ductwork, I took the corner around his bench too closely. My right cheek found the sharp edge and with that my father picked me up, climbed the stairs (I believe two at a time), bandaged the cut in our bathroom and drove me to the hospital. I don’t really remember how many stitches it took but it was traumatic at the time for all parties. I bring up that story to let you know I have been doing this trade for a very long while.
My father’s business grew so the “shop” moved from our home to a few different locations around Long Island. With each new location came newer equipment and more volume. My older brother worked very closely with my father and I worked as needed or requested. I remember many cold mornings going to jobsites where the source of heat was a 55 gallon drum with some “fluid” which was lit and made an “open” fire. Hint, this was long before OSHA. This proved a good way to learn where to not to put your hands. Dad eventually sold his business and the family moved to Sarasota, Florida.
Dad was going to retire but my brother had other ideas and soon Climatic Conditioning was born. All of the family worked in the business (even my 2 sisters) and that business grew as well. Time moved on and eventually all three of us (Dad, Richard and myself) became licensed air conditioning contractors. Building the business as we did required all of us doing every task menial or otherwise. To this day I respect everyone’s efforts in getting a job to a successful outcome. I have dug ditches, swept the shop, crawled under mobile homes, crawled in brutally hot Florida attics, hired people, fired people, estimated jobs (some of them actually made money), paid bills and in now what seems like a short time sold our business again. Life circles are funny. Now, looking back I would like to share with you some memories, some predictions and I hope some humor.
Thanks for taking time to read this. See you next time…as I see it!
Paul Stehle cut his teeth in the HVAC industry at an early age, helping his father operate a sheet metal shop out of the family’s basement in Long Island, NY. He joined his father and older brother when they opened Climatic Conditioning, Inc. in Sarasota, FL in 1972. They all earned ac contractor’s licenses and built the business successfully, at one point employing 65 people. Paul and his brother recently sold the business and retired.
Paul has served on local and statewide air conditioning contractor associations and has consistently been among the first to defend the industry when it has been threatened and been an advocate for unity, apprenticeships, professionalism and fairness. He has supported other trade associations as well, most notably the Gulf Coast Builder’s Exchange. Though “retired”, Paul continues to be involved in the HVACR industry and his community. Stay tuned for more literary contributions.
Contact Paul by emailing [email protected]. Yes, aol!