February 2018

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Skip FreemanEMAIL INTERVIEW – Skip Freeman and Ken Sinclair

Skip Freeman, CEO and Managing Partner of Smart Industry Careers and “The BAS Recruiter” (

Skip has 15-years of experience in recruiting sales and technical professionals in HVAC, manufacturing, and industrial automation. Six months ago he and his team honed-in on Building Automation Systems (BAS) with a unique value proposition focused on training and retention which is discussed below.

How “The BAS Recruiter”

Helps you Recruit, Train, and Retain People

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SinclairSkip, give us a brief on your background and how you got into recruiting.

Freeman:  First, from both my athletic and Army days, I became a firm believer that training gives you a competitive advantage in winning business, serving your customer base better than your competition, and in your ability to recruit, hire, and retain great people (giving you long-term sustainability).

As a mechanical engineer, I served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, followed by industrial/manufacturing roles, dealing most often with HVAC systems. After having been part of two companies that were sold, I decided to become an entrepreneur. So, like many in the contracting and systems integration world, I started my own business.

SinclairOf the many businesses you could have started, you started your own recruiting firm. Why recruiting?

Freeman:  In the Army and in industry/manufacturing, one quickly learns that you get more and better things done through strong teams. I wanted to help others build strong teams through a well-defined process of recruiting, hiring, and retention.

SinclairHow did all of this morph into BAS?

Freeman:  Our recruiting has always been in HVAC and industrial automation. Over the last 2-years, with the growth in IIoT, we have honed-in on “smart industry” and, in particular, “smart buildings” (a.k.a.

SinclairWhat do you see as the biggest challenges in hiring BAS people today?

Freeman:  Retention first and foremost, followed by hiring and recruiting.

SinclairWould you unpack that for us?

Freeman:  Certainly. Let’s progress from recruiting to hiring to retention. Small to mid-sized business (SMB) firms don’t have the resources to staff big HR departments with a dozen “talent acquisition specialists” like large firms. Nor do they have fully staffed training departments. But going beyond SMB’s, just this week at the AHR Expo, even two large firms told us they couldn’t find enough good people.  One very well-known firm stated, “We are leaving revenue on the table because we can’t find enough good people!

First, on recruiting. Not only is the demand for talent outpacing supply, but there are also 3-numbers about the talent pool that are important.

Next, hiring – the most critical aspects are hard (technical) skills and cultural fit.

Finally, retention – what keeps a BAS professional around? Candidates often tell us that training and continuing education are as important as money (and sometimes more so) because they feel valued, challenged, and since you are investing in them, they, in return, are willing to give back more to you. 

SinclairWhat benefits does training bring to the employer?

Freeman:  Four things.

SinclairHow is it possible that a recruiting firm helps with training?

Freeman:  Partnerships.

We have partnered with two professionals who have deep knowledge of HVAC and BAS. One is Phil Zito (

Any firm that hires a candidate from “The BAS Recruiter” will receive, for both their candidate and their hiring manager, 1-year free access to Phil’s online training platform (vendor agnostic) and forum.

Current online courses (with more under development) are:

(Soon these courses will be certified to provide Continuing Education Units.)

○    BAS Design
○    HVAC
○    BAS Installation
○    IT
○    Electrical
○    System Integration
○    Sequence of Operations

○    Advanced Troubleshooting BACnet in Wireshark
○    Honeywell Grey Manual walkthrough
○    Systems Integration
○    Commissioning
○    Energy Management

contemporary Additionally, custom training programs can be developed for your firm if needed.

Our second partner is Debbie Forcier-Lynn ( Debbie has extensive experience in the HVAC industry helping companies define their culture and assessing “cultural alignment” with new hires. She is a certified leadership coach.

As part of our hiring process, we assess your culture and the candidate’s style to increase the probability of a good fit.

SinclairAny concluding thoughts?

Freeman:  By bringing together the deep reach of “The BAS Recruiter” into the talent pool, assessing cultural alignment with Debbie’s expertise, and providing extensive BAS training from Phil, all as part of the process, we can help you hire stronger employees, develop them further than your competition can, help you retain them for the long haul, empower you to serve your customers better, and ultimately achieve greater revenues and higher profits.

As one person once asked, “What happens if we train our people and they leave?

To which the reply was, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?

Ken, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you and the AutomatedBuildings audience.


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