Breaking into Residential (possibly commercial) Oil Heat Servicing

Hi. First of all, I'm NOT looking to start my own business, but rather work for an established HVAC outfit. I'm in my early 50's and found myself having to go through a career change and there are a LOT of people in the same boat.
I do have a pretty strong equipment background, but no long periods of experience in oil heat. My first exposure to heating systems was back in the early 70's when I used to maintain an industrial boiler system for a textile mill. I also took a full time one year course in HVAC at a school in Boston, also during the 70's. I learned the ropes on residential oil heat from a real expert (now retired and moved away) during the 80's and early 90's in my spare time. Most of my oil furnace experience has been on and off working as a handyman in a neighboring state, doing mostly annual maintenance and the work was usually referred by my mentor.
There are a few large HVAC companies in my area and I sure would like a shot at working for one of them. However, my experience is pretty spotty as you can tell from what I've written so far. I have a few simple instruments (draft guage, smoke tester) specifically for heat, some A/C tools. I'm very strong in electrical/electronics and have every tool or instrument you can imagine in that area, but I've spent a fair amount of time in other technologies also.
I've already talked to a couple of smaller outfits about working for them and they didn't show much interest. My handyman customers were always very happy with my work and I have the references to prove it. I work well with people, can troubleshoot pretty fast, make repairs reasonably fast, and do good quality work. It boils down to someone just giving me a chance.
If anyone has advice or suggestions on how to approach these larger companies, I would certainly appreciate it. I realize this is no way to get rich. Some of the questions I have is: What test gear am I expected to have, and can you recommend any suppliers (I would certainly consider used equipment)? How can I best downplay lack of experience yet show that I have a background, ability and attitude that will get me up to speed fast?
If you prefer to send email, please feel free: waywarddennis(at sign)aol.com
Any advice you can offer will be gratefully appreciated. BTW, are there any really active discussion forums on HVAC or heating specifically? I would like to find other non-usenet groups.
Best Regards, Dennis
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Do you LOOK early 50's? No one in their 20's wants to send an _old man_ on nasty clean & checks, 24/7. The only way for them to do that comfortably is to make you the villain/asshole of the shop, thereby gaining vindication for scheduling .

A new hire who can still work in the field over 50 is supposed to be the voice of experience, salty dog of the trade, etc., NOT a greenhorn in their eyes.

Not someone an owner can manipulate or intimidate like a young inexperienced tech.

Ego's populate the small shops quickly. A below average tech can easily become the Big-Fish in-a small-pond, and has no intention of letting go of that.

Good and bad news.
You have none of the top requirements to become an Oil/residential service tech, however you have ALL the skills to step right in as a salesman.
You have years of familiarity, just enough field experience, your well spoken and display good common sense from your post (take that for what it is worth). A large company needs salesmen with just enough service knowledge to not be cocky to the techs or rock the boat.
Over 50 gives a sense of security to the customer that a _grownup_ is overseeing the deal. (that's what the owners are really hiring you for).
Sales commissions in HVAC land can be from excellent to _hell no, YOU sell it!_.
-zero
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Hi Zero. Thanks for the advice and kind words. You're not the first person to mention sales and I did work in a marketing department in a major corporation putting together product demos. I would also go to the trade shows all over the country and chat with potential customers. Man, I loved doing that! I really do enjoy working with people and the most gratifying work I've done was to teach at a local community college in the evenings. Unfortunately, I could only do this for a year since I was traveling quite a bit. Now that my career has virtually vaporized (did you know that experience is now OUT and inexperience is IN?) I would love to teach again but need to go back to school for about a year to finish up my degree. (I was on the school's adjunct staff and they waived the degree requirements because they needed a "practicing consultant" as part of their marketing pitch) I'm already putting two kids through college and have dug quite a financial hole for myself so going back to school now is out of the question.
Thanks again. You have excellent writing skills and a concerned tone to your message. You would probably make a great career counselor and I'm serious!
Best Regards, Dennis
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Your welcome and thank you, Dennis. Good luck to you.
-zero
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A much better career would be Bartending.
Jabs

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you must be hitting the sauce lately......previously you were recommending the best career is a concierge for any Vegas hotel......

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snipped-for-privacy@gonefishin.net wrote:

furnaces! Just a few Oil furnace servicing observations. http://www.udarrell.com/oil_furnace_heating.html - udarrell
--
WISDOM PRINCIPLED EMPOWERMENT COMMUNICATIONS -
THE REAL POLITICAL ISSUES and PEOPLE EMPOWERMENT
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Hi Udarrel In the last 17 years I've had about a dozen service techs work on my system, because I couldn't be home to do it. This is from a local oil fuel outfit. Now I'm not saying all oil service techs are incompetent, but EVERY ONE of the guys who came here to work on my furnace left it in worse shape than it was in before they arrived. I can even give you a few examples.
Problem- no heat, furnace will not turn on despite thermostat showing it's freakin cold! Service tech comes, replaces thermostat furnace works again. I arrive home next day to a freezing cold house and very upset wife. Turns out the tech did not have the wires firmly connected. I found and fixed the problem in about 10 minutes and my wife thought I was a hero. :-)
And you don't even want to know about the time they put on the wrong size nozzle!
Another Problem- Gurgling in water lines. I purge lines but gurgling returns in a day or two. No time to work on the furnace so I called the oil company and they send the service tech. I explain what I did and service tech probably figured I'm some kind of idiot and how dare I work on such complex equipment! Service tech purges water lines and leaves. Gurgling back in a day or two. Now TWO techs come back two more times and gurgling returns both times. That weekend I roll up my sleeves and get to work on the furnace. It turns out the diaphragm tank's rubber rubber diaphragm was leaking, the water pressure regulator was also faulty, and the air bleeders are clogged. Went to home depot, bought all needed parts for about $60, and installed them in about two hours. (diaphragm tank fittings were seized and had to be cut off) Did one last air purge of lines. Furnace worked flawlessly for TWO YEARS and the only other work I did during that time was a fall cleaning and replacement of filter.
I finally reached a point where I won't let those guys in the house. I now do all my own repairs. It's not rocket science and these heating systems are pretty primitive compared to the equipment you'll find making computer chips or even textiles for that matter.
I'm sure you're a real professional and damn good at what you do. But there's no way in hell you can convince me I can't do this type of work when I compare these systems with what I used to work on. I think every service tech should be required to take a tour of a clean room and see what REAL equipment is. It would be a humbling experience for them, guaranteed.
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Handyman, Its nice you can get an oil furnace running and I can understand you finding lots of guys that dont know how to do oil properly. The problem though is that you know good from bad but you dont know good from excellent. Your oil furnace may be running but is it running efficiently? You dont know unless you have a combustion efficiency test done. You can literally save more than a hundred gallons of fuel in a season with a properly tuned oil furnace. Now that yours is running, take time to find someone that can test it and tune it properly. You need a smoke test, stack temp test, CO2 and/or O2 test and draft measurement. You can get a before and after reading to tell just how much better your system is running. If you could save 25 or 50 gals of fuel in a season, wouldnt it be worth it? A nozzle and oil filter is NOT a tune-up. Bubba
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On Fri, 23 Feb 2007 23:49:13 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@gonefishin.net wrote:

Bubba
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Bubba wrote:

I would like to be a porn star.
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Now there's something I have the right equipment for! Wouldn't need test gear either, except for a maybe a vacuum gauge.
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Danger Boi opened up a whore house (watch him say something original like "and your mom works there"), but he doesn't have any girls yet to service the customers....so he's running the place by hand....
--
Respectfully, Bob

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wrote:

Now there's something I have the right equipment for! Wouldn't need test gear either, except for a maybe a vacuum gauge.
I guess the vacuum gauge is so you can see how much it takes for you to suck the chrome off a bumper hitch??
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It's a good idea. However, there's a heck of a lot to oil service that new guys like me don't yet know. Someone else suggested to try being a salesman. That could work.
Another behind the scenes job that I've heard, is the guy who stocks the trucks. Makes sure the field guys have what they need. I'm not sure you (or I) have the experience to be good at this.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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