The DiMarco Implementation Process
DiMarco has been involved with and believed in the Performance-Based Contracting process practically from the beginning of the foundation of NCI. He has been a member since 2000, was one of the first contracting organizations to become part of National Balancing Council (a subsidiary of NCI) in 2006, and has been training his team every year since then.
“Training is paramount. We do as much training weekly as possible and each year we increase our spending on outside training for our personnel,” he says. “That training is both technical and non-tech.”
He explains that they probably spend 2000 man-hours on training (formal and informal) across all DiMarco’s employees.
“And that is not enough. It should probably be twice that,” he adds.
“The training has paid dividends however. Senior techs and apprentice techs are performing performance-based tasks and they are seeing the results for themselves.
Why? “Because you have to build a culture that is different than your team is used to,” he says. “Change is hard. But our guys are slowly getting into it and we now have technicians who insist on getting airflow and combustion right. They follow our protocols for testing in and testing out.
“Implementing performance is easier for us in the commercial arena because there is more of an awareness for the need from our architect, engineering, and building management clients. They are acutely conscious of expenditures. Not just first costs, but also long-term operational costs.
“Their success depends on their buildings and systems functioning properly – whether it is an office facility, processing plant, and everything in between,” he continues. “They understand the importance of air quality, air exchange, airflow, and system reliability. So they are willing and able to spend the money.”
But the residential business is a different animal. He says that business revolves around customer pain — they call when there is a problem and they want it fixed right away. In those instances, they will pull the trigger on repairs. But they often hesitate when testing shows the need for air upgrades, duct renovations, and so on.
For DiMarco and Associates, that doesn’t stop them from doing the testing on every job and making a Chinese menu of things that need to be done now and things that can wait.
“This gives customers options and most homeowners like that. But they don’t always buy.”
He says what works for his company is the residential custom home building market. The customer is the builder of high-end homes that sell for between $2 and $4 million. DiMarco says don’t install cheap equipment or poorly designed delivery systems.
The good news for Ben DiMarco and his team is that they had a lot of this custom work on the books before the COVID-19 pandemic, and he says work still is continuing.
DiMarco says he sees opportunities for the HVAC industry as a result of the Coronavirus.
“I am talking about an increased interest in indoor air quality, real measurements, data collection, and a test-diagnose-repair approach. I recently read some engineering articles that talk about a future where buildings will be required to install hospital-grade HVAC systems to combat future pandemics,” he says.
“Unfortunately, it took an international crisis to make the world see the importance of this approach to building systems, but it is something we’ve all known for years. Now it is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and I think it’s going to stick.”
And that is the approach that is central to how DiMarco and Associates operates. As Ben likes to say, “System optimization, which includes the duct system, is the basis of who we are as a company. It’s in our DNA.”
It is for these reasons and many more that High-Performance HVAC Today magazine is pleased to shine our spotlight on DiMarco & Associates of Cleveland, Ohio.