“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
— Frank Herbert, author of Dune.
It’s not every day that we begin a profile of a successful High-Performance HVAC Contractor with a science fiction quote, but in this case, it seems most appropriate.
Westland Heating and Air Conditioning + Plumbing was founded in 1985 – a time in history when hijackings of passenger planes and tourist boats were at an all-time high.
It was also a time when great uncertainty existed about war with Russia, and the U.S. economy was slow. In fact, 1985 saw a decrease in real GNP growth from 6.5% in 1984 to 2.2%.
Unemployment was over 7%. There was a lot of fear and worry that year.
It was really a tough time to start a business. But Jeff Mitchell, who left college early and began working for other contractors, wanted to strike out on his own.
He wasn’t afraid of taking this risk, despite the economy at that time.
“I knew I didn’t want to be a plumber because I didn’t like digging holes and trenches to reline gas lines in winter. That wasn’t for me,” he says.
So, in 1985, Mitchell opened the doors of his new company, Westland Heating, Air Conditioning + Plumbing.
For 28 years, Jeff grew the company, added personnel, and set it up to sell to his son, Zack, in 2013. Today, its gross revenues are between $30 and $40 million in both the commercial and residential market sectors. On the commercial side, Westland has two divisions: Commercial Construction and Commercial Replacement.
On the residential side, Westland has a residential replacement division. Their service department, which includes repairs and maintenance, serves both the commercial and residential divisions.
Jeff says they recently added plumbing to their repertoire through an acquisition. They do a lot of work with hydronic systems, including water balancing.
“If the system heats or cools water or air, Westland wants to learn about it, install it, and service it,” Mitchell says.
They employ from 65 to 80 people depending on the number of projects. Westland also fields around 40 vehicles throughout their market area, which covers most of Northeastern Ohio – from Sandusky to Eastlake.
“Though from a residential perspective, it makes more economic sense for us to focus on Cleveland’s western suburbs because that is our headquarters location,” Jeff says.
According to Jeff Mitchell, the most significant milestone for the company was the conversion to a younger management team.
“I think one of the most important milestones is growing the company enough to start bringing in the next generation of leaders and managers. After selling the business to my son, Zack, he took over the management of the commercial construction
“I changed my responsibilities to focus on being the service manager and making sales within our commercial replacement division,” he says.
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