Conditioned Air Company of Naples is proud to announce that William “Shorty” Sander, a Field Supervisor, is celebrating his 50th anniversary with the firm.
When Sander started his career in the Service Department at Conditioned Air on July 24, 1968, he earned $1.75 per hour and was one of only a dozen employees. Today, Conditioned Air is the area’s largest air-conditioning contracting and service firm with nearly 350 employees throughout Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties.
“I found something young in life that I love to do,” he said. “I like doing this and experiencing something different almost every day. That’s why I’ve stayed here so long.”
Born in 1947 in Fort Myers, Sander is a descendant of the pioneering Hendry family. He recalls getting the nickname “Shorty” as a teenager from a neighbor who commented on his stature at 5 feet 1 inch tall. His height would change after joining the U.S. Navy, where he grew an additional 11 inches in three years. Nevertheless, the nickname stuck.
It was a friend who later encouraged Sander to join Conditioned Air as an Apprentice doing “whatever needed to be done.” Sander notes that technology was much more simplistic than it is today and employees now have to obtain technical training before going out into the field. “Back then, if it blew cold air, it was doing all it could,” he said.
Sander stays up to date on current technology and ever evolving government regulations by working 12-hour days and continuously studying online at home. He credits the job with keeping him physically and mentally fit and insists he has no plans to retire just yet.
By staying with the same company for 50 years, Sander is defying the odds. According to a 2016 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.2 years. It is further estimated that the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during their entire career.
Most days, you will find Sander out in the field mentoring and teaching younger employees. He also is out interacting with customers who specifically request “Shorty.” It is estimated that Sander has handled more than 100,000 customer calls during his tenure. In many cases, those customers are the sons and daughters of original property owners.
“If you travel around the more established parts of town, Port Royal and Old Naples, everyone there knows him,” said Theo Etzel, III, Chairman of Conditioned Air. “He has built a tremendous reputation and they know they can trust him to be honest with them.”
Sander cites his daily interaction with customers as a primary reason for staying in his job well beyond what many consider the traditional age for retirement. He also acknowledges the stability of Conditioned Air for his longevity with the organization. Founded in 1962, the Naples-based company has had only three owners over the years.
Among the many industry honors and recognition Sander has earned over the years are the Pioneer Award from the Southwest Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association.
“I have never been a quitter,” Sander said. “I look at this job like a marriage. I made a commitment to this company and I still love what I do. Why would I want to change?”
Conditioned Air offers local expertise in light commercial and residential HVAC systems, including design, engineer, estimate, installation and maintenance of new construction, refrigeration, indoor air quality and dehumidification systems. For more details or to schedule service, call 239-643-2445 or visit www.conditionedair.com.