In 2022 so many things were impacting the world in which we live and work. The major headlines focused on pandemic-caused supply chain issues and crazy high inflation that was out of control. Headlines also focused on how the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to counter it.
Also, in 2022, wages and benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, rose to a 20-year high, gasoline prices soared after Russia invaded Ukraine, and U.S. mortgage rates climbed as cryptocurrencies crashed.
It was a strange year.
We approached six High-Performance HVAC contracting firms to find out how these events impacted their businesses as part of a series called “Contractor Spotlights.” These articles typically focus on contracting companies that work hard in the realm of High-Performance HVAC contracting. They do this by measuring, testing, and diagnosing using static pressure and other measurements.
We also address successes and challenges they have addressing customer comfort issues using the High-Performance approach. This means looking at the entire structure as part of the HVAC system. The economic and societal situation of 2022 directly impacted a company’s ability to solve these issues. We wanted to learn how contractors worked to overcome them.
In 2022, we spotlighted the following companies:
- James A. Wheat and Sons, Gaithersburg, MD
- Hearn Plumbing and Heating, Madison, OH
- SoCal Airflow Pros, Orange County, CA
- Integrity Test and Balance, Traverse City, MI
- Lakeside Service Company, Brighton, MI
- Bailey’s Heating and Air, Modesto, CA.
What do all six of these companies have in common? Five are in the residential-light commercial service and installation markets; one serves mostly commercial customers. All of them, at some point, wanted to find better ways to help their customers by solving comfort and energy efficiency problems and being able to prove how they did it.
The result was a re-focus on continuous training of their field service and installation teams.
For 45-year-old James A. Wheat and Sons, their focus from day one was on providing the best customer comfort in the Gaithersburg area. In the company’s early days, they subbed out any necessary ductwork. It wasn’t until Jeff Wheat, and his brother attended a balancing certification class taught by National Comfort Institute (NCI) in the late 1990s that they discovered the importance of properly testing and measuring before and after doing the work.
That led to them to do all their own ductwork and changing their business model. Though training was always necessary, Jeff Wheat says it is more important now than ever.
“From my perspective,” Wheat says, “if I don’t train my people, who will? Frankly, I consider spending time and money on training an investment in our team so they can go out and do the work correctly.”
Tom Hearn of Hearn Plumbing and Heating agrees. This 76-year-old company slowly began to change from a mostly one-man operation over the decades to a small-but-growing High-Performance HVAC firm that started training its people in performance-based service and installation.
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