Despite what Mike Rowe will tell you, “Dirty Jobs” aren’t an excuse to stay dirty. So says Butch Welsch, Owner of Welsh Heating & Cooling in St. Louis. In an op-ed piece featured in Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS, Welsch wrote how “disturbed” he was in the professional appearance — or lack thereof — of contractors and employees during evening functions he had recently attended.

Welsch was disheartened to see a large number of the people he came across wearing jeans and t-shirts that were either torn, covered in dirt or both. He doesn’t propose changing clothes several times during the workday, but maintains that service techs and contractors should change out of their dirty uniforms when representing their companies at an evening function.

Welsch’s dismay isn’t limited to attire, either. Vehicles are another part of a company’s first impression, and Welsch said, “I was at a stop sign the other day and next to me was an HVAC truck that I thought had just finished an off-road race. First some of the lettering was peeling off, and the truck was just filthy.”

Some good points are made about a company needing to make a good first impression, and that many customers will balk at the idea of letting someone into their home whose clothes and shoes are caked with dirt. Also, if it looks like a vehicle hasn’t been well taken care of, what does that say about the maintenance and care that employee will provide for the HVAC system they’re installing or servicing?

However, Welsch is coming at this from an owner’s point of view, and owners generally don’t care about the details, they just want things done the way they want them done. But that’s easier said than done in some cases. How much time did the contractors and employees have between getting off work and heading to the functions Welsch was attending? And isn’t it the owner’s job to pay for things like the lettering on company trucks?

It probably goes both ways: employees need to take extra care of their appearance whenever possible, especially during networking events filled with people from all walks of life, not just tradesmen. Company vehicles should be washed regularly, and any caked-on dirt and grime on things like boots or jackets should be cleaned as to not give the appearance that the employees in question can’t keep their workspaces clean. But owners and managers need to provide the guidance and resources to make this happen. Make it clear that cleanliness is something to always be strived for, and be proactive in terms of keeping vehicles looking up to date and workers in uniforms that aren’t torn or stained.

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