After discovering that college wasn't his calling, Jason Lawrence "just fell into" the HVAC industry when he was in his "late teens, early 20s."
He blindly applied to local sheet metal fabrication company Kaempf & Harris, a division of R.W. Warner, based on his grandmother's suggestion.
"I didn't know what I was going to be doing," he laughed. "I just went and applied."
In 1997, he started his first HVAC job.
"I took some classes in the evenings...and I got my licenses," he recalled. He earned the State of Maryland HVACR license as an apprentice and Universal CFC Certification from Frederick Community College.
He worked as a sheet metal mechanic for five years, then transitioned to another company as a service technician. After another seven years, Jason decided that he "wanted to get away from being on the road so much."
He was hired at Fort Detrick for mechanical and industrial projects, which allowed him to gain new experience in commercial work while honing old skills like theories.
Warner offered the proper balance of daily flexibility between office and field work that Jason was looking for. As an added bonus, the team environment was one of his favorite aspects of his current position.
“I knew it was a good company when I was [at R.W. Warner] before," he said. "They treated us well. The people that I work with, they're...good company."
After more than a year of working for Warner Service, Jason realized that the honesty, expertise, and reliability of the team is unbeatable.
"One thing I really, really like about Warner is that they completely stand behind what they do," he said.
"I have a belief in what we do that when we do a job for somebody, if something doesn’t work out for some reason -- rather than putting it back on them -- we do take care of it. We stand behind our work."
Part of his job as commercial accounts manager includes talking to different people, and he hears compliments from lifelong customers, too.
"After we do service for somebody and they've use us for years, most customers...won't go anywhere else, or they've been other places and they see the difference.
"You can't last 80 years without doing right by your customers."
Not only does Warner Service do right by their customers, the company is highly supportive of its employees.
"I've only been there a year, and they're already sponsoring me for a race."
Jason will don a technical shirt with Warner Service's logo during the JFK 50 Mile on Nov. 18, 2017 in Hagerstown. About 1,250 runners are given a maximum of 13 hours without listening aids or race companions to complete the course.
It all began as a part of Jason's weight loss journey in 2013. His daughter's dance class hosted a 5K fundraiser that Jason said he would run if his friends and family participated.
"That was kind of laughable at the time," he recalled. "But I went out and did a mile, two miles. I felt like I accomplished something."
After that, a friend recommended that he sign up for a 5-mile run on Thanksgiving. Jason checked that off the list, and then proceeded to run a 10-mile race in March 2014.
"He said, 'Well, if you did 10 miles, you can do the half marathon.'"
Jason completed a half marathon in May 2014 and tried his first full marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, in Arlington, Virginia, during October 2014.
"I didn't finish the first one, but I did go back and later finish that race" in October 2015.
"Now I’ve got my sights set on a 50-mile race."
For his longest race yet, Jason's main goal is to simply finish.
"My goal is to go out there and finish," he said."I have a secret goal that I'm not telling anybody, but I'll just be happy with finishing it. I don't plan on [placing] in the top percentage or anything."
Between raising two young daughters and a full-time job, Jason gets up "when it's dark out", as early as 4:30 a.m., to train. He runs for up to an hour and a half on weekdays (and longer on weekends) on roads and through forested trails.
As part of his training, Jason finished the Baltimore Marathon in October 2017. He also adjusts his diet, including drinking only black coffee and water.
If Jason finishes the JFK race, he’s allotted a few concluding words, which he plans to use as a shout-out to Warner Service for the sponsorship.