The Importance of Training
Since Kavounas founded Albemarle Heating, his mission was to provide the best value to customers for a fair price. From day one, Albemarle focused on customer comfort which always included the ductwork connected to their equipment.
But to do all of that required Kavounas and his team to be at the top of their game and he understood that required training. This is a philosophy that Ralph Sachs continues to this day.
He says part of that is making the Performance-Based Contracting™ approach a part of who Albemarle Heating is.
“We believe in and practice the National Comfort Institute (NCI) approach to system diagnostics, testing, and repair. Our challenge is to reinforce the NCI best practices day in and day out.”
Sachs adds his technicians take static pressure measurements on every call. They also do a basic duct analysis when they replace a system.
“Plus, we NCI-train and certify all our guys in carbon monoxide (CO) and combustion analysis. But we still have not taken full advantage of the ComfortMaxx™ software and some of the other tools NCI provides. We understand the benefits of implementing what NCI teaches and are committed to using what we’ve learned.”
Differentiation Works at Albemarle
For the team at Albemarle, the secret sauce to their success is standing out from the crowd. It’s about creativity. It’s about finding the best ways to improve their customers’ lives. Much of that effort revolves around the duct systems which, according to Sachs, has been the case since day one.
But it’s not just about testing and diagnosing. He says sometimes differentiation can be as simple as putting what he calls “pump-ups” under outdoor heat pump units. Pump-ups are feet which raise the outdoor unit so that in winter when a heat pump goes into defrost mode and creates water melt (which then flows out to the ground), you can keep the heat pump raised above it.
“You don’t want the unit sitting on the ground in all that water in the winter. So, we raise the units six inches off the ground,” Sachs explains. “We are also one of the very few companies that use a duct blaster that measures duct leakage and then finds and seals those leaks.”
Sometimes differentiation comes in the form of how you explain technicalities so customers can better understand them without their eyes glazing over.
For example, Sachs tells a story of how, when he first joined Albemarle, he just couldn’t grasp the idea of what static pressure is. No one at Albemarle could explain it in a way that helped him understand.
“Then I attended one of NCI’s airflow classes taught by Rob Falke. During class, he blew up a balloon, held that up so the class could see it, and said that is an example of static pressure. The light bulb went off for me and I finally got it. That training and the other classes I took with NCI gave me a pretty good foundation for how statics work and, maybe even more importantly, how to talk about it with customers,” Sachs explains.
NCI has been training the team at Albemarle almost from the beginning of NCI’s existence and continues to do so today. Ralph believes those skills have led the company to the successes they enjoy today.
Pandemics and the Albemarle Way
Fact: every single business organization in the U.S. has been impacted by the outbreak of the Corona-19 pandemic. For Albemarle Heating, Sachs says that meant making tough decisions to keep the company alive and that meant losing some employees on the service side of the business who had to stay home.
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