As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Bingham, President, Residential HVAC & Supply, Trane Technologies.
Jason Bingham is president of the Residential HVAC & Supply business for Trane Technologies. In this role, Jason has full responsibility for the strategy, operations, innovation and performance of the company’s residential HVAC equipment, and HVAC parts and supply business. Since 2017, he has led significant growth for the business, while building a high-performance culture.
Since joining the company in 1991, Jason has held roles of increasing leadership responsibility. Prior to his current role, he contributed to the company’s success as a commercial district manager, territory vice president, Trane Commercial North America strategy leader, and vice president of digital and energy services for the Commercial HVAC North America and European business.
Jason serves as the executive sponsor of the company’s Latin America Employee Resource Group (GOL). As an active community leader, he has also served on the boards of Roanoke City School Board, Mill Mountain Theatre and Second Presbyterian Church. He is currently a member of the Carilion Clinic executive board.
As a Virginia Western Foundation Board member, Jason helped establish Roanoke City’s Community College Access Program (CCAP), which enables high school seniors meeting academic and financial criteria to attend Virginia Western tuition-free.
Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
After earning my engineering degree from the University of Tennessee, I started working for Trane as a sales engineer. Although I enjoyed my engineering classes, I realized I was not made to be a designer and needed to be out with people. I really enjoyed that sales role and the company has put up with me there ever since. Personally, I love the HVAC industry (great people and community) and the customer-centered culture we have at Trane.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I think of mistakes I’ve made in my career, the story that comes to mind isn’t actually when I first started. Five years into the job, I ordered the wrong thermostats for a very large project. While it wasn’t at all funny, it made a lasting impact on my career. Watching how the team around me stepped in to solve for the issue and quickly meet the customer’s needs taught me humility and the importance of strong, trusting relationships.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The first book that really inspired me to be a great leader was “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The book spoke to the focus on people to get business results. Since then, I have read just about every leadership book I could find. Other favorites include “The Speed of Trust,” “The Oz Principle,” “Decisive,” “Habit,” “Good to Great,” “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” “Influencer,” “The Road to Character,” “The Fifth Discipline” and “Innovators Dilemma.” Every one of these books has insights that can help leaders improve.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started with your company what was your vision, your purpose?
A core theme of many leadership books is start with the WHY before the WHAT. Simon Sinek made a career out of it. Once I finally figured that out, we’ve since led everything in our businesses with our purpose.
For Trane Technologies, our shared purpose is around challenging what’s possible for a sustainable world. We’ve made bold sustainability commitments that touch every facet of our business — from operations, to supply chains, to employee and community development. It also includes what we call the Gigaton Challenge — our goal to reduce our customers’ carbon footprint by one gigaton (or one billion metric tons of CO2e) by 2030. Approximately 15% of the world’s carbon emissions come from the heating and cooling of buildings, and we can solve the problem through our own actions and partnering with others. In the residential business, we’re also meeting these commitments by reducing our environmental footprint, contributing to the Gigaton Challenge through programs like refrigerant reclaim, and partnering with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to make a positive difference in our communities.
From a team perspective, we also build out purpose statements together and then lead with it. For one business, it was about creating a legacy. In another, it was about making a real difference for others. The point is the buy-in from the team, which meant 100% commitment to make it happen. It’s less about my vision and more about our shared vision to truly lead with purpose.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Speed of trust. Amazing things can happen at a very rapid pace when a team has a strong level of trust. And trust is most tested in the challenging times. Which means, leadership is most tested in the challenging times. When we’re challenged, our true priorities and values come to light. If our stated values match our actions in these times, teams will thrive.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
COVID-19 has been and still is impacting and challenging all of us, and my heart goes out to family, friends, teammates and all who have experienced loss or hardship. For me personally, COVID-19 has been both a challenge and a blessing. My mother-in-law, who is in memory care, had to leave her facility during the pandemic and then go under quarantine for 14 days, which was difficult for her to understand. From a blessing perspective, my two daughters have been home and my son and his wife come in to town most weekends. Even with restrictions and following distancing protocols, we’ve had more family time than ever before.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We are deeply committed to protecting the health and well-being of our teammates and their families while meeting the essential needs of our customers during this global health crisis. This means implementing robust safety protocols and COVID-19 response plans across all our locations — encompassing everything from physical changes in our plants that ensure distancing to behavioral changes for all of us, including health screening and personal protective equipment.
We are also committed to protecting the health and well-being of our customers, which means minimizing contact. We’ve implemented different solutions like curb-side pick-up of parts and equipment, and utilizing remote diagnostics to monitor and check data on how a HVAC system is running.
For me personally, my days are full of conference calls that start early and go late, whether they’re about meeting the essential needs of our customers, business planning for our changing environment or ensuring we’re doing all we can to support our employees and their families. I have learned to take 10-minute breaks to just “breath.” I have also leaned on the power of our team. As mentioned earlier, it is in the challenging times that teams are tested, and I could not be prouder of how our team has responded.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
COVID-19 will accelerate behaviors that have already started. Behaviors like online shopping, having everything delivered, purchasing the latest gadget that makes life easier, working from home and hosting virtual meetings. It’s important to watch how you and others are using tools to get things done in this new environment. Recognize how it feels and if it is already “mature.” If you like it and it works well, it will accelerate. And if it is different than how you did it in 2019, those industries/tools/services may be in trouble. How can you get ahead of the acceleration by maturing the approaches and products within your business?
For the HVAC industry, COVID-19 is accelerating an already increasing consumer awareness of indoor air quality (IAQ). In the residential space, IAQ solutions, like Trane CleanEffects®, Whole Home Air Filtration System can provide powerful filtration. Humidifiers, dehumidifiers and ventilators also improve the indoor air quality of the home. These are all things we are thinking about.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
Perhaps more than ever before in recent history, there is a growing need for sustainable, reliable climate control and healthy air solutions — especially as homes become remote working and learning spaces. Although there are still unknowns about how the COVID-19 virus spreads, we do know that proper design, installation and maintenance of HVAC systems are key to maintaining healthier and more efficient built environments. We are focused on taking care of our people, serving our customers in innovative ways and putting our technology to work in service for our communities. Learning, responding quickly and providing new innovative solutions are critical to rebuilding and growing a resilient community and business.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I believe there are two types of leaders. One that creates teams that HAVE to and the other that creates teams that WANT to.
I walked into leadership thinking leaders had all the answers needed to direct their teams. I was wrong. Leadership is about developing other leaders and building teams that are aligned, well supported and passionate about what they do and why they do it.
How can our readers further follow your work?
If readers are interested, they are welcome to read my book “Cultureship: The ABCs of Business Leadership”. It goes deeper into my personal career path and process. I also invite readers to follow Trane Technologies’ latest news stories and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN and Instagram channels.