Rebel With A Cause


Rebel: A person who rises in armed resistance against an established government or ruler.  A rebel is distinguished as an outsider who is excluded from a group whereas a rebel goes against it.

All throughout human history there have been rebels amongst us.  When you say the word rebel, the motorcycle riding, chain smoking James Dean is often the first to come to mind.  But I am more interested in those rebels with a cause for the greater good.  Those lone wolves who have shook their fist in the face of evil despite their own fate.  I like to think of rebels throughout history who made a stand for what could be rather than what always will be. Dreamers, visionaries, thinkers.  These are rebels.

Jesus, William Wallace, Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr…these are just a few rebels that changed the world for the greater good of mankind.  Without them, our world would be unrecognizable today.   Like a gravitational pull, many are drawn into their beliefs and idealistic crusades.  Their persuasive push for change is contagious and often inevitable for those around them.  Rebels have changed society, culture, commerce, religious beliefs, fashion, music, food and even our ability to communicate.  Albert Einstein once said:

When all think alike, no one thinks very much.

During halftime of the 1984 Superbowl, Apple began their rebellion with their infamous Macintosh commercial.  No Superbowl game could have been more appropriate for this commercial.  The Washington Redskins (darlings from our nations’ capital) against the Raiders aka Rebels of Los Angeles.  This Superbowl was THE game in THE year to start Apple’s rebellion.  This was their moment to introduce the Macintosh computer.  This was the start of Apple’s rebellion against the IBM establishment.

As for the Air Conditioning industry, the last 30 years have been somewhat boring for the standard RTU (roof top unit).  The basic design of a roof top mounted air conditioning system has seen very little change.  Sure with the rise of circuit boards and digital controls there have been enhancements, but only slight improvements to the guts of these metal boxes of the sky.  Elaborate computerized energy management systems (EMS) have become very useful to determine when we cycle RTUs with the intent to save energy.  Outside air economizers have been added for free cooling and fresh air.  Refrigerants have changed and coil sizes have increased to improve energy efficiency. Some form of humidity control has been added.  But at the end of the day, very little separates one RTU manufacturer from they other.  That is until Daikin McQuay built the Rebel.

Last year Daikin McQuay threw the proverbial “1984 Macintosh mallet” against the RTU establishment and began their rebellion.  Never before has a roof top air conditioning unit offered as much diversity, control, increased comfort, increased energy savings and reliability.  The Daikin McQuay Rebel will be the new standard for air conditioning equipment for the next 50 years.  Before I get into the specifics of the Rebel, here is what the Department of Energy had to say:

In January 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) joined industry partners in the Better Buildings Alliance (BBA) to release a design specification for 10-ton capacity commercial air conditioners, also known as rooftop units (RTUs). The specification was issued as an “RTU Challenge,” since it aimed to catalyze the market introduction of cost-effective, energy-saving RTUs that would significantly outperform any models that were currently available. The BBA includes an array of building owners that purchase large volumes of RTUs, so their issuance of a specification outlining common performance requirements and desired features represents a powerful demand signal to manufacturers.

DOE announced on May 24 2012 that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge.  Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem participated in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance.

The final participant list was announced by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency, at the Energy Department’s first Efficiency Forum, a public stakeholder engagement event hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.


As you can see in the graphic above and the testament by the DOE, the Rebel is most energy efficient RTU in the world. With an  IEER (integrated energy efficiency ratio) as high as 20.6, this unit is a game changer!  Before an official announcement was made, the DOE personally informed me.  I was speaking at ‘The Reality of Green’ conference held at Smith&Nephew in Memphis, TN regarding new technology in the HVAC industry.  The Rebel was one of the products I spoke about.  The speaker after me was the aforementioned Dr. Kathleen Hogan with the Department of Energy.  There were over 100 attending most of which were my colleagues, co-workers and potential clients.  Halfway into her speech, she starts to explain the DOE Rooftop Challenge.  Large drops of sweat start dripping from my forehead. If you have met me, you will know that I have a really large forehead…lot of sweat.  “Please say the Rebel, please say the Rebel…don’t make me look like an idiot in front of all these people!”  As Dr. Hogan starts to wrap up her speech, she points to me and says, “The winner of the DOE RTU Challenge was Daikin McQuay’s Rebel” (applause then erupted). YES! I can breathe.

How do you create the world’s smartest and most efficient RTU?  Daikin reinvented the 5 most common items within every RTU and added a ton of additional features.  The compressors, condenser fan motors, indoor blower motors, gas-fired burner assembly and outside air economizers are unlike any other in the Rooftop industry.   See for yourself (video).

The new Daikin McQuay Rebel commercial packaged rooftop system offers building owners unprecedented energy savings using quality manufactured McQuay equipment incorporated with advanced, industry-leading technologies that include VAV operation from 3-15 tons, variable speed Daikin heat pump with hybrid (gas, electric, hot water) heat options, Variable speed ECM motors on all fans, ultra-quiet composite Daikin condenser fans, energy recovery wheel, and a variable speed Daikin inverter scroll compressor that minimizes on/off cycling.

Rebel’s innovative design creates air conditioning part-load energy efficiencies (as high as 20.6 IEER) that overwhelmingly surpass ASHRAE’s 90.1 performance standard by a staggering 84%.

Rebel also offers great energy savings in the heating mode with COP’s at 47°F that are as high as 3.8. And during winter months, Rebel’s heat pump provides significantly lower operating costs than any type of alternative mechanical heat, including traditional gas furnaces.

With Daikin’s new inverter compressors, ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) condenser motors, ECM blower motors, ECM powered exhaust and turn down to 10% on the gas burners, this Rebel rooftop unit is 100% variable speed.  Meaning this unit will operate and a multitude of variable speeds for part load, full load and dehumidification.

No more short cycling.  No more wasted energy.  No more humidity problems.  No more temperature fluctuations. No more high utility bills.

Daikin compressors provide industry-leading energy efficiencies unmatched by typical fixed speed, digital scroll, or 2-stage scroll compressors. Typical compressors cycle excessively resulting in locked rotor current spikes, increased compressor wear, temperature fluctuations, erratic economizer control and over-cooling. The Daikin compressor modulates, delivering only the required energy to satisfy space conditions, providing you with exceptional energy savings, temperature control, acoustics, and quick payback.

Here is a list of 17 Rebellious Reasons why this unit is the world’s most advanced RTU (click here for the detailed list)

  1. Variable Speed Inverter Scroll Compressor
  2. Variable Speed Heat Pump
  3. Variable Speed ECM Motors on All Fans
  4. Electronic Expansion Valves
  5. MicroTech® III Unit Controller
  6. Seamless Top Panel
  7. Hinged Access Doors
  8. Hybrid Backup Heat Option
  9. Ultra-Quiet Condenser Fans
  10. Double Wall Foam Cabinet
  11. Durable Construction
  12. 100% Outdoor Air Option
  13. Dehumidification Control
  14. Stainless Steel, Double-Sloped Drain Pan
  15. Low Radiated Noise
  16. Economizer
  17. 2” and 4” Slide-Out Filter Racks

Click here for the Daikin McQuay Rebel brochure to learn more.  Available in 3-15 Tons.

When you see James Dean, you see a “Rebel Without a Cause” and the persona of cool.  Now when you see an air conditioning system, think of the “Rebel With a Cause” and the new definition of cool: Daikin McQuay.  Don’t fall victim to the establishment in your industry.  Be a thinker.  Be a visionary.  Be a Rebel.

For more information on the Rebel air conditioner or any of Daikin’s products, call us at Ewing|Kessler.  We are the local distributor for Daikin McQuay and we are the rebel in HVAC Solutions, Equipment, Support and Automation.  We can help determine if the Rebel is right for your building.  Ask us how the Rebel can reduce your bottom line, increase comfort and put your building on the path of sustainability. Click here for our Line Card.

I want to hear from you.  Tell me who your favorite “rebel” is and why.  Email me or leave a comment on this page.  I look forward to seeing you and your building soon!

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development, Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 



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AHR Expo 2012 – Chicago

Last week I was in Chicago where I attended the world’s largest HVAC expo.  There I walked about 10 miles at the McCormick Convention Center where over 1,900 exhibitors from over 30 countries were showing off their goods.  Frictionless compressors, solar hot water, dashboard controls, smart phone operated thermostats, steam on demand boilers, ductless units by the dozens and one Big Ass Fan…that is the actual brand name (see below).

So as a last minute idea, I decided to snap some pictures and post via Twitter as I soaked it all it in.  There was so much information it was like trying to drink from a fire hydrant.  Below is a list of the pictures I took from the Expo and also a couple of videos for your review.  If you are interested in any of the products shown, please give me a shout and our team can design an application for your building. Also, be sure to scroll through all the pictures and videos to see a bonus (non HVAC) video of some local Chicago talent.  Enjoy!


McQuay 700 Ton Magnitude “Magnetic Bearing” Chiller.


Heating domestic hot water with Solar panels.  This is a proven solution.  I can’t remember the name of this particular brand, but here in Memphis, Sharp Manufacturer is cranking out solar panels everyday.


That’s one BIG pump by Bell & Gossett.  B&G is to pumps as Kleenex to tissue and Coke to Cola…leaders in the circulating pumps!

Check out this control system builder by J2 Innovations.  This is their Fin Builder.  Easily create BAS systems and dashboards FAST and they operate on all systems including smartphones, Apple, Windows, Android and iPad.  Check the quick video I took below and click here for more information:

This little fan caught my attention.  With all the distribution facilities in Memphis, this could be a good application for destratification. Click here to learn more:

I finally got to lay my hands on a Nest Thermostat!

For more information on how these little gems operate, check my previous blog titled “Steve Jobs and the Thermostat”.

Impressive booth by Tower Tech Cooling Towers.

My favorite cooling tower on the market: Marley by SPX.  The most reliable and easiest to maintain.

In just a few weeks, I will be installing two of these Honeywell Prestige Thermostats with the Total Comfort Honeywell app for my iPhone!  Once they are installed, I will create a video and post the results.  Stay tuned.

Fabric duct by FabricAir.

Lochnivar Boilers had a fantastic booth.  These high efficiency boilers are made here in Tennessee.

This company makes me giggle every time.  Big Ass Fans have risen in popularity due to their high volume of delivered CFM, lowered energy costs and creative marketing.

These are the most energy efficient steam boilers on the market.  Miura boilers are on demand steam boilers.  We have installed several in our market and one currently under way with Coke Cola bottling in Arkansas.

Another great product by Daikin McQuay coming in 2012 is their new rooftop unit called the Rebel. This package unit is available from 3-15 tons and is one of the most efficient on the market.  For more info, go to this website and watch the video:

Harsco / Patterson Kelley (my favorite of the modular condensing boilers) now offers their MACH Condensing boiler in a 4 Million BTU!  These boilers are installed at FedExForum and the Commerical Appeal in Memphis.

I hope you have enjoyed the products and videos in this edition of Mechanical Matters.  Remember if any of the products peak your interest, please give me and my team a call. We can design the right system for you buildings HVAC needs.  As promised, I have included one more video below.  While in Chicago you have to eat a Hot Dog, Deep Dish Pizza and listen to some great blues.  Check out this little video of some of the blues I heard at Kingston Mines.  Enjoy and until next time, “Stay Cool”.

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development, Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here. And be sure to check out my website


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Steve Jobs & the Thermostat


Author: Jimmy Veteto 

My colleagues will be the first to tell you I’m a creative guy, and they commonly say “Jimmy is different”.  It’s true.  I have never been one to follow the herd, and I become bored easily.  Some would call that A.D.D.  I call it creative multi-tasking.  My business development methodology in the building services industry is very non-traditional. But despite my approach to business, there is one distinct difference that I am proud to admit.

I’m Mac and I think differently. – Jimmy Veteto

The first time I sat down in front of an Apple computer I was sold.  At the time, Mac’s nor iPhones served a purpose in my industry and some will argue they still don’t.  For many years, corporate only provided Blackberry’s and PC’s.  In my business, mechanical engineers, project managers, accountants and estimators surround me.  I feel like an Apple in an Orange orchard.  However, my passion for blogging, websites, creating videos, graphic design and marketing has proven that owning a Mac was one of the best decisions I made in my profession.  It’s helped with exposure in the market place and made my job fun.  Apple products were built for the creative folks in the art department but as I discovered they work just fine for the sales department too.

As we all know by now, Apple’s father Steve Jobs has recently died.  He leaves behind a legacy that most entrepreneurs could not even imagine yet alone achieve.  His creative genius has changed our everyday lives.  When Steve interviewed former Pepsi CEO John Sculley, he said, “Do you want to sell sugar water the rest of your life, or do you want to work for Apple and change the world?”  Who says stuff like that?

I would even guess that this very instance, some of you reading this blog are doing so with an Apple device.  Our kids have iPods, our wives have iPads and if your like me, your iPhones have become another appendage at work, one in which you have to ask your kids to program.  We love these products and not because all of us are Apple geeks, but because they make work productive, life fun and quench our thirst for information.

At this very moment, I am sitting at my daughter’s tumbling class hammering on the keys of my MacBook.  The guy across from me is catching up on emails with his iPhone, and his 4-year-old son is playing Angry Birds on an iPad.   We soon strike up a conversation about Apple products, our admiration of Steve Jobs and thermostats (a point I will soon be at). Then another guy over hears us talking and couldn’t wait to show us how he can access his home thermostat with his iPhone.  Yep Steve lived up to his goal:

We’re here to put a dent into the universe. – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs ability to design technological devices will not be the only thing Apple will miss.  He was a leader; a visionary and he lived out Apple’s 1984 marketing campaign, “Think Different.”   When I set out to write this edition of Mechanical Matters, my goal wasn’t to write another homage to Steve like other bloggers online or hundreds of magazines on newsstands, but it’s almost impossible not too.  I was inspired, and now Apple has entered our world in the HVAC/Mechanical Contracting world.  A trade magazine on my desks reads:

How Apple is changing the HVAC Industry.  –Engineered Systems Magazine

Just recently a sales rep from Honeywell aggressively tracked me down to pitch their latest temperature control product.  He left me multiple voicemails and emails eager to meet with me…his passion was admirable.  Finally I returned his call.  “What was the fuss all about”, I thought.  Then as he sat across my desk I quickly found out.  Honeywell’s latest thermostats are wireless, easy to install and they include an app.  Yep, Honeywell’s RedLINK residential and light commercial thermostat can be remote accessed from your iPhone and iPad.  As an Apple geek, this rep knew I would love it.

Check out Honeywell’s app-friendly stat in the video below.

Apple’s technology is infiltrating my industry whether the rest of my colleagues like it or not.  In the Engineered Systems article I mentioned earlier, I read about how HVAC technicians are now using iPads in the field to research parts, download schematics, using estimating apps and going “paperless” with electronic invoices.   At my day job, our engineers are now using iPads for their buildings Re-Commissioning services.  Then just yesterday I read an article about a thermostat in USA Today.  “A thermostat made headlines in USA Today?”  This little device they call the “learning thermostat” is made by Nest and has Apple sex appeal:  Sleek, advanced, smart and just way too cool (no pun intended) to be in my industry.  But its no wonder it favors an Apple product.  Nest is a new start up company in Silicon Valley, and the company co-founder, Tony Fadell, formally worked at Apple.  He led the team that created the first 18 generations of the iPod and first 3 generations of the iPhone.

Check out the Nest thermostat in the video below.

Steve Jobs didn’t personally create these new thermostats, but it was his vision that has lead us to this technology.  His iPhone that included “apps” started the domino affect to endless possibilities for how we exchange information.  The look and feel of Apple products have forced even the thermostat market to become more visually appealing…we now expect that as consumers thanks to Apple.  And if alive today I can assure you the Nest or the Honeywell RedLINK would be in Steve’s home.  Second thought, he may even have a true “Apple” thermostat that hasn’t hit the market yet.  Hey, there’s an idea: the iStat.  You heard it here first.

It’s because of his quest to be “insanely great” Steve Jobs made Apple the most successful brand in the world.  As you look around your business, how are you using Apple products for your business?  Write me, I would love to hear your company’s “Insanely Great” moments. Whether you using Apple products products or not, tell me your success story and the dent you are putting in your industry.

Remember the little 4-year-old on the iPad I mentioned earlier?  Well, turns out his father owns an orthopedic business.  When the iPad came out, he purchased a 100 of them for his sales reps. They now take pictures, instructions, tutorials and much more straight to the surgery room to assist their doctors.  The use for the iPad is limitless.  And now we in the HVAC business are Apple friendly and moving our business forward.

Here are a few of Steve’s classic quotes:

The only way to be satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

Don’t settle.

Stay hungry.

Stay foolish.

And one more thing…         – Steve Jobs

Thank you Steve.  As your friend and nemesis Bill Gates said, “You will be insanely missed.”

If you want to know more about the products you’ve seen in this edition of Mechanical Matters, give me a call.

(Please, commercial businesses only)

Jimmy Veteto

Building Consultant, LEED AP, Director of Business Development 

Ewing|Kessler, Inc.

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here or go to

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Team Green Zone


Author: Jimmy Veteto 

Renewable Energy, Climate Change, Cap and Trade, Sustainable, LEED, Solar, Wind, Alternative Energy, Fossil Fuels, Carbon Footprint, Green, Greener, Greenerer…  These are buzzwords.  Buzzwords that most of us in the ‘buildings business’ have heard more than we care too.   Is going green not cool anymore?  With the winter storms this year, I think the global warming crowd lost center stage to the economy, NBA Playoffs and Charlie Sheen.  The reaction I’ve received of late from building owners about “going green” can be compared to the likes of comedian and rotten tomatoes.  Sure, everyone agrees that recycling and being good stewards with our home planet is a good idea.  But come on it’s 2011…let’s get back to important things like the economy.

The most “green” a business can do is become more energy efficient with their building.  More than green cleaning products, more than recycling, more than removing cars off the roads and more than renewable energy, reducing energy consumption is the fastest way to go green and save GREEN!  Sure, you have probably heard this before.  Go green, save green, blah, blah, blah….  But don’t quit reading yet.

In this edition of Mechanical Matters, I want to share a valuable resource that can start reducing energy consumption in your building immediately.  No not going to try to sell you some magic box that will make all your energy bills go away.  I want to introduce you to a local non-profit group here in the greater Memphis area that is helping businesses reduce energy consumption in their buildings, and keeping costs at a minimum.  The group is called Team Green Zone, and they are the “Energy Efficiency Department” of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to the creation of Team Green Zone, John Threadgill (President) and Clay Banks (Director of Economic Development) at the Bartlett Chamber had been inundated with calls from their members inquiring about “energy efficiency”.  So finally they decided to do something.  The decided they should hire someone who could help Chamber members and the greater community of Memphis to lead this new department.  That person is Clayton Poff.  Clayton has extensive background with the EPA’s Energy Star program, former electrical contractor, and vast experience in maintaining buildings.  But he couldn’t do it alone.  With limited resources of a non-profit organization Clayton reached out to business professionals in the private community to assist.  Soon a board of trustees was created and “Solutions Providers” such as contractors, service providers and vendors joined the effort of Team Green Zone.

Companies like Ewing|Kessler, A2H, CBRE and Pathway Lending pulled all their resources to help Clayton and the Chamber.  And this is what TGZ does:

  • Energy Efficiency Benchmark (EBB)
  • Facility Assessment & Recommendations
  • Energy Efficiency Project Development Reports
  • Project Implementation
  • Project Recognition

I have outlined each step and described this process, which is proving to be the most economic and streamlined approach for energy efficiency for buildings.

“Businesses that invest strategically can cut utility costs 10%-30% without sacrificing service, quality, style or comfort.”  -Energy Star™ Small Business.

1.     Energy Efficiency Benchmark (EBB) and/or Preliminary Audit

For benchmarking your building, Team Green Zone enters your utility information to produce an Energy Star™ score.  This step measures the performance of your building against the database of peer facilities.  For our preliminary audit, we conduct an audit of your facility to determine if we can develop a project that meets your financial criteria.

2.     Facility Assessment & Recommendations

Once the Benchmark and/or audit is complete, the next step is the Assessment.  In this step we will determine energy efficiency measures, set goals and define the financial requirements for an Energy Efficiency Project.  Our assessment will focus on a staged approach: Operations & Maintenance,
Occupational Behavior,  Controls, Lighting, HVAC and Building Envelope.

3.     Energy Efficiency Project Development Report

Upon completion of the Benchmark and Assessment TGZ will prepare and present the Energy Efficiency Project Development Report.  This report provides all the recommended projects, their value, the ROI (return on investment) and incentives.  All of the energy savings, operational savings, utility incentives, tax incentives, financing and NET present value will be shown in this report.  This step will prove most valuable when making a decision to implement a project.

 4.     Project Implementation Once the Energy Efficiency Project Development Report has been evaluated and approved, project implementation will begin.  Within Team Green Zone are pre-qualified  Solution Providers made of contractors, engineers and vendors for your consideration and acceptance.  Please note, that it is not mandatory that the Solution Seeker select only Team Green Zone’s affiliated Solution Providers.  Team Green Zone, the Bartlett Area Chamber and their affiliated Solution Providers only serve in an advisory role unless the customer asks that we step out of the advisory role into project implementation.  All Solution Providers are listed on TVA’s Preferred Network and screened by our Board of Trustees to ensure quality products and craftsmanship on all Energy Efficiency Projects.  The Board of Trustees and Bartlett Area Chamber will prevent vendors and contractors (Solution Providers) to contact the customer during Benchmark, Assessment and Development Report Steps.  Team Green Zone understands that building owner’s have a job to do.  It’s TGZ’s job to put you on the path to sustainability with as little disruption to business as possible.  The “Solution Seeker’s” information will remain confidential at all times.

5.     Project Recognition Upon completion of an Energy Efficiency Project in your building, Team Green Zone will be your partner moving forward for recognition of your achievements such as (but not limited to): Our Team Green Zone – Green Hard Hat Award, Energy Star™ Certification and Plaque (Energy Star™ certified buildings must have a score of 75 or higher), local press/publication of your Energy Efficiency Project.

Team Green Zone automatically gets your company involved on both the national and state level as an Energy Star™ Challenge participant and the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3).

Working with business professionals, engineers and consultants in the private community, Team Green Zone has put together an “all-star” cast to perform and at the lowest costs.  Team Green Zone provides a win-win for everyone by connecting the Solution Seeker with the Solution provider AND helps the economy in our community here in the Greater Memphis Area.

I have served as an advisor on many other “Energy” or “Green” affiliations in the past, but like most the end result was a list of recommendations, manuals and best practices. What makes Team Green Zone different is they take an energy efficiency recommendation to implementation.  For more about Team Green Zone, please give Clayton Poff a call at (901) 730-2503.  TGZ is your resource to put “green” back on the bottom line.  AND one more thing:  If your building’s HVAC, lighting and or roof is beyond its useful life and in need upgrading, Team Green Zone can capture all the energy benefits and incentives to maximize your savings and reduce capital costs.  See the example below.

Call Team Green Zone Today!

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development, Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here. And be sure to check out my website

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What we can learn from Toyota.


Author: Jimmy Veteto |  Editor: Lisa Henderson

On SNL’s (Saturday Night Live) March 13th airing, they ripped Toyota a new one with the hilarious reenactment of a Prius going out of control. Cast member, Kenan Thompson, was driving the accelerator-stuck, green machine as it crashed through the woods all the while cussing the car at the top of his lungs.  I laughed uncontrollably.   Toyota is really taking it on the chin as of late; so bad that my 8-year daughter made me “pinky-promise” her that I would ‘never ever, ever’ buy a Toyota.  I asked her why, and she said “because I love you daddy and I don’t want you to crash.”  YES Toyota, your PR has been that bad.

To some this story may already be ‘old news’…we are more concerned with the oil spill and economy than we are with Toyota’s problems; however, there are huge lessons than we can learn. All of us in the business community have been affected by the down turn economy, but like Toyota we can’t focus on the past. We must look ahead to the light at the end of the tunnel…just as long as that light is not the head lamps of an out of control Prius!

Most failures or financial set backs in today’s economy are unforgivable. All of us have whined about the competition at some point.  [“They are doing the work at cost!”]  That is a dangerous game to play in my industry and for contractors one false move while operating at ‘break even’ highly increases safety concerns and major financial risk. But what happens when your business takes a step back due to a product failure like Toyota?  For most American businessmen and women, failure comes with risk and sometimes that’s part of the game we play.

Jonathan Ortmans, writer for writes:

“The United States enjoys a longstanding belief that failure is merely a pit stop on the way to success. Thomas Edison conducted more than 10,000 failed experiments before turning on the first incandescent light bulb. Milton Hershey faced three unsuccessful starts before satisfying the American sweet tooth. Even Steven Jobs confronted failure when Apple fired him from the company he created—only to welcome him back to transform the marketplace once again, this time with the iPod and iPhone. Unfortunately, similar stories are far too infrequent around the world. Failure—and the economic growth that its lessons stimulate—is not an option in every culture.”

In Japan, many of your large corporations and the government employ most Japanese workers. And in these large corporations such as Toyota, they too embrace the business philosophy: ‘failure as opportunity’. Which leaves me, wondering ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Toyota will survive.  Even though most of us have already forgotten about the floor mat sticking Prius’, the Toyota brand is in serious trouble. After recalling, correcting, dropping prices and dropping interest rates, people still aren’t buying.  Why?

At a press conference following the first Toyota recall, CEO Akio Toyoda didn’t take the initial recall as serious as maybe he should have.  His presence and demeanor suggested that he had scoffed at traditional Japanese business ethics, and thought we Americans had blown the whole thing out of proportion.  Just before the press started with questions, Akio Toyoda addressed everyone with a mere 40-degree bow.  In Japan the bow is a very important and sacred means of respect and humility.  The lower the bow the more humble and respectable one is to his foremost audience.  Due to present circumstances and the future of Toyota automobiles, everyone expected the full 90-degree bow called the ‘saikeirei’, which exemplifies the fullest veneration or humility. Shortly after the press conference Toyota mandated a 60-degree bow minimum for employees.

Why a lack of respect on Akio’s part?  Has Toyota become too arrogant? The half hearted or half-bow would suggest so.  Peter Brown, Publisher of Automotive News suggests that Toyota is experiencing what is called ‘big company disease’.  Peter was quoted numerous times on the recently aired documentary about Toyota’s failure entitled ‘Total Recall’ on CNBC. Toyota’s success had become the blueprint for manufacturing across the globe, so the documentary proclaimed. In the beginning, Toyota’s growth was rich in Japanese tradition and whose foundational building blocks are quality, quality and quality.  But in the past decade, their fast growth and success had soon become a recipe for greed.

To give some indicator as to just how successful Toyota had become, let’s compare them to the world’s largest automaker GM.  In 2007, Toyota profits had reached 14 billion while GM was facing 39 billion in losses.  Toyota would soon surpass GM. They wanted to be number one…bad. And the birth of the little green machine called a Prius, driven by Hollywood stars such as Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Gosling, would soon get them to the top spot.  But all the success, race for number one and riding the ‘green’ wave would all come to a screeching halt as the 911 caller died behind the wheel of an accelerator stuck Prius. By now most of us have heard the horrifying 911 call from California on August 28th, 2009…a day that would forever live in infamy for Toyota.

Time will only tell their survival, but before you toss out Toyota’s problems with yesterday’s news, I beg you not to miss this lesson of humility.  Toyota is still working on a final resolve for the sticking accelerator, but not after 8 million cars had been recalled. For folks like Peter Brown, Toyota’s failure would be due in part to the 50% increase in manufacturing in just 5 years. A growth that would be unprecedented for most manufacturers let alone automakers.  Whatever the solution is to repair the accelerators and rebuild the Toyota brand, CEO Akio Toyoda must go back to basics. This failure is an opportunity…an opportunity to refocus on the original success of Toyota, which is quality, quality and more quality. Now is the time for Toyota to redeem, and humble themselves before their core client base. It’s time for the ‘saikeirei’ bow…the full 90 degree bow. Failure is just another pit stop to opportunity.

Unfortunately in this economy very few are experiencing ‘too much success’ as did Toyota before August of last year.  Many of us have been in survival mode. Buried deep in the nightly news transcripts below the latest American Idol updates, NBA playoffs and the oil spill in the gulf, there are stories of businesses succeeding against all odds. They are turning their own economy around. Those companies are those who have focused on ‘quality, quality and more quality’ at a fair price. Those companies are also those who view failure as an opportunity.

Just as Toyota mandated the 60-degree bow for employees during this ‘setback’, we too must mandate humility and respect in our own business ethics.  We must focus on quality, humility and honesty.  And when failure happens, whether it’s a product or deal lost, or tenant moves out, remember this:  A true entrepreneurial economy can thrive only in a culture that allows people to make mistakes, learn and try anew.  As Henry Ford once said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Wrap Up:

So what can we learn about Toyota? I take away three things:

  1. Toyota built their empire on three things: Quality, Quality and Quality. They (As we say in the South) should, “Dance with the one that brung ya.” They need to switch their focus on being the best not the biggest.
  2. Humility. In business there are ups and downs. Taking the top spot from GM was a major ‘up’ for Toyota. But getting to the top is not the hardest part…it’s staying there. And to be at the top, you must learn humility. For Toyota this starts with the mandatory 60 degree bow. The next time CEO Toyoda is faced with such a travesty press conference, I am sure we will all see the full 90 degree ‘saikeirei’.
  3. Failure as Opportunity. Back to the basics for Toyota. They should embrace Japanese business ethics and treat this unfortunate event as an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

I am confident that Toyota will be back. If I know anything about Americans it’s that we have short memories…and we suck at history. I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Mechanical Matters.  Yes, not much was said about the mechanical industry or buildings, but as businessmen and women reading this article there is much to be learned from Toyota.  I know I needed to hear it.  My article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include some humor…thus the video below.   I stumbled across this video on Twitter (follow me @jimmyveteto). In the video an American family has used their Toyota SE mini-van as the hook line of a rap called the ‘Swagger Wagon’. The rap and video is very well done and considering Toyota’s rep right now, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to embrace this video and pay to have it played across national television.  The American family would appreciate the humor and the subliminal message implying that Toyota is a safe and quality made vehicle for a family.  Enjoy.

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development, Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here. And be sure to check out my website


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The Gloves Have Come Off!

Volume 4, | Issue 2

Author: Jimmy Veteto

One of my favorite movies is Cinderella Man, the true story of James Braddock.  He was a boxer from Hell’s Kitchen New York, who grew up just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden.  His legendary life was one of great inspiration and will forever live in boxing history.   In the early 1930’s, his career hit an all time low right in the middle of the Great Depression.   Having to take a leave of absence from boxing, Jim humbled himself to work the docks as a longshoreman.  He even accepted government relief money, but unlike everyone else he paid his money back.

Because of multiple injuries to his fighting right hand, Jim had to rely on his left during his longshoreman work, which eventually became stronger.  When most fighters would have thrown in the towel, Jim fought his way out of the docks and back to the ring.

Surprising his opponents with a strong left, his secret weapon.  He won a few fights despite his critics who all had given up on Jim.  But despite the Depression and few broken bones, he never lost his courage to persevere and fight.  If you have seen the movie or read the true story of James Braddock, you too were encouraged by one of the greatest fighters of his time.  Jim’s love for boxing, but more importantly his family, gave us all inspiration for generations to come.  Check out the music video tribute to the “Cinderella Man” below then keeping reading:

Today in America, work has been a little harder to come by these days.  It appears that we are coming out of the so-called ‘recession’ but there are plenty of those still without work.  During such times the best or worst of people really come out.  Those who have an attitude like ‘The Pride of the Irish”, Jimmy Braddock, know how to survive when their back is against the wall…for those who don’t they can only talk smack.   As Jim’s opponent Max Baer did before the boxing match that will forever go down in history.

Max Baer, the then World Heavyweight Champ, chose to fight Jim for some quick cash.  The ‘Chump’ as Max called him would be an easy win for the loud mouth, ladies man who was favored 10 to 1.  In the days leading up to the fight, Max started talking smack.   At a press conference Max looked at Jim’s wife and said, “Your much to pretty to be a widow.  Maybe I can comfort her after he’s gone.”

Mankind hasn’t changed much since the Great Depression.  No matter if your facing Max Baer in the ring or your biggest competitor across town, the weaker opponent always resorts to name-calling.  We saw this behavior on the playground as kids, and we still see it in the business world.  I have seen it myself this summer.  Sure we all want to blast the competition from time to time.  I would love to say things like, “Oh you are using XYZ Mechanical?  I hope it’s not true about the owner’s child molestation accusation.”  Yeah the temptation has been there for me more times than I can recall.  However, I bite my tongue.

This summer, one of my competitors patronized one of my best customers.  This particular customer and I have been partners for 5 years.  During these five years, we have gotten to know each other very well.  I am very familiar with his business, what makes them money and what is most important to them.  He on the other hand, knows our company in and out.  He knows many of my technicians by name and I his wife’s name.   He and his company have been very faithful to me over the years and because of his faith, I would do anything to keep him loyal…it’s a true partnership and a win-win for both of us.  However for the first time in five years he has questioned our relationship.

I received a call from him and he was concerned about an issue in his building.  We responded to his need and soon we discovered that our competitor just left the facility.   My customer has had an ongoing issue with this one cooling system, and he needed a band-aid quick.   We have discussed replacing this system due to its age and on going problems many times.  But because of the economy and tight budgets, and a loud mouth competitor talking trash in his ear, he called them instead.  The temporary fix to the unit was satisfactory but ultimately the problem returned.  When I approached my customer he could hardily look me in the eye.

A few weeks later we were back out on the roof and the trash-talking competitor packed up his tools and left.  When budgets are cut and business is down, most people respond much like Max Baer.  They start talking trash.  They become insecure and instead of putting in the hard work, they take the lazy way out by slamming the competition.   I have found that method to backlash every time.  When I heard all the nasty things this particular competitor said about our company and myself, it was all I could do to bite my lip.  However, I was reminded about Jim Braddock who bit his lip and later let his fist do the talking.

Most of you reading this have competition too.  Maybe you are a property manager whose occupancy has dropped a little this year.  You may be in retail, sell cars, real-estate agent, business owner, or maybe you are one of my vendors.  I know its tough out there, but please do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut about the competition.  Yes they are dogs and they always seem to stand between you and the next sale or house note.  BUT don’t do it…keep your negative thoughts to yourself.  Trust me if you let your fist do the talking your commission and your company’s bottom line will ultimately win.  Oh, and one more thing.  Your competition could be someone else in the office trying out for the same promotion as you.  Uh-huh…same rules apply to you too.

Some of you are probably asking yourself right about now, “If you we can’t slam the competition with our mouths, then what should we do?”  Well we asked ourselves that same question, and it has paid off in more ways than we could imagine.  You need to make your “What Makes Us Different” list.  At my day job, we sat down and put our ‘list’ together.  Before you know it we were so pumped up that we all hit the streets and shared our list with every one who would listen.  No, the list didn’t say things like, “We can too, but we’re cheaper”.  Please…I hate those type of salesmen.  Be specific.  Your lists of services may be longer than the competition.  Your delivery time could be the fastest in town, but you haven’t told any body in a while.  Get creative.  Who knows your left hand could be a bit stronger because your right hand could be overplayed.  Shake things up a bit and who knows you could surprise the customer, your competition and even yourself.  Jim Braddock did.

On June 13th, 1935 at Madison Square Garden, Jim Braddock stepped into the ring with Max Baer the 10-1 favorite.   They went all 15 rounds, and the “Pride of the Irish” Jimmy Braddock won by decision.  If you haven’t seen Cinderella Man, then pick it up this week.  Have your kids watch it with you.  It’s a great lesson of hard work, dedication and love.  And the next time you have an opportunity to bad-mouth the competition, remember this story.  Instead, out work them, out think them and let your ‘What Makes Us Different’ list do the talking.   And when you do, the gloves will come off and you too will win by decision.  Check out the last five minutes of this infamous fight below.  (Max Baer is the one wearing the star on his trunks)

For more helpful tips go to my “Customer Service” edition of Mechanical Matters by clicking here.

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development, Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 

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Business Value in Tree Hugging.


Author: Jimmy Veteto |  Editor: Jeff Whitlock

If you had purchased $1,000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago you would have $49.00 left.  With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00.  With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.  But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have $214.00  cash.  This is called the 401-Keg plan.

Obviously I am not one to give financial advice.  However, if you have been watching the stock market lately, this ‘joke’ makes more cents than most stock brokers and financial advisors on Wall Street.  Now more than ever business owners and managers are watching their money.  They are squeezing  cash tighter than Joan Rivers’ face.  Energy costs are rising, operating budgets are shrinking and for the first time in American history, the Canadian dollar is worth more than ours.  What are we to do?

No, I am not going to tell you who to vote for. Personally I don’t think McCain or Obama has a magic wand strong enough to repair our economy any time soon.  We would be better off with Harry Potter’s magic wand, or Joe the Plumber’s magic plunger…I wish they were on the ballot.  We could just sit around, feel sorry for ourselves, and listen to country music.  George Strait has a song entitled, Ready for the End of the World. In the song, George prepares for the worldly end times by buying a case of Jack Daniel’s and box set of Merle Haggard CDs.  I don’t think it’s that bad.  And no, I am not going to suggest drinking heavily, but if you do – don’t forget to recycle.

With all the government bailouts, home foreclosures, rising energy costs, war and company layoffs there is plenty of doom and gloom going around these days.  As an optimist, I generally can put a positive spin on just about anything.  So here I go again: It’s budget time and 2009 is looking like a make or break year.  If you are a business owner, building owner or manager, I would make darn sure that every capital dollar budgeted is invested in sustainability.  For a definition of sustainability, go to my glossary at

Here in Memphis, we have already been warned about the 20% energy cost increase.  If this is news to you, then you’re stupid and should be fired. Was that a bit much?  O.K….let me try again.  If you don’t have access to a T.V., newspaper or computer, live in a cave, don’t socialize, BUT you’renot stupid – consider this your final warning: MLGW WILL RAISE YOUR UTILITY COSTS 20% STARTING IN OCTOBER 2008!

The presidential candidates are encouraging federally mandated caps on green house gas emissions and there is much debate talk on energy independence.  While corporate America is slow to adapt, just watch the continuous rise of energy costs, and you will see capitalism at its best.  As business owners reach deeper into their pockets to pay they local utility company, more will their business philosophies change with the world around them.  No longer does the green party, hippies and hemp wearing environmentalist have the monopoly on ‘tree-hugging’.  Some business owners are seeking the ‘Business Value in Tree-hugging’. Take IBM for example.  They have the best commercials on television right now.  Check out the video below:

During tough times, smart businesses and corporations, like IBM, are in state of constant awareness and plan for the future in order to survive during tough economical times.  One of my mentors is Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant.  He once said, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” As a building owner, operator or manager, how are you preparing to win?  How are you planning next year’s budget to survive a down turn economy, rising operating costs and  what is your plan for sustainability?  In 2009, will your operating costs and capital dollars be invested or digested?

As a building consultant and mechanical contractor, my job is to help advise my clients on expensive investments to their property.  Some want to know the ROI on their investment, however many are still looking for the cheapest price from three different contractors.  In the movieArmageddon, Rockhound said, You know we’re sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? Commercial HVAC equipment is not as complicated as NASA’s shuttle program nor is there the nuclear potential.  BUT your mechanical systems do contribute anywhere from 60-70% of the overall energy consumption in commercial buildings. So why go cheap when your energy costs are your business’ largest controllable cost?

As we hold our breath during another election year, an unstable economy, rising energy costs and falling stock market, don’t put off the needs of your building’s comfort needs.  There are many ways to invest in the overall life, reliability and sustainability of your mechanical equipment…even when operating budgets are vulnerable.  Don’t break out the booze and country music just yet.  I have seen tremendous success with energy efficiency projects, system replacements and retrofits that positively affected cash flow.  The mechanical industry is changing at a pace faster than the Jamaican running team could keep up with.  Every week trade magazines and news articles fill  my inbox with green products, improved technology, higher efficieny equipment, building controls and environmentally friendly materials. Don’t fall victim to conventional ideals, dated technology and dated equipment.  Don’t digest your hard earned capital and operating dollars…invest.

Your doctor would tell you the importance of regular physicals.  I would tell you that the same philosophy applies to your building.  When was the last time you had a second opinion of your mechanical systems efficiency?  Have you ever considered an energy audit?  What is value of ‘tree hugging’ in your business?   These are important questions as you plan for 2009.  Just as a doctor could detect a potential illness at your next physical, so would your building’s comfort needs benefit from a professional’s opinion.  Call us, we can help.

Jimmy Veteto, LEED AP

Business Development at Ewing|Kessler, Inc. 

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here. And be sure to check out my website and all of S.M. Lawrence’s service by going to

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