Ralph Griffin shares a message of inspiration with hundreds of students during lectures at Madison High School

February 5, 2015

Ralph Griffin, during a brief interview at the Milwaukee Times’ office on Tuseday, Febuary 3, 2015, said his Heating and Air Conditioning business is getting “better and better and it’s a profession that will be around forever.” Griffin was referring to Kinlow’s Heating and Air Conditioning, a firm he acquired several years ago from the previous owner he worked for who was “tired and ready to retire.” Griffin, a former veteran who served in the military working on tanks, said when he left the service, the only place where he could find work was with Kinlow’s Heating. Explaining his situation, Griffin said he got a job with Kinlow within 48 hours of being home. “Mr. Kinlow said: ‘Be here tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.’,” Griffin explained and he confessed admiringly that he’s “never been unemployed since.” DSC_0023Griffin said he was one of several local black business professionals from the community who were invited to make presentations about their professions, which placed the spotlight on Black History Month observance at Madison. Griffin estimates he spoke to more than 150 students who listened attentively and asked a host of questions. Griffin admitted he would not be in the profession he’s in today were it not for a criminal offense, which occurred earlier in his life. Serving time in a correctional facility, Griffin said he became adamant about doing something to turn his life around. Griffin learned of a program in heating and air conditioning being offered to some inmates. Griffin said he pursued the counselor responsible for the program and every opportunity he got to speak with the counselor he did. Griffin’s pursuits paid off when his counselor “made an exception” to see what he could do to get him enrolled in the training program. With that response, Griffin confessed saying: “Thank you Jesus.” Griffin was blessed, because his education didn’t cost him a dime. And today he possesses both state and federal licenses to perform the work he does and his credentials, Griffin said “are accepted anywhere in the world.” When asked why so few African Americans are seen on construction projects in Milwaukee, Griffin confessed many African Americans don’t want to go to school and thus lack the education. Griffin said individuals working in his field, starting as a journeyman, can easily earn up to $19.50 an hour just to learn. And with four years of real work experience individuals can gross as much as $54.00 an hour. Moreover, Griffin said in this field of work, individuals don’t have to attend school for eight years to make a good living. Griffin’s company, Kinlow’s Heating and Air Conditioning employs four fulltime employees.