The CEFGA CareerExpo led Sam Parris to his job as an HVAC technician – a job ‘I absolutely love’

Sam Parris never knows what a workday is going to bring. As an HVAC service technician for McKenney’s, Inc., Sam is dispatched daily to customers around Atlanta’s northeast perimeter and beyond.

But there’s one constant in his work: “I return people’s lives to normal,” he says.

And he finds tremendous satisfaction in that.

“I’m fortunate to do something I absolutely love,” says Sam, who was hired after meeting McKenney’s personnel at the 2016 CEFGA CareerExpo and SkillsUSA State Championships.

“I really enjoy having direct contact with customers, where I’m not questioning whether what I’m doing is really valuable to the person who’s paying the bills. I know it is, because I get to interact with them, find out what their need are and take care of it.”

Sam hails from Gillsville in Hall County, where he grew up on a 70-acre farm. As a
homeschooled student, he says he had leeway to experiment with mechanical things in addition to his regular courses of study.

“I enjoyed tinkering,” he recalls. “I had this mechanical tendency and I was always finding some outlet for it. So any kind of equipment – refrigerator, microwave, weedeater, lawnmower, whatever it was – I was tearing it apart.”

Encouraged by a brother who preceded him in the HVAC industry, Sam enrolled at Lanier Technical College, graduating with an associates degree in 2016. That same year he competed in the SkillsUSA State Championships and won a silver medal in HVAC.

While exploring the CareerExpo, Sam was intrigued by McKenney’s, a longtime sponsor of the World of Heating and Air Conditioning exhibit. He asked questions, gathered contact information, followed up and had a job within two weeks.

He returns to the CareerExpo each year to represent the company in telling students about HVAC careers. He also was part of a panel discussion of former competitors at the 2017 CEFGA VIP and SkillsUSA Champions’ Breakfast.

His advice to students pondering their career options? “Find something you can do well and that you enjoy doing, then pour everything you have into it,” he says. “And take mistakes and obstacles and realize there’s always something you can learn from it. It makes you stronger and it prepares you. Focus and do what’s required and you’ll see it pay off.

“You don’t always have to follow the conventional path,” he continues. “I chose this career for its path. I talked to engineers, I talked to doctors, I talked to lawyers, friends of mine who had done those things, and I came to the conclusion that it’s not for me. I want this. I knew I wanted this. And it’s been very rewarding.”

Looking back on his career to date, Sam says it’s “been a neat journey and progression” and has “gone by like five minutes. To get up in the morning, pull on your uniform, get in your van, put your tools in and go to a job that you really love, that’s worth a lot.”

Many of Sam’s customers are hospital accounts. He remembers one job in particular that represents the kind of satisfaction he gets from his work.

“The whole steam system had gone down – sterilization, everything,” he says. “There were about 15 guys and we were all trying to get it fixed. It was a stressful moment. To be able to start from what’s wrong, find out what’s needed, put the puzzle together, and an hour later, they’re back up and running – just to hear that sincere ‘Thank you,’ to see it in their eyes, it meant a lot to me.”

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