Who I Am and How I Got Here...

Hi!  I’m Trish Holder and I make a living writing interesting copy about HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning) and other mechanical equipment.  Keyword:  Interesting.

After 20 years of being “niched” in this highly specialized area of writing, I’ve learned a thing or two about what contractors, engineers, and end-users find interesting about mechanical equipment.  I’ve also gotten very good at translating what others may consider bland or painfully technical information into educational, meaningful, and (dare I say) enjoyable content. 

My clients appreciate me because I make their products and applications sound more interesting than even they thought possible. Trust me – even ductwork can be sexy to the person who uses or installs it IF you find the right hook.  And because I’ve been doing this so long, I don’t waste my clients’ time with questions like, “What does LEED stand for again?” or “What exactly is a desiccant wheel?”

I’ve interviewed countless engineers, contractors, and end-users. I’ve explored mechanical rooms from coast to coast. I know what kind of heating system lies beneath the Minnesota Viking Stadium and how the Bellagio casino and resort controls the environment inside its onsite greenhouses so that it can produce year round flora.

My brain is full of the most amazing, little known facts – like how elevating the temperature of water during the incubation period of Alaskan salmon eggs will result in certain, unmistakable rings around the fish’s ear bone.  Useless information?  Not if you are part of the Alaskan aquaculture industry and use these rings to track and compare the survival rate of salmon from various hatcheries. And certainly not if you make or sell the control equipment that helps maintain this high precision temperature control. The very best part of my job is discovering key facts like this that help differentiate my clients' products and solutions.


It’s true, I didn’t exactly spring from the womb knowing I wanted to write about HVAC equipment.  As an English major at the University of North Carolina in my hometown of Greensboro I knew two things about myself:  I wanted to earn a living as a writer and I didn’t want to teach.  Honestly, I was pretty flexible after that. I knew what I was good at and if I ever did decide to write (er… uh… finish) that novel or screenplay, I knew I could do it on my own time.  My first priority was to make a living.

Unfortunately my graduation just happened to coincide with a recession and entry-level writing positions were few and far between. So for the first few years after graduation I was either un- or under-employed. But between writing some print ads and radio commercials for a retail store, getting a part time job at an ad agency, followed by a marketing job at a small publishing company, I finally pieced together enough experience to land a job as a marketing director for large HVAC representative company. 

Suddenly I found myself surrounded by about a dozen or so hard-boiled, independent HVAC salesmen who (at first) regarded me as a waste of time and profit. They didn’t know what to do with me so they tossed me into the deep end of the pool and dared me to swim.  

It was a challenging and occasionally combative environment. But I liked the freedom that came with finding my own way and I was determined prove myself to those salesmen. So I hounded them for information, shadowed them on sales calls, and studied tons of technical documentation about pumps, boilers, etc.  Little by little I began to understand how a basic commercial mechanical system works and how the HVAC industry operates and goes to market.  

An HVAC Writer and Communications Consultant Is Born

While working at the rep firm, I learned that I could dig deep into a painfully technical topic, absorb it, appreciate it, and spin it so that others might appreciate it as well.  I started cranking out brochures and other collateral material for my employer.  I organized and promoted training events; I wrote training scripts; I published newsletters; I even got a few articles published in trade magazines, generating some pretty impressive publicity for the rep firm.  The salesmen decided I wasn’t so bad after all. 

Manufacturers started to notice and compliment my work. A few even hinted that I should start a freelance business maybe I could write for them, too. Meanwhile, I was aching for more flexibility and more independence.  I was deeply grateful for the experience and connections my job had afforded me and I had developed a respect and fondness for my colleagues... but I wanted to be on my own.      

In 1996 I bid a bittersweet farewell to that colorful and cantankerous crew of HVAC salesmen and started Trish Holder, Marketing Communications.  Since then I have built a steady client base of primarily HVAC manufacturers, but also reps. I attend AHR and/or Greenbuild each year to prospect new clients, meet with current clients, and see longtime friends. 

I live and work in Greensboro, NC, with my extraordinary husband of 20+ years, and our very nearly grown son and daughter.

While my kids are still a little bit “fuzzy” on what Mom does for a living, my career has very much shaped how we live and not just by helping pay the bills. In 2007 we built the Piedmont Triad’s first LEED certified, single-family home – an experience I have spoken and written about widely.   

In an effort to educate other homeowners about the triumphs and challenges of green building, we opened our Greenspiration Home for numerous educational events and tours. Our home was featured in print and on TV and I was personally invited to speak at numerous meetings and conferences, including a prestigious environmental conference at Vermont Law School. Years later people still frequent the Greenspiration Home blog where I candidly shared my experiences building a green home and invited others to do the same.

I live and work from my soon-to-be empty nest (sniff...) green home today!