How Constantly Learning Protects FM Jobs, With Dan Holohan

by Aug 22, 2016Routine Inspections

Annmarie Bhola is a former engineer and the owner of Enhanced Building Solutions, LLC – EBS is committed to transforming the culture within the building industry through training and leadership.

I was never an A student in high school or in college. Only my math and science classes helped me graduate with a decent GPA. Something about problem solving and fixing things was pretty cool to me. Give me a challenging math or science problem and I’d stay up all hours of the morning trying to solve it. Give me a book to read…and it was my cure for insomnia.

Since reading put me to sleep, after fighting to finish college in exactly 4 years, the last thing I wanted to do was read another book. But in 2003, a fellow SUNY Maritime alumn, my new boss, gave me Dan Holohan’s The Lost Art of Steam Heating.


At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of continuing to educate myself; I felt after college, I was done! It’s only now that I understand to value advice from successful superiors. I remember him telling me, “You need to treat this book like an engineer’s bible.” It was great advice.

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking to the legendary author of that masterpiece. Today, Dan Holohan shares his knowledge and insights at (where you can also purchase any of the 18 books that followed his initial signature piece).

In our conversation, he reaffirmed how vital it is for all facility maintenance professionals to constantly keep learning. He also shared his own personal struggles with learning and explained how common it is in our industry:

“When I was in my 20s, I learned that I had a condition called dyscalculia. It’s similar to dyslexia, but it applies only to a person’s ability to work with numbers and concepts that substitute one thing for another, such as learning Spanish. I still can’t do basic math”

He added:

“Many contractors, writing under pseudonyms, admit that they are dyslexic, and that this is what drove them into the trades in the first place. The trades are tactile. It’s also why many contractors don’t read instructions. They can’t read well. Consider that most manufacturers use engineers to write their installation manuals. It then becomes a matter of trying to explain clouds to fish.”

Not all tradesmen/tradeswomen have learning disabilities of course, but because everyone learns differently, many can’t effectively communicate their ideas. In the building industry, this usually leads to management undervaluing operators and engineers. Their work goes unnoticed, and they end up unappreciated.

Some people in the industry are actively working to fight that problem.

Even though I no longer work for LogCheck, I support their product because it does just that: It gives operators the ability to have a voice.

Dan said “I compensate for my lack of math skills by using pictures, which, I think, is what makes me a successful writer. I can explain things without using equations.” This reminded me of LogCheck’s photo feature. A picture says 1000 words, taking that burden off of the engineer.

Listen to our full interview here:


People in our industry don’t often share their struggles, so I’m sharing this story with all of you. Know that your jobs are important!

It’s also absolutely necessary to do rounds. Unless your building is one that may exist in the future with sensors covering every inch of it,YOU are the sensors! Operators are the eyes and ears of a building, plant, or facility. We’re not aesthetic plastic surgeons who focus on the pretty exterior; we are practical and logical thinking folks.

We are internal medicine doctors of buildings who are concerned with the inner workings of mechanical systems. Our skills are in demand and necessary. Building rounds provide the diagnostics and require trained people.

If you always keep learning, and you diligently document all of the work that you do, you’ll make yourself irreplaceable. Those two things will do more for job security than anything else.

If you haven’t read The Lost Art of Steam Heating, you need to pick it up. I promise, you will learn something you didn’t know before. If you have a copy, read it again.

Superstars can be created with the right tools, proper training, and determination. If you are interested in advancing your career with an online national certification in HVAC please visit And if you’d like to try LogCheck, simply fill out the form on this page to schedule a free trial. 

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