A dream came true with the formation of Contractors 2000.

Many of you may have received the following letter in the mail; it was sent to thousands of PHC contractors. I think the message is important enough that I would like to share it with everyone else.

Dear Progressive Service Contractor,

For those of you who know me personally or through my "Business of Contracting" seminars or writings in Plumbing & Mechanical magazine, you know that I am not prone to exaggerations. I believe in sound business management practices and I insist that every penny a business spends be accounted for and justified.

Thus, it is my sincere belief that there is no single act that could potentially improve your net profits and market penetration more than becoming a member of Contractors 2000 Inc. I say this with 100 percent conviction, because Contractors 2000 is allowing our membership to do exactly that at a rate unheard of in this business.

You see, I have been a contractor since 1960 and have seen changes in this industry that leave me dizzy. For those of you too young to remember, there was a time when public utilities only sold energy and left the service and sales of appliances to contractors -- can you imagine! There was also a time when home centers were called lumberyards and the only plumbing products they sold were cheap foreign trinkets no self-respecting homeowner would purchase.

Just like today, we had contractors who didn't have a clue as to their true cost of doing business and they undercut the market daily. Unfortunately, today the price spread between the educated and uneducated contractors has grown much greater than in years past. This has made it increasingly difficult to make a fair profit, which I consider to be 20 percent net and up. This is in line with many other sectors of the business world, such as fast food restaurants and cosmetic companies, that generate such profits and more, yet contribute less than we do to the good of society.

Until about five years ago, these incredible changes left me with doubt as to the long-term viability of our great profession. I consider myself and my company, Blau Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, to be fairly adaptable, but it was becoming very difficult to maintain our margins.

Many days I thanked God that I had the opportunity to develop a sizable estate before the era of Home Depot and contractors selling their labor for as much as $80 per hour less than Blau Plumbing. My blessings, however, were tainted with fear for my children being groomed to take over my enterprises. I feared they would not have the same opportunity God granted Frank Blau.

Those who know me know that I have never run from a challenge. I have stood up to manufacturers who have deserted our trade. I have taken issue with contractors who have accused our industry's leaders of profiteering just because they reached a level of profitability comparable to other professions.

It was this sense of challenge that led me and 16 close friends to seek a solution. In late 1992, we formed an organization that would assist its members in capitalizing on this new marketplace rather than suffering from it. This organization, Contractors 2000, would have a very specific goal -- to increase our members' net profits and market penetration, period. It would not engage in legislative activities, code activities and many of the other things trade associations do. Those are legitimate activities, and many of our members continue to participate in them through other trade associations in which they remain active. However, we felt that C-2000 could not afford to dissipate its resources. We needed to focus solely on the educational function, which too often gets neglected.

Have we achieved what we set out to do? I think the growth of C-2000 speaks to our success. As of this writing, 151 contractors from the United States and Canada are members of Contractors 2000. They are making money at a rate unseen before in our industry. Many members had toiled in their business for decades with little reward, and are now taking home personal monetary compensation in six figures. They are receiving tools for their business that I used to dream of, but was unable to receive while I was growing my business.

Do you think you can achieve the business success you deserve without the assistance of Contractors 2000? If so, more power to you. Most of you, however, need the helping hand we can provide.

Can you write an operations manual with the secrets of proven business success documented in black and white? Can you duplicate the industry's best sales training regimen for your technicians and telephone personnel? Can you continually devise new marketing plans that will make your phones light up with service customers? If you are able to do all this and still run your business, God bless you. It's not impossible to do it all by yourself, just as it's not impossible to climb a mountain without sophisticated climbing gear. The task merely becomes incomparably harder.

The bad news is that some of you who might want to join C-2000 won't be able to. That's because when we put together our bylaws, we assigned exclusive territories on a first-come, first-served basis. Word is spreading, and we have reached a stage where we are now turning down about as many membership applicants as we sign up. As our membership continues to grow, fewer and fewer open territories remain.

Before it's too late, take a deep breath and do like I did -- join with the industry's most progressive service contractors to help create a future for your business that is bright with promise. (To see if your service area is still available, call Lisa Shinstine, membership sales consultant of C-2000, at 651/426-2000, fax 651/426-0821.)

I have no economic interest in recruiting new members for C-2000. My only reason for extending this invitation is personal satisfaction in helping my fellow contractors. In my opinion, joining C-2000 is the best move you could make for your business.