Co-op’s Perspective: My first few weeks…

As a second-year mechanical engineering student from the University of Cincinnati, and a first-time co-op, I didn’t really know what to expect when it came to my role at Melink. I had never heard of Testing and Balancing (T&B) before, and I had very little experience with HVAC systems. However, as I have gotten through my first few weeks at Melink, I have felt very welcomed and learned so much. After only a few weeks of work, I feel like a new member of a family, and my whole perspective about the HVAC industry has broadened.

Coming to work on the first day, my knowledge of HVAC in general was very limited. I understood the basics like heating and cooling, but there were many things that I just didn’t have a clue about. For example, I didn’t know that a low air pressure inside a building could not only negatively affect the building, but the business inside it as well. I learned a low building pressure can lead to problems such as the suction of unwanted air through passage ways into the building, low quality air, uncomfortable temperatures inside, unwanted debris sucked in through opened doorways, etc. These unwanted, but all too common problems lead to uncomfortable and unhappy customers inside the building; which ultimately leads to a loss of business. Now I understand how important it is for a business to get a T&B.

I also learned about our customer base. I thought we mostly serviced restaurants, but quickly learned that our customers expanded way beyond just the food industry. In addition to the restaurants, we service companies in the healthcare, technology, education, bank, fitness, and vehicular industries. Also, I found out you don’t just need a T&B on old buildings, but new buildings require them too. All new facilities require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) prior to opening. In order to obtain that, they must have a T&B stating their HVAC is set to the engineer’s specifications. The T&B provides the building owner with the knowledge that their facility was built properly and is operating per design. Thus I learned no matter the industry, everyone needs a T&B!

In just a few short weeks, I have gained so much knowledge and insight into the world of HVAC. When I started here, I was really worried about first impressions, making mistakes, and not fitting in. However, the Melink team quickly made my worries subside. They provided a very welcoming, fun, and family-oriented environment. I have learned so much from the friendly team. They let me to engage in the daily routine of the T&B team and really engulf myself into the business. So far, I have really enjoyed my time at Melink. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me here.

To Own Is To Serve

In 2010, Melink started a friendly competition called the “Good to Great Awards”, inspired by Jim Collins’s book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”.  The goal was to challenge employees to give their best, be innovative and make Melink a great company and sustain our goals year over year.  In typical Melink fashion, we had several employees rise to the challenge and set the tone for the next 10 years.

We knew this was good, but can we make this friendly competition great?  2012 began a new approach and we transitioned to an healthy competition that focused on delivering quality products and services and continuously looking for ways to improve.  Now we were asking for employees to take ownership and responsibility to support our vision, mission and values.  Over the next few years, great ideas were born:

  • Blowing Things Up
  • Insanely Great Service
  • Purpose with Passion
  • Sow to Grow
  • Act Like a Start Up
  • Attitude is Everything

This year’s competition focuses on stewardship by an individual, team, or collective group displaying an example our newly defined core competencies and our values. Everything that we do is built on Integrity, Service Excellence, and Innovation, and this past year we have decided to take it a step further by adding six core competencies that we believe all of Melink employees should portray.

Just as we do every year, we have an abundance of nominations already. Our employees are proud to be able to acknowledge someone else’s hard work and drive that makes Melink a better place, both for our employees and for our customers. A sampling of the nominations we have received this year include:

  • “Not only does he ALWAYS do a fantastic job on all the projects he works on, he looks out for the development of the other technicians”
  • “The tech worked on a site and took the time to explain what he was working on to the onsite personnel. This did not go unnoticed, Melink was sent a glowing thank you email from the GC.”
  • “She has been above and beyond nice to me, even helped me out when my car was in the shop Monday by giving me a ride to and from work.”
  • “He has persevered through probably double the workload than he previously had. Every engineering need from the sales team has been met with timely, quality results.”

In February 2020, we will honor the winners at our annual company meeting.  It will be difficult to select a winner, but we know from this competition Melink will continue to strive for Greatness and continual improvement.

PositiV and Test and Balance: A one-two punch to sick building syndrome

Sick building syndrome is a condition that affects a building’s occupant due to unhealthy factors in the work environment primarily associated with poor ventilation and airflow in the facility. Per the EPA, symptoms of Sick Building syndrome include acute discomfort such as headaches, dry skin, coughing, dizziness, and nausea. Despite all these symptoms Sick Building syndrome can go undetected for years as the symptoms are all relatively minor and occur over multiple years.

With the release of Melink PositiV™ earlier this year, facility managers can now remotely diagnose and asses 4 of the key building metrics that contribute to building health. These include CO2, relative humidity, building pressure, and temperature. By ensuring these 4-building metrics are within acceptable ranges facility managers can sleep well knowing that they will be able to monitor and track if their facility is showing early signs of sick building syndrome. This can empower the end user to act and stop the early patterns that can lead to numerous issues down the road.

You know it is time to act when one of the 4 measurements are outside of the recommended limits. A primary way of attempting to correct any of these issues in a facility is to have a test and balance to reset airflow to the engineered design plans. During a test and balance, existing issues are identified and corrected to allow for proper airflow into the space. Through this process the technician should be examining and resetting the outside air dampers at the facility to allow the building to receive the correct amount of fresh air. The combination of monitoring and acting on the data allows end-users to ensure comfortable, healthy and energy efficient facilities.

Meet Jon Sawyer, Account Engineer

Business Unit and Job Title

T&B Account Engineer

What does your job entail?

It’s a moving and evolving target but basically It can be anything from job quotes and technical analysis to site investigations and customer inquiries.

What is your personal philosophy?

Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff, do your best with what you’ve got.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

I was an Aircraft Mechanic for Delta Airlines.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

The great people here.

What do you like to do in your time off?

I used to enjoy skiing and anything to do with being in the woods. I’m working on getting back to that point!

What are you most proud of?

My Flag, My country, and my Kids!

What are your hopes for our industry?

That the world continues to evolve and see the reasoning, value, and absolute necessity of the things that we stand for and provide.

Employee Ownership Month

The ESOP Association and its member companies celebrate Employee Ownership Month every October.  An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a benefit plan that gives workers ownership interest in their company.  The employees do not buy the stock, there is no cost to the employees, and it is not a part of their compensation plan.  According to The ESOP Association: “An employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is a retirement plan—in some ways similar to and governed by the same laws and regulations as a 401(k). In other ways, ESOPs are quite different from 401(k)s.  When companies launch an ESOP, they form a trust that purchases some or all of the company’s shares and holds these in retirement accounts for employees. When the stock value increases or decreases, so does the value of employees’ accounts.”  Various studies and surveys have linked ESOPs to higher returns, greater productivity, higher sales growth, and greater likelihood to survive as compared to conventionally-owned companies.

Ownership creates a unique incentive and motivation for employees to do what they can to help the business be successful.  Imagine the collective power of not just one or just a few owners, but every employee thinking and acting like owners, invested in the company’s success and all pulling together toward that common goal!  The more they do to grow sales and profits, and there are often a countless number of small actions every day which can do both, the more value they directly put into the company… and into their own retirement.

Owners generally think and act differently than non-owners.  Consider how you treat something that you rent versus something that you own.  Perhaps a rental car.  A home or apartment.  A tuxedo.  Or some other property.  Most people will give extra care and attention to the things they own themselves.  They see things in context of the bigger picture and the long-term, not just the here-and-now.  They recognize and appreciate the importance of customer satisfaction.  They see the value in maintaining healthy and collaborative relationships with co-workers/co-owners.  They display a more positive attitude.  They make decisions that are best for the company, not just best for themselves.

Melink became an ESOP in 2018 to create an additional retirement benefit for employees, to share success among all employees, and to reward employees for their efforts to grow and support our business’s success.  The ESOP also allowed us to maintain the company’s independence as a green-energy focused business.  Our ESOP is viewed as a long-term, wealth-building plan that provides each Employee-Owner with an equity stake in the company.  Employee ownership very much complements our company culture and our core values of integrity, innovation, and service excellence.  Even though we only recently became employee-owners, we have always had that owner-mindset.  Ever since I started with the company 23 years ago, I can remember our founder, Steve Melink, encouraging us to “think like an owner”.  Owners make decisions that are in the best interest of their customers, their employees, and their business.

Whether or not your company is an ESOP, how do you perform your job duties?  Like an owner… or like a renter?