Joseph Scala isn’t your typical HVAC guy — and not just because he sings the National Anthem at more than 100 sporting and charitable events a year.
“I’m very new to HVAC,” said Scala, a commercial sales and marketing manager with Monroe Equipment.
Basically that means presenting options for heating, ventilation and air conditioning for multifamily systems, like senior living and condos, to architects, construction companies, developers and engineering firms.
But doing that meant quite a learning curve for Scala, who spent most of his 25-year career in sales and advertising for office and craft supply companies like Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Staples and, most recently, a tissue and toweling dispenser manufacturer.
“Monroe is certainly a departure from some of my prior experiences,” admitted Scala, who two years ago joined the Menomonee Falls-based company, which is also building a new facility in Oshkosh.
“We were kind of the proverbial match made in heaven; they liked the background I had in sales management and planning without a lot of biases and preconceived notions, being set in my ways about the industry.”
Fortunately, Scala is a people person who loves to learn.
“I just love working with the people. I like learning about their businesses, figuring out how to address some of their challenges, how we can help them. I’m a lifelong learner. I’ve always been driven by that.
“It ties back to the performing,” Scala added. “I’m kind of a natural performer, and it’s something I really do enjoy. I like the challenge of walking into a conference room and having eight of them waiting for you.”
A singer since high school, Scala spent his college years singing Rush, Van Halen and other rock ‘n’ roll covers three or four nights a week. But, after graduation, he pretty much set singing aside.
Then, around 2008, the Wausau Chamber of Commerce asked him to sing for their Night of the Woodchucks event.
“It was kind of a fluke,” Scala said. “… But a couple people recorded it. Videos got around, and people started calling. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Since then, Scala has sung for the Green Bay Bullfrogs, Lakeshore Chinooks, Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Woodchucks and Timber Rattlers.
But the pinnacle was a University of Wisconsin basketball game at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“A sellout crowd, 17,500 people, that was really an amazing experience. I’m a fan. I got to see the bowels of the stadium, meet the coaches,” Scala said.
When he’s not working games, Scala also sings at 5K walk and run events, as well as veterans’ and military remembrance ceremonies.
“From an excitement standpoint, the big sporting events are unbelievable. But memorial performances are so meaningful. There are these 75-year-old tough guys with tattoos in veterans’ hats, and they’re balling and they want to hug you. And it’s like, ‘I’m just a dope who can sing a song. You’ve lost friends.’ It’s very humbling.”
Scala’s community involvement extends beyond the microphone as well. He’s also an unofficial mentor for the dozens of students he meets at college sporting events, chairman of the Alzheimer’s Association Walk in Appleton and a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, which recently named him a community leader ambassador for their “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign in the Fox Valley.
“I’m a big believer in giving back,” Scala said.
That and earning his credentials as a bonafide HVAC guy.
“There’s so much to learn and so much to know, and you can always know more,” he said.
The Daily Reporter: When you have a bad day, what keeps you coming back to work?
Joseph Scala: Commitment to the team, my own personal drive and, I would say most importantly, the thing that has always driven me is making my parents proud. Everyone has adversity, but I have always been driven by being someone who makes my parents proud, whether I was 5 years old or 25 years old or 55 years old. It’s not quitting to me. That transcends Monroe Equipment.
TDR: What is the most useful thing you’ve learned since starting your job?
Scala: I’m not a career HVAC guy. There’s so much to learn every day, but there are so many resources at Monroe.
TDR: What do you wish you’d learned sooner?
Scala: Everything. You can always have more product knowledge and experience. I’m a voracious reader. I always want to learn more. I want to learn as much as I can as fast as I can.
TDR: What do you consider your biggest achievement so far?
Scala: Biggest achievement I’ve done is being a loving, devoted son to my parents. That is, by far, to me the most important thing. Unfortunately, both my parents are gone. So now I’m first and foremost a husband and brother. That’s the Mount Rushmore of what you should be. When I hit the pillow, that’s what really matters.
TDR: What can you spend hours doing that’s not work-related?
Scala: Three big things in my life I love to do: I love the singing. I love the running. And I’m also a very avid tennis player. I’ve taught tennis for many, many years. I have a great passion for it, probably as much passion as singing for some of the charitable causes. I’m also a huge newshound following current events. I know a lot of people get aggravated but I could click between CSPAN, CNN, Fox News 24 hours a day.
TDR: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Scala: A funny answer and a serious answer: I would love to have a little more height; I’m 5-8, if I was 6 foot that would be great. On a professional level I do think that would help, too. If I could, I would do that. Also, learn more, always asking why. I always want to know more.
TDR: What are you craving right now?
Scala: I just want to know that my wife and my sisters are OK. I’ve got two brothers, as well, but I don’t worry about them as much. But I want to know all those close to me are loved and happy.
TDR: Which famous person would most like to have a drink with?
Scala: With this question worlds collide with my love of business, my love of sports, my love of politics and my love of music. For music, I have to pick between Frank Sinatra, Robert Plant and Elton John. For sports, Rafael Nadal is my favorite tennis player. In business, Jack Welch or even Donald Trump, for that matter. Regardless of ones stripes, I’d certainly be interested in talking with him. But if there’s one person I could have a drink with, it would be Ronald Reagan. Just having a beer, talking about things. I’d love to talk to him about what he was thinking with the speech at the Berlin Wall, those big fork-in-the-road international situations that change history. He would be my choice, very grudgingly because if I could have drink with Rafael Nadal my heart would burst out of my chest — in a good way! It would be quite the agonizing decision.