I have been following this post for the time it has been up. I think you guys need to be brought back to reality. I have been in the middle of this trade for a long time now. In 3 large metro areas, in large commercial both refrigeration and HVAC. The age component alone has nothing to do with whether you will find a job or not. It has to do with your appearance. It has to do whether your fat or not. It has to do with, whether or not you have tatoos all over yourself, or you wear an unkept beard. It has to do with whether you can speak maturely and intelligently to back up and to reinforce your appearance as being someone older, mature and spot on.
Age. It is something. Generally, older guys do not want to go beyond what they know, don't care to look and learn for new things, don't get excited about the new technology as much. I have a very good buddy who is 54. Got laid off after 18 years with a company, who started a few years back to treat him like he was dirt. They stopped sending him to schools and kept him on older equipment. The attitude of the shop was not normal, rather just inept at the trade all together in terms of what is the right, respobnsible and most wise thing to do. The shop had changed, and they were gunning for guys like my buddy. But. He kept up. He stole programming guides and hardware overveiws and kept trying to learn on his own. Went to a few schools on his own, that he paid for, on his vacation time, shop never knew.
So one day, they lay this guy off. No one talked about his age, or the fact he was top buck, but if you knew the shop, you'd know what it was about. Some things never have to be said. Due to him keeping abreast when the first company gave up on the guy, he was able to secure a position almost immdiately with the best game in town, for more money and more freedom and authority. The last shops major competitor.
He is a perfect example of someone who age has no bearing on. He is as iquisitive and as as excited about the trade today, as he was 30 years ago. And this guy, he is one top knotch mechanic.
It's not enough in this business to become old. You must remain with all the same key components of yourself you had back "in the day". You must remain in shape, maybe quit smoking or drinking, be willing to learn new stuff, be willing to still work hard and work smart and work efficiently. Stay abreast, update your skills at every chance you can, be it on your own or on the company time.
The fact that you may be 55, that alone will not bar you from the opportunity. But if your 55, look like a fat POS, or have health problems because you smoke or drink,and then add to that your lack of wanting to remain all these years at the cutting edge, thats your fault, thats not the industries fault.
You know, I know a lot of guys middle age I have to deal with in business. Guys that are in the same boat but just white collar. Some I know, they resist all the fancy stuff, or these new ways and styles to manage, and they face a bleak future. You must remain modern. Then on the other hand, I know 60 year old executives, say at the Big 3, they have stamina, they wear the new clothing stkles and hair styles, they remain in shape and energetic, some I know are going back for their masters degrees at 60 years old, so they can get that next promotion up the executive ladder. And they love it. You do recognize that they are older, but now, oh my god, what do they represent, they represent all the good of aging and wisom and staying alive and on top. Not just gave up at 50 cause the world did not give back to them.
It's health. It's appearance. It's staying abreast. It's Attitude. It then comes to age.
My accountant, I have known for years. We are the same age. Low 60's. He is a partner in the firm that does our books. Bill called up and said that he has sold his share and is turning our account over to his partners.
"Oh?" I said, " Are you going to retire?" He said, "No I have be going to school to become a lawyer." "I passed the BAR and I got a job in Burlington."
Obviously his motivation is not money. (I can attest to that because his accounting bills ain't cheap). So the answer is, "Be all that you can be!"
Age discrimination does exist. I am not overweight. I am in good health and good shape. Yes I do have gray hair have since highschool. My wife picks out my clothes so they are good looking and match. I have consdered dying my hair.
I have been asked point blank three time "just how old are you".
When I work with others they have a problem believing that I am 58. Age iS A factor in todays job market.
Originally posted by doglips Is it hard for older people to find a job in the HVAC Field?
I was 40 when I got into this biz. No real experiance with HVAC, but I have been repairing whatever since I was a kid.
When I got the job offer I was looking for a part for my own furanace that I installed myself 10 years earlier. I stopped into a local HVAC shop asking for this part and ended up dealing with the owner. Next thing I knew we were playing twenty questions! Have you done this and that, and so forth. I asked him why all the questions, and he asked me if I was looking for a job. My answer was "no!".
Four weeks later I was in my own service truck doing HVAC service! I bought a truck load of books, read everything I could get my hands on. Went to every school I could get to, some were on my dime. Joined RSES just to be around some more gents in the biz hoping some info would rub off on me.
I have been with the company six years now, and enjoying the heck out of it! My first manager was an ass, but he is gone. After he left all the good guys got raises as he was not replaced, but we were expected to take on more responsability. Fine with me, now I just got authority to do the job the way I want to do it, and a couple more $ an hour on top of it! When we hire a new tech, I get to train him.
I can understand what you guys are saying, and obviously with out any direct personal face experience with age discrimination, I am only 32 now, I get what your saying.
I do however deal with many types in and around this industry every day. And have done so at "some" levels in different areas of the country. Take note that I quotation marked "some". Cause you'll understand why as you read on.
Basing on my own witness of these delicate issues, I am simply convinced that your situation is the exception. The fact that you appear old but every other component is in place, no doubt, the market today looks at that and judges you, but not as suppressing as you may believe. I think your being dramatic, but not for bad reason. If it's happened to you, that sucks.
I would take this a step further. And it's about evolution through your career. No one, unless your simply the real nutty guy, you should not want to wrench your entire career. You need to go from and grow from, wrenching as a tech, to sales, or design, or manufacturing, engineering, managing, accounting.
This is one of the most absolute kick ass things about our business. We can move around, and at every single step, there is the opportunity to earn more in financial gain, prestige, experience. As you move on, grey hair actually becomes the prerequisite. What a shift hey?
It's really endless. I often look at myself owning my own business as only a step torards another career move torwards possibly high income doing things like designing for a major corporation. Or running Hussman one day as CEO. You'd see a bred mechanic, lead a manufacturer to produce the best quality refrigeration product for the best value the world has ever seen, bet on that buddy.
It's fluid, it's in motion, we are in a wild wild west of an industry. On the other hand, you may have the reverse idea. You go the other way. 1.Wrench, 2.sales, 3.design, 4.consult, 5.engineering, 6.big shot corporate dude, then maybe on your own as a contractor, or even somehwere in between.
There was a guy on here, Bama Cracker, good dude. About 40. Never see him here any more but. He was a tech. Got on his feet, some wind in his sails, then started contracting, tried it, made some money, but he found out it was not for him, it didn't give him a hard on, like it does me for example, so, he puts himself through engineering school. Lands a job at a manufacturer, good pay, more brains, less back, he is on his way. Did he stay in one place? Hell no. Was he able to move on and around the industry, and each step expand on his last experience? Hell yes. And do you realize how valuable that now makes him as a designer guy? Holy ****. You tell me an industry other than ours that provides those opportunities. You won't find many.
Not many industries provide the sort of wide openess ours provides for multiple opportunity in totally contrasting skill sets but all intertwined and one must have an understanding of one of those skills sets as a segway to the other.
And those opportunities being available at every single level in every facet. You can't deny that. Additionally, what we do, it's only in it's infancy. It's only 80 years old. And incredibly, there are only about 280,000 of us, according the Dept of Labor. Out of them guys, there is only about 2000 of us worth a ****. And it aint something you can do from China or India.
I often have to laugh at Jerry, (benncool), as he likens some of this to the fact that, 80 years ago, we were cutting ice out of lakes, storing the ice in sawdust, and then delivering that ice to your home daily for your refrigeration. Now, I can dial up a grocery store with no wires going 80 miles an hour down the freeway and adjust the temperature of the dairy product a tenth of a degree.
And bet on this. You hear all this manufacturing moving to China. Let it go. There quality will never be good, cause the average chinamen guy don't give a ****. No spirit to kick ass. No drive. No wanting to make it better, easier. They made TV remote control cause we wanted it, they would rather flip channels on black and white TV. It's not in there culture to want to go go go. Plus the fact that 50 cents an hour there sucks to them just as much as it would here.
So warranty service will kill the manufacturer. Statistics just out here in Detroit, say that the UAW 30 bucks an hour Labor component, is now the least driver of costs. Thats not a UAW bull**** study, that was the Wall Street boys.
The chinamen can't buy the F150, he's only making 50 cents an hour, so now Ford has to ship it back here, so I can buy it cause I can afford it, well gas is through the roof so, by the time it's all said and done, they will end up figuring out, they should keep manufacturing here.
It's a pengulim, it shifts there, it will shift back. And what will they need? What will they have to have. Well with robots, precision, computers. Everything needs BTU Management and Humidity Management, and guess what, the life sciences industry's are beggin for us to get our **** together. It's all wide open to us. I really think, we, this industry, all of us together, actually have a huge role to play, far into the future of this country and world.
After all that, do you think grey hair is going to stop you or me. Give me a damn break brother. Grey is just a color, a color representing wisdom and experience. Sell that. Go. Seek and destroy.
Survival is adaption. I once knew a tech that was about 55 or 58 years old. He was what I'd call a natural mechanic. It was secound nature to him like a natural athelete where sports come eazy. One fault he had was he got rigid and couldn't adapt to new technology.So bad if an ignition board failed he might put a pilot light in place of it. When electronic controls became the norm he just gave up and retired. But now I have a joke. A mechanical rep had a bumper sticker on his car. " Youth and Enthusiasm Will Never Defeat Old Age and Treachery." He was mid 50's.
I'll be 59 in couple more months....hired on with outfit with now about 6-8 months ago...had been out of the field for several years, but kept doing little here and there on the side...had several offers that I declined and two that declined me due to my age, one of these we had a face to face and the other was over phone and net....last conversation we had was via cell phone and at the time I was on top of walk-in replacing a 5 hp that i had hossed up by myself...his reply was wasn't sure I could handle the physical aspect of job, due to my age...I do hot/cold, RTU's, food service almost exclusive, ice machines, beverage units, etc and PMI's when slower traffic and some installs at which I called the owner and told him I have to pass on the installs....not because I couldn't handle physical part, just couldn't handle boredom of it. He said he was just trying to keep hours up, said I appreciate that, but if that was the reason, I'd be happy with the downtime instead, but would help in a pinch... troubleshooting is my game and thats what I hired on as, not a grunt...I'm doing this now because the pay is top scale for area, got all the perks and work lone wolf unless I call for helper which is rare....I plan on going back on my own again next spring doing strictly service and replacement and using this as a refreshment hands on...WHY, cause I know I can't keep the pace another 7-8 years that will be required here and if I could I would not want to...been self employed for many years, so know the pitfalls and so forth of being on your own...
Having said all this to say that age does play a factor, but don't think as much so as what Dow said, Appearance, Attitude and Ability, the 3 keys to keep working or start working in this trade as well as many others....owned a custom fab shop years back at age of 30 and 3 best hands I hired were over 50....
There is an old guy here in our area, retired superintendant of a school district, PhD in education, was bored in retirement, always thougtht HVAC was fascinating, went to TSTC in Waco, got associate's degree in HVAC Technology, now trying to learn to be a service tech. Never too old I guess.