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Recruiting and Retaining Skilled Employees

Here are tips and tricks from the Staffing in the Industry Today from AHR Expo 2024. The panel of experts shares excellent tips on how to get new bodies in the industry and how to keep and progress your current team. I will create a second post focusing on training, apprenticeship, and mentorship.


  • Be strategic and proactive in finding new talent.  Think outside of apparent sources. Target specific competencies that you need for particular roles. It’s important to keep networking with people, community colleges, and job fairs.
  • Be prepared that your current candidates will be interviewing you as an employer. Most candidates are looking for a career, not just a job, and may ask what the average number of years your team members have been working for you is.  Is the career development pathway clear and attractive, and what are the core values?
  • There is an opportunity to attract software engineers to the HVAC industry. Fewer jobs can be replaced with AI.
  • Look at recruiting software engineers who Google and other tech companies have laid off. Our industry is less vulnerable to AI replacement.
  • Promote the impact of HVAC work on people’s lives, including energy efficiency, decarbonization and enhancing their comfort, health and safety.


  • Your company must have succession planning. It is challenging to hire a replacement with appropriate skills when a senior employee is retiring in 2 months. Be proactive
  • There are currently 12000 boomers retiring every day.
  • Help your current team grow, levelling up their skills with training sessions and certifications.  This helps them feel valued and ready for new challenges.
  • Compensation is number one. People want more money. They don’t want to feel like they have to struggle at the end of the day to pay their bills. 

Here is the complete recording.

Session Resources

Smart Buildings Industry: A Smart Career Move (

Brad White, President, SES Consulting

Brad is a contributing editor for and the president of SES Consulting. SES offers a broad range of expertise through our diverse experience in construction implementation, cost analysis, HVAC systems, building automation, smart building systems, data analytics, and sustainability services.

Allison Lewis, Apprenticeship Program Manager, ASP

Allison Lewis is a leader in the arena of skills-based workforce development. As ASP’s Program Director, she oversees the operations of employer-driven programs that help workers strengthen their skills using role-specific and high-demand career pathways. What she enjoys most about her job is helping employers, workers, and institutions re-imagine one of the world’s oldest worker development methods, apprenticeship, as a nimble solution to build advanced workers for emerging technology occupations.

Mike Conway, Founder & Executive Director, Stacks+Joules

Mike Conway is Founder and Executive Director of Stacks & Joules, a nonprofit project-based learning program in computer programming and wireless network management. The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) technology means that coding is now a vital skill set across many industries, with our curriculum students gain mastery of rigorous technical skills and concepts vital to jobs in HVACR and building automation.

Kim Brown, Chief People Officer, Cochrane Supply

Kim is the Chief People Officer for Cochrane Supply, where she brings experience in business development and management, spending most of her career in the building automation/building controls and IoT industries.

Skip Freeman, Founder/ CEO/Senior Recruiter, SmartBuildingsIndustry.Jobs

Skip brings 21 years of professional recruiting experience, with the last five year in the Building Automation & Smart Buildings niche. As a small business owner himself, Skip recognizes the need for an affordable, fast, and effective recruiting solution that falls in-between that of posting jobs and a full-fledged recruitment search.

Previously a recruiter, CIA, and Airborne-Qualified US Army Officer in the Combat Engineers , Skip uses “Tactical Empathy” from Chris Voss’ Black Swan Group to reshape a firm’s hiring process and a candidate’s career trajectory, onto a path where success was clearly hoped for into one that is strategically and empathetically engineered for lasting impact.

With plans of launching in late March 2024, SmartBuildingsIndustry.Jobs is a talent portal specifically for our industry, leveling the recruiting playing field for the small to mid-sized contractor/systems integrator in the race for talent.