He says training became an essential cornerstone to the changes in the company. In addition to business management training, we began enrolling our technicians in technical training from manufacturers, distributors, and National Comfort Institute (NCI).”

SoCal Airflow Pros grows by testing, measuring, diagnosing, and never forgetting that the ductwork is part of the overall system

Training is also the cornerstone of SoCal Airflow Pro’s approach to High-Performance contracting. Owner Cody Novini says he’s been able to grow his one-person business in just seven years into a company that employs 36 people and fields 25 service and installation vehicles.

“Airflow is the most important part of a heating and air conditioning system,” he says. “That is why our name is Airflow Pros. Early in my service technician career, I understood that static pressure is the key to getting these systems to work right, achieve proper flow, and make every room comfortable per customers’ wishes.”

John Boylan of Lakeside Service Company adds that it wasn’t until 2014 that he and his company got serious about airflow testing, measurements, and diagnosing invisible problems.

Lakeside's John Boylan dabbled in ductwork renovations until he saw how much money could be made.

“Before that, we participated only in a smattering of NCI air balance and combustion classes. The light bulb went off for me when our dabbling in testing and measuring began bringing in more jobs and better profits. That is when we decided to get 100% of our team trained and certified.

“But that meant making a lot of changes in how we did our work,” he adds. “It also meant investing heavily in our people and tools. The magic is in our commitment and hard work.”

From a commercial perspective, Kevin Heikkila’s company, Integrity Testing and Balancing, finds that without proper technical training, he and his team cannot stay on the cutting edge and provide the testing and balancing services his customers require.

“I know how important it is to stay ahead of the curve, improve ourselves, and serve our customers better,” Heikkila says. “I want to continue to be recognized as a leader in the TAB industry in Western Michigan.”

Air Upgrades & Ductwork Renovations Help Battle Pandemic Woes

Interestingly enough, all six of our spotlight contractors say they experienced growth despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. John Boylan attributes that growth to the company’s commitment to training and developing internal processes to support a high-performance approach. He says that led to closing more air upgrades, especially with rising costs for new HVAC equipment and supply chain shortages.

The air upgrade sale and ductwork renovations have “added nicely to our overall profits,” Tom Hearn adds.

“The air upgrade and ductwork renovation approach helps us to help take care of issues that can prolong system life and add comfort to the house,” Hearn says. “Plus, air upgrades increase the average ticket for a project and our overall gross margin on replacement. The best news is that it helps customers save on energy.”

At Bailey’s Heating and Air, owner Mitch Bailey says it’s always about the ductwork. “In addition to doing load calculations, we measure the entire existing system to see how it performs before we do anything else.”

Bailey also says that his goal is to “stop swapping boxes.” Part of that is because “boxes” aren’t as readily available due to supply chain issues. Even before he says they push back against swap-outs.

“Our industry needs contractors to test in and test out. They should take static pressure readings, measure total system and room-to-room airflow, and do load calculations. Help the customer see how their entire system operates — from the equipment to the ductwork — before you make any changes and then show them what their system is doing after your changes.”

Does this add to Bailey’s bottom line? He says most of his replacement and ductwork renovation jobs save his customers around 30% in energy use costs!

Differences Do Not Matter

The 2022 “class” of contractors we spotlighted are from across the country and differ in terms of size and backgrounds. Some are multi-generational companies; others are much younger. Some achieve multi-millions in annual revenue dollars, while others achieve much less. And as I’ve said, one is a commercial testing and balancing company, while all the others serve the residential/light commercial marketplace in their areas.

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