Q&A with Mike Rapp

By | 06/12/2015

Meet Mike Rapp, president of Binsky & Snyder Service – a leader in providing mechanical contracting services to the high concentration of technically sophisticated industrial and commercial clients in the Northeast. As a third-generation service provider, Mike is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges and opportunities the industry has faced since the beginning of the HVAC industry. We asked Mike about his experience, and learned about the essential role MSCA has played in his professional development.


Q: What sparked your interest in the industry?
A:
I got involved in the industry as a very young child because my family had a plumbing business in Brooklyn, New York. Back in the 1960s, I didn’t know anyone who had central air conditioning in their house, so I never dreamed of having a career in HVAC; I always assumed I’d go into the plumbing business like my father, or law enforcement like my brothers. 


Q: What shifted your career trajectory to HVAC?
A:
It had to do with timing. When I graduated from college, we were in the middle of an economic depression. At that time there weren’t many avenues to get involved in law enforcement, and I realized I liked to be involved in the technical process of things—I love working with tools. I got a job right out of school with a small company designing refrigerated warehouses. At this job, after we designed the refrigerated systems, I’d go out and install them all. Here, I realized I liked working in the field much more than my work in the office.


Q: What is your experience in the industry?
A:
I worked my way from doing residential work to large commercial offices and warehouses. I’ve only had three jobs since I’ve been in the industry since leaving my family’s company: the refrigeration design company, the small residential firm that transformed into a large commercial contractor, and my current employer, Binsky and Snyder Service , where I’ve been for 23 years.


Q: What brought you out of the residential into the commercial side of mechanical contracting?
A:
The challenge of being able to take equipment from different manufacturers and have them work together to deliver air and water to a building so it’s comfortable for its occupants or can be a viable solution for a manufacturing process. Can you take chillers, boilers, valves, pumps and controls from completely different manufacturers and get all this equipment to work together in one process that is safe and comfortable? It’s a challenge, and it’s fun to tackle.


Q: How did you get involved with MSCA?
A:
I became involved with MSCA accidentally. I was first a member of ARCA, Air-conditioning Refrigeration Contractors of America, in New Jersey. ARCA members were absorbed by MSCA, and I attended an annual conference.


Q: How did your relationship with MSCA grow?
A:
My loyalty to MSCA grew out of the first conference I attended. It was an annual conference, and my first reaction was “wow, this is a bigger pond to play in, and there are people from all over the country with similar business challenges . . . I’m not alone!” The education component was a tremendous opportunity for people at my company. Even before MSCA GreenSTAR, there were so many resources for training and education that made networking easy. From my first MSCA conference I made friends with people from California, Washington and Vancouver—it is amazing that, to this day, MSCA’s annual conference still has the reach to bring people with different backgrounds and similar challenges together to find solutions. There is so much value in having a peer group you can bounce things off of.


Q: You’ve seen the industry from beginning to now. Where’s the industry going?
A:
Hindsight is 20/20. What I’ve seen since I’ve been in the industry is that the industry has been evolving the entire time. We haven’t hit a plateau yet, and the industry is still evolving. To me, it looks like we are heading toward total physical plant management. That means you become a steward of the physical plant for your client; you’re actually responsible for its operation, maintenance and endurance. You’re looking at the regulation compliance, the licensing, and having the documentation the client needs so they can run their business.


Q: How do you succeed in today’s market?
A:
I have three points:

  1. Stay involved in your industry. Be passionate and know it inside out. Seek out people who are much smarter than you are, and ask as many questions as you can.
  2. Do the same thing with your customers. Always ask, never tell.
  3. Surround yourself with good people.

 

Q: What’s one piece of advice you have for other contractors?
A:
Get connected with other industries outside of your own. I’m a member of ASHRAE; it has a great technical resource. Don’t focus only on the inside of your industry; get inside other industries and try to understand how your industry relates.

 

The GreenSTAR program was established in 2007 by the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA), the nation’s leading trade association for HVACR contractors, providing education, marketing and labor/management services to assure its members deliver quality performance, value and expertise for all building system needs.