Cedar Rapids service technician finds customer's misplaced cash while checking furnace

Nate Martz earns bonus for doing the right thing

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CEDAR RAPIDS — When Nate Martz headed into work one morning in late August, he expected it to be like most every other day. But one service call at the end of his day was unlike anything he’d experienced before.

Martz works as a service technician for Colony Heating and Air Conditioning in Cedar Rapids. He was at the home of an elderly customer for whom he had done previous work. In fact, he had been there just a few months earlier, checking the air conditioning unit and changing a furnace filter.

On this trip, Martz recalled there was nothing out of the ordinary as he checked the furnace. But as he went to change the filter he noticed a bright blue bag.

“I just stopped when I saw the side of it said ‘Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust,’ ” he said. “I was immediately uncomfortable because I kind of knew what it was. And I knew for a fact that the bag was not there when I put that filter in a few months ago.”

Out of curiosity, Martz pulled the bag out and opened it to find five stacks of money, four of which were bound by money bands printed with the amount of $2,000.

“Off the top of my head I figured it was between $10,000 and $13,000 cash,” Martz said, adding he immediately zipped the money bag back up, finished his work on the furnace and went to find the homeowner.

“I told him I found something in the furnace and that I wanted to show him,” Martz recalled. “I took him down to the furnace, took the cover off and showed him the bag. His eyes got really big and he kind of grabbed his chest. He was surprised because he thought he had taken it to the bank or their safe deposit box.”

Martz said the homeowner was very thankful.

“I just told him that if it was my money I would definitely want someone to tell me if they found it. He was very appreciative,” Martz added.

Foundation of Trust

Doug Kohoutek, owner and CEO of Colony Heating and Air Conditioning, 2224 16th Ave. SW, said he also is appreciative that Martz did the right thing.

“Our motto has always been ‘call the guys you can trust,’ ” Kohoutek said. “When he did that, it showed, ‘Hey, you really can trust us.’ ”

In his line of work, Kohoutek said trust is equally important as skills.

“The trust issue does come up,” he said. “We’re going into people houses, sometimes when they’re not home. Trust is so important. It gave me heart to see Nate do that. That’s the kind of guy he is — very trustworthy.”

For doing the right thing, Kohoutek, who has owned the business since 1985, said he gave Martz a $100 bonus.

“He could have done a lot of things,” Kohoutek said. “He did the right thing.”

Kohoutek said the homeowner didn’t want to be part of a story about the incident, but re-emphasized their gratitude.

Do unto others

While he’s only worked as a service technician for a little more than two years, Martz said finding something of this scale is highly unusual in this line of work.

“I’ve found personal belongings in duct work or furnaces before but nothing to that scale. I was shocked the rest of the day,” said Martz. “Everyone wanted to hear the story so I feel like I told it 60 more times. And as I started telling people about it they couldn’t believe it either. They had never heard of anyone finding that amount of money. Maybe a few dollars here or there, but not all that money and in the money bag and everything.”

Martz said there was no question in his mind what he would do when he found the money.

“I would never take anything like that from anyone. It’s not worth my job,” he said. “I was just always brought up to treat people they way I wanted to be treated and I just knew this guy needed to know about this money.

“I just did what I would have wanted anyone else to do if it were mine.”

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