“The hardest part was interpreting the data once we collected it and figuring out how to use it to educate our customers. I think that was the slowest learning curve for us: truly helping the customer understand the benefit of all these measurements to them.”
He adds that the most challenging part of the high-performance approach for the technicians was their understanding of the “why” of what we wanted them to do.
“We are always working on that through open communication and training.”
Hearn Plumbing and Heating Today
From 2016 to today, Tom Hearn says the business has grown 30% year-over-year. In 2021 the company’s gross revenues topped out at $2.717 million, of which 40% was in plumbing and 60% in HVAC. The firm employs 16 full-time people and services a 20-to-25-mile area around Madison, OH. He adds that they are beginning to push even further out, but 75 to 80% of their work is in the original service area.
“We are 101% residential on both sides of the business,” Hearn says. “That is our niche, and we excel at it.”
Tom’s father, Dan, is still present in the company spending most of his days fabricating custom sheet metal or training new technicians. Tom is general manager and has a vision for where he wants the company to go and how to get there. That vision includes the need to bring on more team members.
However, like so many companies today, the biggest issue is getting the right personnel to help manage the growing workload. Dennielle Hearn says they need to find people to fill new vehicles.
“We have a plumbing apprentice who is training right now and who will crew a new plumbing service vehicle soon,” she says.
Training Is the Heartbeat at Hearn
Tom Hearn says to achieve his goals, he needs a specific and organized approach to training. They also need a similar approach to recruiting.
He says they use technical schools outside of the area for new apprentices and seasoned technicians. For example, they send new plumbing apprentices to a four-week school in Nashville, TN, called Total Tech.
“Our HVAC installers and seasoned HVAC technicians take training in Arkansas. They attend four one-week training sessions over the course of 12 to 24 months at Ultimate Tech Academy, located in Little Rock. We also use another school called Perfect Technician Academy in Weatherford, TX, for training new HVAC service and maintenance technicians,” he explains. “That is how we get our basic training done.”
Advanced HVAC training is through NCI. Hearn says that he first learned of NCI from a fellow Airtime member, Summers and Zim’s in Atglen, PA.
“They are a fourth-generation company who talked about NCI and Comfort Institute as high-end technical training outfits. So, I looked them up and found NCI was for real and located fairly close to us.”
Networking and Training
Fellow contractor Tim Volpone of H.J. Ziegler Heating Co., Inc. in Ashtabula is a friend of Tom Hearn and an ACCA member who brought in Jim Davis of NCI to address the group. Davis taught a combustion and carbon monoxide class for the local ACCA chapter, and Hearn sent his technicians to it.
“That class pretty much sealed the deal for us,” Hearn says.
In addition to this “immersion” training approach, as Tom Hearn calls it, the company also does a lot of internal training.
“Every department meets once a week,” he says. “We have a company meeting on Mondays. Tuesday is our HVAC service and maintenance meeting, Wednesday is for sales, and Thursday is for plumbing.
“For our installation department, I typically fit training in a morning that makes sense depending on what jobs our techs have. And then Dennielle meets with the call center: our CSRs and the dispatcher.
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