A recent advertisement for an HVAC company in Lansing, Michigan, has gone viral for its plain-spoken message about the state of the country.
All Star Mechanical owner Larry Kirchhoff, 51, said he’s been using his company’s platform to advocate for social justice causes for years.
“I had to use my voice, particularly as a white male with the most privilege of any other group in this country,” he told TODAY by phone.
The ad, which ran June 29 in City Pulse, a local publication, reads:
I can’t pretend like everything is ok. Gun fetishes are being prioritized, women are no longer in control of their own bodies. The earth is heating up. Black and Brown people are still being killed, brutalized, or otherwise harassed. Honestly, at this point, who gives a S--- about HVAC. But if you’re hot, give us a call.
Kirchhoff said he thought of the ad in about 30 seconds, typed it up and sent it over, and by the next day, it was in print.
"The words in the ad are exactly how I felt in that moment," he said.
Kirchhoff said that although he's gotten some "really vitriolic feedback" on social media, for the most part, he has seen "overwhelming, supportive responses."
"I have been feeling like nothing is ever going to change for a long time, and this ad actually gives me a little hope," he said. "Ultimately, what I hope for more than anything is that more people will join in the causes, and more people will voice their opinions. And if we can unite behind these messages, then we will invoke change."
But Kirchhoff said his company hasn't always been this way. When he founded it in 2007, he just focused on becoming the best heating, ventilating and air conditioning company in Michigan's capital. When Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, Kirchhoff said he was disgusted by how people were stereotyping Martin and defending his killer, George Zimmerman. But it was when Colin Kaepernick took a knee at an NFL game during the national anthem in 2016 that marked a turning point for Kirchhoff.
Although he first began printing anonymous ads about social justice causes through his advertising contract with City Pulse — one full-page ad simply read “Black Lives Matter” — Kirchhoff said he soon decided there was no point separating his business from his beliefs. At that point, he said, HVAC "became secondary in my life."
"I thought it was important for me to use my platform and my privilege for things that are much more important," he said. "It's my responsibility as a citizen of this country to use my voice because people are suffering."
He said he was not surprised this particular advertisement went viral in the current political climate, but he has been doing similar advertisements and other advocacy on social media for years. Kirchhoff hopes this kind of messaging motivates people to take action — and they can maybe get some heating and cooling services while they're at it.
Kirchhoff said he wished he didn't have to voice his opinion so loudly. "If we would listen to the voices of the people that have been talking about this for the last 50 years, maybe we wouldn’t be having these conversations," he said.
"But if my ad does anything to make people more aware or inspire people to get more involved, then I'm OK."