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Culture of Respect: Quality First, People Always

Learn More About How Setting Expectations Around a Company’s Core Values and How They are Continuously Reinforced.

Andrew Moreno, President of Able Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., strives for a “quality first, people always” approach in everything that comes with his company. But it was not always this way. When Moreno took over his father’s company, he stressed the person he wanted to be, personally and professionally. It took many failed attempts in the workplace to find something that felt right. With the help of his team, they discovered that one of their core values is respect. Able Heating and Air Conditioning strives for three types of respect: giving respect, receiving respect, and self-respect.

Moreno mentioned that he does not believe that signs or posters in the break room are effective because they become passive over time. This is one of the reasons he participates in onboarding each new employee. In this first interaction, Moreno sets expectations not only for the employees but also for himself. This is where their core value of respect comes into play. He dives into how each person at the company should give respect, be open to receiving respect, and, most importantly, have self-respect. Moreno emphasizes change, “I tell them it was common fifteen years ago to work through lunch, but it’s a form of disrespect to you and your body by not taking a break.” He also encourages each new hire to “Not jump on board, touch it, feel it, taste it, and try it out. You get to choose.” Moreno acknowledges that not everyone is comfortable at first with this type of work environment, so he wants his employees to think about it and become active participants in all forms.

Although Moreno avoids motivational posters, there is one message that each employee wears on their left sleeve. In a meeting, an employee mentioned a story of a man in a crowd. The man jumped and wailed his arms around. Slowly, a few others joined in, then a few more, and finally, the crowd began to create a wave. The crowd crescendoed, but that same man stayed in his seat the next time the wave came around him. Because he remained seated, the people beside him did, too, and the wave immediately ended. It showed how one person was capable of starting something and ending something. So, each employee wears “WAVE” on their left sleeve, and when asked what it means, they can tell the story of the man in the crowd and explain that it stands for “We All Value Each other.” Moreno also tells this story in his onboarding meetings with each new employee to help show how each person, regardless of their title or position, can start or end something in their company.

Able Heating and Air Conditioning emphasizes respect for all new employees and continues to reinforce it with messages like “WAVE.” But Moreno repeated that this is neither finished nor perfect, “I don’t want culture to drive itself. We have made a point to build something and want to continue that.” Because of the changes that Andrew Moreno, his leadership team, and each employee made, they have created a company that Moreno is exceptionally proud of and excited to tell people about.

Megan Sawchek