Friday, August 30, 2013

It is getting close to Fall / Why adding Humidification to a room and/or a Building is Required ... or Not


Humidification or No Humidification, that is the question

ESD, these three simple letters of our alphabet are the sole reason for adding moisture, via a Humidifier are even in our lexicon.
Electro Static Discharge, this occurs when an electrical charge (Static Electricity) leaves one mass and Zapps another mass.  Typically it is when you walk across the room in the winter, then you grab the door knob and Bam!, you get that little zap.  Well, in a computing environment, that little Zap! can be deadly to the computing process.  The Zap can contain up to 10,000 volts or more, see:
Routinely humidifiers are part of the original design of a data processing facility, computer room, UPS room, etc... It makes sense.  Add moisture to a dry environment to keep the ESD at bay. Well, that works great but historically it can cost a lot of #OPEX dollars to keep the moisture at the desired 40% +/- 5%.  This cost was mainly due to the method that moisture was being induced into the air.  Either large open pans of water with a series of Infra-red bulbs hoovering over them or a cylinder/canister full of water with electrodes immersed in water were energized, then the steam was pulled into the air stream by the #CRAC or #CRAH unit for distribution, works great ... costs a lot to operate.
Many people simply choose not to operate their humidifiers because of the cost, this isn't a good option, just one that has been accepted due to costs.  The data center was designed for humidifiers, if you operate without on, allowing your rooms RH to fall, are you outside of the SLA's that you sold to your customers?
The solution to this:  Ultra Sonic Humidification.  This technique of inducing moisture into any given environment is 93% cheaper to operate than the two methods I described above, the cylinder and the Infra-red pan.  So for every pound of moisture you add to the air, with Ultra Sonic, if it cost SEVEN CENTS vs. the $.93 for the two old methods.  Simply amazing technology.  There is certainly an exact science to this system, but essentially, it adds water to the air stream by breaking the surface tension of water with a high frequency, much like a tweeter in a high quality stereo or music system versus HEATING water to create the steam vapor.  Why would we want to heat water in a DATA CENTER when the number one mission is to REMOVE HEAT FROM THE DATA CENTER?
Can the same be said for a commercial or medical office building, ABSOLUTELY, in fact, the medical business loves Ultra Sonic.  It allows MRI. CT, PET, CAT scan rooms to be maintained at the proper humidity levels.  This allows for optimum patient comfort, as well as excellent magnet operation.  In the office environment, nothing increases office productivity like HUMAN COMFORT.  Happy people work and don't have to worry about their environment, this is simply one way of helping people smile.
Much more information is available on this methodology, Stulz is the #1 maker and science leader of the technology, see: to get a brochure on the subject. Go here for more information in general: 
If we can help with your education on Humidification, please let us know, we would love to explain as much as you would like to learn.  Contact if you want more, mention Humidification in the subject line.

Enjoy your Fall,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The most often used word in contracting: "Green" Sarcastically said or not ... It is real & it is prominent

A Contractors Guide to Green Products / AirTight

By: Jack Floyd & Greg Crumpton /
As energy efficiency becomes a much hotter and hotter topic, contractors and manufacturers representatives alike are having to really focus on products to deliver to their customers that works.

For years we have heard the pundits talking, selling, promoting, etc… We are now at the time in life where the rubber has to hit the road. Products that work on energy reduction are abundant, however, like many other emerging markets and/or ideas, communicating how as well as how to most benefit by them is vital.

AirTight,, has found a couple of really niche products that do a great job of performing and allowing us to measure and present the savings to the customer. They are both unique in what they are designed to do, but deliver equally impressive results.

First: The Stulz Ultrasonic Humidification concept. The concept is fairly simple and straightforward. Rather than using heat to create a vapor as you typically do in an infrared or immersion heater type humidifier canister, the ultrasonic technique using a high frequency to break up the surface tension on the water within the humidifier, where it is then drawn into the air stream. An ultrasonic humidifier, as compared to the normal infrared humidifier that is factory provided in a CRAC or CRAH unit, operates at a 93% energy savings. Meaning for every dollar of energy used to create humidity within a traditional CRAC style unit, the same amount of moisture will be induced into the air for only SEVEN CENTS.

This is a revolutionary concept; we have installed it into some rather high-end data centers with excellent results. The customer likes to get a whole lot more bang for the Humidification buck. This information is available on line at or from your local Stulz equipment representative. The rep locator map is on the same web site,, as the data on the humidifiers.

The second innovative, energy-mizing technology we have embraced early is, low voltage, Power Over Ethernet lighting. Today data centers are under constant pressure to find ways to improve power usage effectiveness (PUE) and drive higher uptimes. Our current partner, Redwood Systems, , Building-Performance Lighting Platform provides on average a 75% reduction in energy usage from lighting and serves as a single system to monitor disruptions to uptime. The system scales well across a variety of environments from large Fortune 500 data centers and co-location facilities to smaller mission-critical facilities.

Lighting remains the low-hanging fruit to quickly and easily capture energy savings. By controlling LED’s that are highly-efficient at dimming and giving per-fixture control, Redwood delivers best-in-class energy savings for data centers. See how at:

As the world’s only smart building platform to power and control lights and a high-density sensor grid using low-voltage category cable for low cost installation and ultimate flexibility. This approach enables “lighting on demand”. Lights and controls can be easily installed or moved by pulling category (CAT 6) 6 cable to new locations. No line voltage is required for true POE, LED fixtures.

The unique web interface allows for adjustments and improvements on your system by using analytic trends to identify energy saving opportunities and implement continuous commissioning of your energy management system. Real time comparison, as shown below, can be used to capture the energy savings for up to a year with a base line comparison of the original power consumption. 

There are a tremendous number of brands, items and ideas that will lead you to energy savings. The secret? Stay doodling and dabbling .... Waiting and watching will only get you left behind.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

An open letter of thanks to Ryan Gunto:

An Open Letter of Thanks to Ryan Gunto:

 I have watched this RTU replacement job develop over the last couple of months.  The precise nature of your pre-planning and the Execution of Excellence that I saw (a little bit of, due to schedule) today, along-side of the customer being thrilled, is/was incredible.
This morning while getting up and having coffee, I was thinking about the job today. I
took just a little mental vacation/trip with my Dad (John Crumpton (1937-1994)) and the comfort of knowing he would have thought that this day was cool, let alone what we do as AirTight ( in general, day in and day out.

Then, knowing your Dad, only as briefly as I did, I knew that Andy Gunto (1952 - 2008) would have been Most Proud of You, his boy and what you do every day.

Great Job. Thank you.

Thank you all who participated:  From the physical part, to the GoPro Cameramen, to all that coordinated and made this a success …
You all should be proud.

G & Company

Saturday mornings: 6 Years ago Versus this Morning

Six years ago, Saturday mornings on the sofa looked different

This morning as I was was doing my current Saturday morning deal, which is great, fresh ground coffee from @CommonPlace in Pittsburgh, PA, some reading material and a 3.5 lbs. Yorkie (Phoebi) in my lap, it occurred to me how different this looked form just a few years back.

Way back then, I had a copy of the Charlotte Observer and a cup of coffee, not coffee mind you and maybe, just maybe, a laptop near by, just in case and whatever book I happened to be reading at that time.  Probably, @Tom_Peters or @ThisIsSethsBlog Godin, as he is the original Man on the Move.  Seemed pretty normal to me and Phoebi.
New era:  Coffee, Mac PowerBook running for @Twitter feed and LinkedIn perusing, iPhone down loading a book to listen to on an upcoming trip, a hard-copy, yes paper, book I am reading, ... Think @MitchJoel, @BreneBrown, @JonathanFields or maybe @Nilofer, the iPad handy for looking up words that true genius writers use to stretch my gray matter & an old school hand written journal for thought keeping ... And yes, Phoebi.

This kind of got my brain gnashing around with some material that I recently read in @JayBaer 's new book #Youtility.  Jay quoted a gent named, #GeorgeColony, CEO of  Forrester Research,, who laid it out this:  "As the web becomes the AM radio of digital, the mobile App Internet will rise.  This market will be dominated by two or three ecosystems ... semi-closed worlds built on a closely fitting set of apps, phones, tablets, computers, operating systems & partners." 
I guess after reading Mr. Colony's quote, that/This time has arrived.  As an example of this, according to #Apple, the company sold more iPads in April through June of 2012 than any other computer manufacturer sold of their entire product line.  In support of this fact, Gartner, Inc., @Gartner_Inc, reported that app downloads will increase more than 600% between 2012 & 2016. 
Why is all of this important?  I think it is important & very relevant as it pertains to the economy.  More of this type growth and the proliferation of data & data issuing and consuming devices will help drive us to a more robust economy.  Think of it in terms of a small business owner like AirTight.  As more and more people come on line, in a mobile way, we will, as a nation, state, city, and company be impacted in a positive way.  Business develop things, hardware, software and #DataCenters and #CoLo environments to support all of this mobility in a digital sense.  So those people and companies do well, it even trickles all the way down to our size company, as we specialize in removing heat from data centers & colos.
So no real earth-shattering facts here, just a realization that we as a people have changed, we tend to be embracing technology at an incredible rate and this is how we are going down the road. 

I love it.  And judging by the way Phoebi nestles in ... She's pretty good with it as well.
Enjoy technology and your own way of using it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ever wonder what the HVAC "guy" ISN'T telling you

, that which he could to promote #Energy efficiency as well as longevity for you equipment?

We thought this through with an actual homeowner to get her opinion.

What she said:

They don't tell you that you can do some basic maintenance yourself, they want you on their service plan. · The Basics: All HVAC equipment, especially residential is based on very basic science. The number one tenement of those principles is Heat Transfer capability. By keeping the coils clean from debris, dirt, ant beds, etc... you can really help your systems cool as efficiently as possible, especially the outdoor unit that us most likely lurking behind the Azaleas. A simple routine of turning off the power to the outdoor unit and flushing the coils, the thing that looks like a radiator, can really help keep you in much better shape. This address' the first point of:

Point # 2: They don't tell you that you can install a programmable thermostat yourself.

A higher-end programmable thermostat can be a great ally for you and your space, work or home, in saving money by reducing the operating hours if the HVAC system. These thermostats are fairly easy to install, usually a direct wire to wire installation. Hint: Make a drawing and label the existing ones as you disconnect them. There are even WiFi enabled thermostats that allow for remote connectivity, these are a great fit for a weekend home or a remote office with little traffic. You can dial in the desired set-point before arrival as well as check the settings after your weekend guest leave to ensure things are back to normal.

Point # 3: They don't tell you the best programming for your thermostat.
Obviously this will require tweaking based upon your personal preferences, do you like it a little warmer or a little cooler than the average bear? 75*F or so should be a great starting point, you can adjust up or down to suite your needs, same for heating, try 69 as a start and go from there. 

Number 4: They don't tell you the best programming for your thermostat.

We suggest a five degree rise or lowering mark as a starting point. The goal is you do not want your equipment running any more than required while you are away, but you do not want it so far from set point that it has a hard time recovering either. Five degrees will save you a lot of power and allow for a graceful recovery. Over time you can continue to adjust up or down accordingly, remember, every minute that your equipment is off, it isn't costing you anything.

Five: they don't tell you to check your condensation pumps and drains regularly to keep from getting water damage.

Insurance companies will tell you the most expensive claims are those involving water. One way to ensure that you keep your claims and therefore your insurance costs in check are by ensuring you are doing what you can to keep the HVAC system draining well. Dehumidification is a naturally occurring benefit to air conditioning. You remove heat out of the air stream by having a cooler surface for the air to interact with that is cooler than the ambient air temperature. With the laws of physics, it so happens that in order to cooler houses, buildings, data centers, etc... That cooler surface is the evaporator coil of your HVAC system. In a normally operating unit, the coil temperature is around 40* F, plenty below the dew point temperature of the air in your house or office. As the warm air collides and moves through the coil, most of the moisture within it falls into the drain pan where it is removed from the coil area. These drain pans and the associated drain lines and condensation removal pumps can be maintained by the end-user or home owner. A simple 50/50 solution of household bleach and tap water dumped into the drain pan periodically, maybe twice during the summer months, can possibly save an overflow of the drain and stop an insurance claim from occurring.

Lastly at # 6: They don't tell you they'd rather convince you that you need a newer system than work on older equipment.

The HVAC industry in not all that unique from other industries in regards to craftsmanship ... Better said, the dying art if craftsmanship. The industry at large has seen a shift over the last 20 years or so and has become dependent upon "parts changers" versus the tradesmen who over the years have devolved and utilized craftsmanship to ply their trade. The down side to that can be witnessed in the industries obsession to replace versus repair broken HVAC systems.

Yes there are many times that a system could benefit from a new indoor, outdoor or both unit. Energy use, age, general conditions should dictate these decisions, not the lack of talent by the guy performing the diagnosis. So, if you are told, "you just need a new one", don't be shy about refusing that and asking for a proper repair of your existing unit.

Keeping the image of any industry in the right light can be challenging, we are only as a good of a group as we are as individuals. Not all contractors or "HVAC Guys" are described above, in fact, our industry is full of well-known and not-so-well known companies and people.

Like in any other aspect of life, do your homework, find the right person/company that suites YOU and build a relationship with them Friends always take care of friends.

Read, Learn & Share


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Have you ever been asked or ever wonder, "Is Refrigerant, especially R-134a, heavier than air?

Is Refrigerant Heavier than Air You Ask

I was asked just this week this very question.  Thinking I knew the answer right away, I was able to contain my natural, blurt it out style of an answer, at least until now.  Now that I have indeed verified this data and not relied upon my 49 year old, filled with million of bits of USELESS Data, brain to produce a quality answer.

Yes is the correct answer, Refrigerant, and in this case, I am speaking specifically to and about R-134a, but it is a typical gas.  Always check with the or a refrigerant manufacturer, as the chemical composition of R-134a is all the same regardless of the name on the canister, it is just branded as, Freon or Aspen and a host of other "Names to Make You Think Col or Cold Thoughts".

If you are curious for the actual verbiage, see section 7.1 of the MSDS that this link will take you to.

Why does this matter to people?  Well if you are a building manager or the safety officer within you company, this could be an integral part of your safety SOP's and or helping people understand what to do in the case of a reported refrigerant leak into the office space.  Knowing that these refrigerants will lie close to the floor versus rising within the occupied spaces could be very helpful.

Secondly, if you have a refrigerant evacuation duct system, some instances are dictated by state and local mechanical codes to do so, it will help you understand why it is important to keep the intake grills free of obstructions and debris.

Lastly, if you operate a building of any size, you may want to consider how many other people handle and are prepared for refrigerant related issues.  Having a Refrigerant Management Process is a great idea. 

The link below will take you to an example of how California regulates stationary HVAC systems and the associated refrigerants are to be handled.  Know your local code, that is the only way to ensure that you are covered.

Refrigerant Management Process Link to Info

Remember that each local jurisdiction can and frequently does act independently of any other party.  Different refrigerants also have different characteristics insofar as Global Warming Potential, GWP as well as Flammability levels and ODP, which is Ozone Depletion Potential. We all have a responsibility to handle refrigerants in a safe way to us, others as well as the Earth herself.

Learn and understand what refrigerant or refrigerants, as many buildings contain multiple units that can utilize unique refrigerants, that you are responsible for or have the potential to be exposed to.

Like everything else, knowledge is the key to understanding, then educating others.

I truly hope this will help you structure or refine your system or process.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

VAV versus PIU, have you ever had to try and figure out the difference?

VAV versus PIU, .... WTF (Where's the Fan)?
In many commercial Air Conditioning Air Distribution systems, there is a strange phenomenon.  That is, what is a VAV and what is a PIU and why do many people call all of these one or the other?
Great questions indeed.Unlike your home, commercial and/or industrial duct systems work at substantially higher internal duct air pressure, this is called static pressure.  Static pressure allows the air to flow (move really) from a higher pressure within the duct system to a lower pressure area within the duct system.  This creates the air flow that we all love to feel when we are hot.
In the common fan unit, it can be called an Air Handling Unit (AHU) in many instances, but could located within a Roof Top Packaged Unit (RTU) or a built up air handler, this is where many components are assembled in the field to make an AHU, usually on rather large equipment, there is a fan of some variety that produces static pressure.  This fan(s) could be a typical fan as you would have in your furnace (Forward curve), a backward incline a fan axial, etc... Many types, all trying to do one thing, produce static pressure within the duct to allow the Air Distribution System to deliver air flow.
The Air Distribution System is made up of the fan, as we discussed above, the duct system as well as incorporates all Terminal Units.  These terminal units are the VAV's and PIU's that brought us here to begin with.
                          VAV = Variable Air Volume     PIU - Powered Induction Unit
Both of the devices incorporate a damper than automatically adjust the air flow when the building controls (#Tridium as an example) ask for cool air to be delivered into the space that particular VAV is serving.  These areas being served are referred to as Zones.  In most modern layouts and engineered buildings, the VAV's serve the interior parts of the building, the areas that typically do not require heat.  The heat in these areas is provided by lights, people, solar warmth, etc...
The PIU is an assembly that takes the same concept as the VAV, but once the controls tell the damper to close due to the space set point being satisfied, the PIU will in fact completely close the medium pressure air from the duct system then start a small internal fan that will recirculate return and/or plenum air to begin to temper the space if the temperature still continues to fall, once the fan moving this non-cooled air cannot suffice, the PIU can start to heat, many times this is a single or multi-stage electric heating element or possibly steam or heating water.  These PIU devices are typically located within the exterior zones of a building where heat is required to keep the occupants and or goods at a comfortable temperature.
Knowing a bit more about what is lurking above the ceiling tile may never wind up helping you in your day to day, but at least you will have a good idea of whom to call if things were to get hot and sticky in the office.
For more on HVAC for Office Buildings, Data Centers and any Mission Critical Environment, please visit or The Tech Corner @

DISCLAIMER:  Verbiage within our wacky Mechanical Industry can vary greatly, I have tried within the post to capture the general essence of what "most" people call "most" of the devices.  We try to get along, this is what happens when things go wrong!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Someone just said, "The SWUD Unit is down". What does that even mean & why is it making the building HOT?

SWUD:  More than just an acronym
Back in the 1990's, the Trane Company, now part of Ingersoll-Rand, introduced a line of Environmental Unit's designed to condition low & mid-rise buildings.  These units model numbers began with four letters ... You guessed it , SWUDU9042**BC360095BB101, as you can see if you do not have a Trane operations & maintenance book handy, the short cut to defining what this unit is would be simply to call it a SWUD unit.  These systems have gained in their sophistication and the markets served and now are commonly used in high-rise building applications.
The design of these systems are very compact and deliver a great punch for the limited foot-print that they consume in regards to floor space.  SWUD-style units have a complete mechanical system built within them to allow for the total conditioning of an office environment with the exception of the heat rejection component.  Either a cooling tower or a remote condenser. 

Just like in any home or office, laboratory or data center air conditioner, there a four required components to provide "cooling".  The Compressor(s), Condenser, refrigerant Metering Device, commonly refereed to as a TXV or a TEV and lastly the Evaporator, this is the section where the heat from the air stream jumps into the refrigerant in order to produce the cooling effect that we all need this time of year.
The basics of refrigeration are not all that basic, if you would like, please let me know via @gregcrumpton on Twitter and I will dive deeper into the particulars on the vapor compression cycle (refrigeration) itself.
The gist of this note is to allow you to understand that a SWUD unit, usually resides in the mechanical room of your building, is connected to a medium pressure duct (air distribution) system, works in conjunction with the buildings temperature controls and 9 times out of 10 is connected to a common cooling tower that serves as the final point of heat rejection from the building into the atmosphere.
This is a real simple explanation, but knowing the acronym may allow you to know whom to call if indeed you are hot and sticky at work.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Air Filters for Dummies: The Guide to Changing Your Air Filter

Air Filters for Dummies

Have you ever wondered when, why and if to change your air filter(s) at home or in the office?  Sometimes your thermostat tells you ... How does it know when?  Sometimes you happen to think about it when you see those ugly blue filters in the grocery store.  And then, you really think about it when the A/C stops working and the technician shows up and the culprit is ... You guessed it, Dirty Air Filters.

Back to basics:

Air filters are designed to catch fairly large, it is all relative, particulate out of the air stream.  Most filters are great at catching dust, per hair, etc...  The "ugly blue" air filters are really great for catching pigeons, children and other items of that size, not so good at removing the proper sized particulate from the air stream though.

To really help with dust control, pet dander, and pollen, we suggest using a pleated air filter, it has more surface area, due to the folded pleats designed into it and does a much better job than old blue.

Why are air filters really designed into an HVAC system?:

Air filters are designed into the total HVAC system for only one reason:  It isn't to control the dust on the end-table ... The main purpose of these filters is to prevent the dust and debris from collecting on the face of the coil (heat exchanger) of the air conditioning portion of the system.  The refrigerant (trade name Freon) in the system requires that heat be transferred from the air stream into the refrigerant circuit, it can only do this efficiently when the entire coil surface is clean and available for this exchange.  The natural by-product of air conditioning (cooling) is dehumidification, hence when dehumidifying, the evaporator (indoor coil) is wet with condensation, this would really gum-up with dust and grime if the filter was not there to PROTECT the coil surface.  That is the entire purpose for the filter, all of the other benefits we enjoy are just icing on the cake.

The BIG question ... How often to Replace the Filter(s):

As i said above, sometimes your thermostat will tell you to do it ... It is simply guessing.  It uses a hypothesis to say to do it based upon hours of operation, not "dirtiness" or pressure drop or anything scientific.  This is really a convenience feature that is there to simply serve as a reminder to do it.  We suggest changing the air filters in your home and office environment quarterly, four times per year.  Most residential systems only have one or a few filters, many office buildings have a much larger count and therefore will need to be considered in the budgeting process.  Your HVAC service contractor can help with the value to add in for that replacement program. 

The other thing to consider:

Ina commercial office building, there are systems that allow you to induce outside air into the space as the primary cooling source.  This is called an air-side economizer, there are water-side economizers as well, but that is for a different day, these will require a little more monitoring of the air filter condition due to the high percentage of ambient air that is being puled through the filters.  The economizers are a great money saving tool and even though the filter replacement cost will increase with use, your overall power consumption will be reduced so far, there will be a "No Brainer" conversation to be had.  For more on Economizer Use Read about it in a past Newsletter @:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wonderng where these terms came from?

Common Questions Regarding HVAC Terminology & Applications
Over the years, many people have had similar questions to common thoughts. During my 30 plus years, I have catalogued many of these. Seems to be a great time to start eking them out, summer is here and the mighty HVAC industry roars!
Ø Why is it that I hear people talking about how many “Tons” their HVAC unit is? Is it that heavy, does a 3 ton system really weigh 6,000 lbs?
ü A ton of refrigeration is approximately equal to the cooling power of one ton (2,000 lbs.) of ice melting in a 24-hour period. The value is defined as 12,000 BTU per hour, or 3517 watts.
The original design utilized a big block of ice, roughly a ton of it, then a fan, either electrically powered or otherwise driven would blow air over the ice, the air would surrender its heat to the ice, thus melting it, then the now cooler air would be delivered to the place people had gathered, typically in places of worship or community gathering sites. These values were established long ago before the mass use of centralized systems. There are many variations, designs and styles of units and complete systems. Large, small, water-based, refrigerant-based, etc… For more information and further details, visit:

Ø What is the part of the A/C system that sits on the roof and/or behind my house in the shrubbery?
ü It is the Condensing Unit with the Condenser Coil within the cabinet. A condenser coil is one means of heat rejection commonly used in an air conditioning system. It is typically located on an outdoor pad or on a rooftop and looks like an automobile radiator in a cabinet. It is usually hot to the touch (120°F / 49°C) during normal use. Its function is to transfer heat energy from the refrigerant to the cooler surrounding (usually outdoor) environment. Yes, even when it is 100 degrees outside, it is still cooler than the refrigerant that is circulating with the tubing. The more commercially related Dry Cooler or Fluid Cooler serves the same purpose of heat rejection and physically appears similar, with the difference that the condenser coil uses hot refrigerant which changes from a gas to liquid as it move through the coil, whereas the Fluid Cooler uses hot liquid such as water or a water-glycol mix.

These coils typically require an annual cleaning with water and/or a solution, determined by the particular manufacturer. This cleaning will keep the heat exchange rate within normal limits, thus saving energy consumption, therefore power and keep the system cooling at optimum levels. This cleaning should always a part of your Preventive Maintenance program.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Difficulty and the Enjoyment of Finding the Next Technician to Hire

The wonderful world of HVAC is where I spend much of my life.  Many of the hours spent are with our people who are or become core members of the tribe, we call them AirTightans.  We search high and low for the right type of person to join our tribe.  No they are not tribe members day one, but if we search out the right kind of folks, they can blend into our tribe and as they learn the AirTight culture, eventually (10,000 hours or so) they morph into AirTightans.

Yes, we do all of the "must do's" to ensure we are vetting out and getting the people to interview who at least have the best chance to stick around long-term.  35% of our small and young company have been with us 5 years or longer.  We are 14 years old and have 35 employees on the pay-roll.  We also have the first ever employee, Denny Baumgart and our first customer, Childress Klein Properties.

As you know if have ever tried to hire anyone, let alone a skilled craftsman, it is a laborious effort.  As you are interviewing, multiple times with multiple different people within your tribe, real life keeps going.  So after three rounds and three different groups of us interviewing, we narrow down or list, as that list gets narrowed, we ouch into the relationship with a ride along session with team leaders, work with our production team, etc...

If all of that goes well, then we get to make an offer and see if we can come to terms on finances and benefits.  We are not a unionized shop, so we actually get to negate the person skills value, versus there positional pay, way better in my mind .... Kind of like our customers do us!

Well, this past Friday we came to an agreement with such a gentleman, we are excited by the prospects of him coming, his opportunities to understand us, our ways and most importantly, how strongly we feel that Excellent Customer Service and Care are the cornerstone of AirTight.

Wish us well in our new relationship, we will be learning each other, coaching, mentoring, guiding and everything humanly possible to allow this to flow as it should.

Next up .... Start looking and being open to the next great soul that comes along and wants to take the ride with us.

Is that you?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lunch as part of Success Series of Interviews / "Bob Smith" – A World Class I.T. Industry Leader

The lunch interview was one more installment of the “Success Interview Series”.  “Bob Smith”, the successful CEO of a local, Charlotte, NC, Co-Location & Managed Hosting Company was my willing guest.  Bob has been a friend of AirTight for many years, we have been fortunate to be able to assist their growth within the infrastructure of their companies multiple data centers scattered throughout the region.  I asked him if he would break bread and allow me to better understand what it took to become successful, at  least from my view-point, as you know, most successful people are slightly reserved when it comes to anointing themselves as successful.
After settling in, he was kind enough to really open up, we discussed how he got to where he was, the real road map, complete with pot holes, steep grades and even some dirt roads.  It was really amazing to me to be able to get a glimpse into the world that normally we only imagine.  Most often, I find anyway, that when I think about success and the people who fit under that banner, it seems pretty glamorous, then to find out about the pot holes and the slippery slopes of inclement weather, it allows a deeper appreciation.
This interview was certainly not the exception to that rule.  The exception was how much this gentleman told me and how goofy I must have looked as he told me some of the happenings.  We talked for over an hour, towards the end, he settled on just a few examples of what had “Made Him Successful”.
Being Forgiving:  This was the dominant thought.  Bob relayed how forgiveness allowed him to move from one business relationship that didn’t end so well, but the forgiveness he allowed to enter his heart, really put him on his current course.  I didn’t take this at all lightly, in fact it made me recount a time or two that I should have been / wished I would have been more forgiving.  It certainly would have allowed for quicker wound healing.  The second and most spoken about publicly part? … Having people around you that you can trust and have candid conversations with without the raw words spilling out.  Just good, simple and clear communications to put all on the same page.  The final thought was about your investors: …  Be it capital, emotions or just confidence:  Work to have a great rapport with the team, they can allow you to really roll, but they have to believe in the mission, they cannot do that if they do not believe in you.
This session, like all of them thus far have been, are about just a handful of things.  You do not have to complicate things, just concentrate on the basics.  (Jim Rohn was/is famous for this line /  Honesty, being fair and do not put your reputation at risk.
These are the exact things that Bob has done.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Warren Buffet's 10 Rules to Success

I like to follow Warren Buffet.  He is a quirky, funny and great guy.  While he operates in an entirely different stratosphere than our company does, these rules seem to work for many different sized enterprises.  They are a good read and good things are bound to happen when you implement as many of them as you can.  He appears to have a great time in life and hangs out with some "fairly" successful folks as well.

So here they are, as he presents them:

1. Reinvest Your Profits. This makes sense not only in the stock market, but in a small business as well. Entrepreneurs who bleed all the profits out of a business find that they may struggle to grow the business into something larger and more valuable.

2. Be Willing to be Different. Buffet didn’t make his fortune by following the crowd. Instead, he invested when everyone else was panicked, and sold off when everyone else was buying. That strategy always beats the market. Doing what everybody else is doing - the same way they are doing it - is the recipe for becoming average. Nobody pays extra for “average”.

3. Never Suck Your Thumb. After you gather the information you need, make a decision. To Buffet, any time wasted to get to a decision is just “thumb sucking”. Success comes from immediately grabbing every opportunity that you can recognize.

4. Spell out the Deal In Advance. Your bargaining position is never stronger than before you are committed. So, advantage of that opportunity to spell out the details and specifics of any deal before you start. This is especially true when working with friends or family.

5. Watch Small Expenses. In the investment world, this translates into watching not just the returns offered by investment funds, but also the fees charged by the fund managers. This is so true in every aspect of small business and personal finance, as well.

6. Limit What You Borrow. Buffet claims to never have borrowed a significant amount of money. His advice is to remain debt-free, and then save and invest money. This is a very counter-cultural (see #2) contrast to those who preach getting rich using Other People’s Money.

7. Be Persistent. This is an advantage that the small entrepreneur has over larger, more established competitors. Persistence and ingenuity can, and often does win against large odds. If you’ve done your research, taken care of the details, watched your expenses and stayed out of debt, your success through persistence may only be a matter of time.

8. Know When to Quit. Don’t throw good money after bad. Resist the temptation to salvage a bad deal with a last-minute home run.

9. Assess the Risk. Buffet recommends thinking through both the best-case and the worst-case scenarios. This helps clarify the risks and rewards for any venture, which is critical to the decision making process.

10. Know What Success Means. Buffet doesn’t measure success in terms of dollars. As he says, “When you get to my age, you’ll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.” Here is wisdom.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cheap Is No Bargain

First Composed by Jim Bartolotta (HVAC – Mechanical Contractor & Friend), Chicago, IL / Tweaked add images added by G. Crumpton / AirTight


“It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little.  The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot … it can’t be done.  When you deal with the lowest bidder, it is wise to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better!”

                                                                   John Ruskin (1819-1900)

This simple fact regarding cost was written in the late 1800s, but it still holds true today.  The HVAC industry is full of companies who claim to offer discount service, when in reality they perform “breakdown maintenance”.  The scenario usually goes something like this:  the building owner or manager calls for service (oftentimes, it’s an emergency); the “discount” company sends someone out to patch things up, and the building owner is led to believe that everything is working fine.  A short time later the system fails again, and this cycle continues until the system is in such disrepair that it must be replaced.  Now the building owner is faced with a large, unexpected expense. 

Maintaining a complex mechanical system in this way is like putting a band-aid on a serious injury.  Without routine testing procedures there is no way of knowing what trouble lies ahead.  So why then, when it comes to a building’s HVAC system, which is mechanically very complex and represents a large investment, that routine maintenance is often put off or forgotten?

One reason is because in commercial buildings, heating and air conditioning systems are usually housed where they’re not readily seen, like on the roof or in a basement mechanical room.  Their location makes it easy to forget that like anything mechanical, they need attention.  The functions they perform are also easily taken for granted, until the system ceases to operate properly.

Quality mechanical contractors take a different approach to mechanical systems.  Due to lack of maintenance, many building owners are spending far too much on their HVAC systems and related costs such as higher energy bills, loss of production, emergency repairs, and ultimately, premature replacement.  Long-term success comes from the contractor sharing their customer’s concerns and providing a planned maintenance program that offers solutions.

Because HVAC systems are extremely complex, quality contractors provide experts in all facets of operations, ensuring their customers get the right person for the job and information on technological advances.  Regularly scheduled visits guarantee that the system is constantly monitored and maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  An offensive approach to maintaining such valuable equipment allows for budget control and just makes good business sense.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Establishing a Leadership Team from Within

Many companies get to a point where you have to have some lieutenants to help forward the mission.  So you corral your top talent, real stars who get it, care about the mission and yet, have been taught little, if any, leadership skills.  Maybe a couple of them served our great country through one of the armed forces, maybe one was the captain of the football team or the majorette in charge of the drill team in college.  But overall, we all grow up, refrain, most of us grow up having to learn leadership from in front of the keyboard, becoming a student teacher, which from what I gather is like the band scene in the movie “Roadhouse” where the crowd was throwing stuff at the band  or peering out of the windshield of a service vehicle.

First step, get your core together and ask them what is it they want from a leadership position?  Most of the front line assassins simply do not know.  It isn’t that they do not want to help, it is simply that many people do not know what leadership looks like, sounds like or moreover, feels like to be sure.  Once you get them circled up, it does get easier, for me, we start simple and depending on your group, ours are mid-thirties with a wife/husband and two kids on average.  The amount of time that they can spend on personal development can be impaired fairly significantly until the kids are of a functional age and that the spouse of said employee or team member realizes that the effort by their partner may well indeed pay off later in life.  Learn how to deal with the DIMK’s (Dual Income Multiple Kid’s) group, they make up our future and current leaders.

As a male, I can attest to the fact that we on average do not mentally mature until we are in our mid thirties or at least 74.5% of us.  That isn’t a bad thing, it just is, deal with it, pace yourself, your expectations and work through it.  As a male doing what I can to serve the female members of our team, they do get it much faster, they also tend to have many more responsibilities than their hairier spouses, it all will come in time.  Just keep the faith, keep the energy flowing and work on your on expectations as to what you can expect from this next generation of EXCELLENT leaders you are shepherding.

Parting thought, Do Not Not Do This, It Is Important, We all need the next generation to be strong, keep the faith even on those days when you feel that ... whatever feeling.  

Dig In!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ctrl Alt Delete

Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life.

Your Future Depends on It.

I sat there on my favorite couch at home peering into this funky colored orange book, delighted to finally have it in my hands.  Though it was a typical morning, me up early, great coffee and study time before the "real day" had begun.  It was an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of Ctrl Alt Delete, the new, soon-to-be-released book by one of my new favorite authors, bloggers and thinkers:  Mitch Joel.
Mitch Joel was a gent who I had grown to admire over the previous few years, I was introduced to him by the Internet... Shocked right?  I was on #Amazon looking for some new reading material by some up and comers, I read about Mitch Joel (@MitchJoel) and took him to be a little of Seth Godin (@ThisisSethsBlog) and a little of the business owners that I have known and appreciate, due to the common sense and logic displayed in the table of contents ... In a word, it was relevant to me.  So I bought it, yes, hardcover for me, yes like electronically-formatted books, et al , mainly for travel ... I still enjoy paper books though for my morning read.
OK, how did I come to get this ARC?  One day, while reading Mitch post of the morning, I saw an invite that he published, it basically said, hey, if you buy Ctrl Alt Delete today, in a pre-purchase from Amazon kind of way, you will receive the ARC for your efforts.  So Again, I did. 
Shortly before this posting by Mitch, I was fortunate enough to be able to meet him, talk a bit and watch him work.  Mitch and Jeffrey Gitomer (@Gitomer), Jeffrey who is a friend, had invited me over to watch and listen to this podcast he and this "Great Guy from Canada" were going to be recording.  I say to #Gitomer, Hmmm, great guy from Canada huh, would it happen to be Mitch Joel?  Gitomer says yes, I went on to explain me following and enjoying Mitch's work, so I was psyched to get to go to the Gitomer offices and see this go down.
The winter day arrived and I was able to meet Mitch and listened as he and Jeffrey talked and discussed several topics on the podcast, both were spot on.  Mitch showed his hand just a bit and discussed some of the core work within his up-coming book. #CtrlAltDelete.
OK, back to the couch, cracking it open and zooming in on the Table of Contents page, I had a flash back to Six Pixels Table of Contents.  Good, clear and succinct chapters.  Digging into the pose over the next couple of mornings, I really was drawn to The #OneScreenWorld and the #EmbracingtheNext chapters.  This book is filled with real-world examples sprinkled in with a usable "road-map" if you will about what lies ahead.  Not a pie-in-the-sky kind of way, but in the way of:  Look at this point, and that point, by analysing Mitch's words, the road-map parts really jump out.
I highly encourage any and all that want to be #relevant in the coming age to buy and study this book, one reading is not enough, simply use it as you would a #Fodors travel guide, it is that forth-telling.

Read, Learn & Share
Greg / @gregcrumpton