Athens is a small city in Southeastern Ohio, nestled snugging the foot of the Appalachian foothills along the Hocking River. It is home to 115-year-old Ohio University, once known as Harvard on the Hocking. It is also home to a small upstart HVAC firm known as Dean Heating and Air Conditioning.
The company was formed in 1996 by Ken Dean, a local tradesmen whose experience – from the time he was in high school – was in carpentry and residential electrical work.
“I started in the field in 1981,” Dean says, “first as an installer, then as a service technician. I worked for two companies for 15 years when I decided it was time to set up my own shop.”
In 1996, Bill Clinton was president, Great Britain discovered Mad Cow disease, and Israel just elected Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister for the first time. It was also the year that the first sheep was cloned from adult cells (Hello Dolly)!
Meanwhile, in Athens, Dean Heating was off to a fast start. Ken Dean says they had so much business that he soon realized he needed a helper and so hired his son. Jared Dean became Ken’s business partner in 2010.
“The business grew partly from establishing a reputation of doing our work right the first time (I hate call-backs) and my son’s efforts to promote and advertise,” Ken Dean says.
Doing It Right
Dean Heating focuses on residential retrofits. Ken says that from the beginning he understood the importance of doing things right the first time as well as how airflow is key to the successful and efficient operation of HVAC systems.
This attitude, combined with his very positive and outgoing personality helped his small company build a great reputation in his marketplace.
As a result, he found himself in the position of going into homes serviced by other firms and fixing problems that the competitors didn’t even know existed.
Dean says, “The manager at my supply house told me after we’d been in business for a while that in his 20 years he’d seen many men go out on their own, but I was the only one who had work every day of every week.
He explains that the Athens community has a population of about 30,000 people and it wasn’t long before rental property owners saw the value in having his company service their systems.
“We began working for a couple of the larger ones in town. Then building owners sought our services for their small commercial properties.
“Our reputation and word-of-mouth drove more business to our doorstep.”
In 2012, Ken Dean was introduced to the National Comfort Institute and he began taking classes. He learned that his airflow ideas were mostly right, but he also realized that he had much more to learn.
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