Servicing the Nation's Largest Metropolis
January 15, 2007
NEW YORK - What started, over 25 years ago, as a three-person company servicing commercial accounts in metropolitan New York City has grown to a company with over 110 employees and annual revenues of $60 million. The dreams of a few people have transformed BP Air Conditioning Corp., Brooklyn, N.Y., into one of the city’s largest commercial air conditioning companies. And it continues to grow.
In fact, the company is in the process of moving its office to a new location in Glendale, that will give it a complete interior makeover, making it more convenient for dispatching its fleet of 65 vehicles, and giving employees a roomier and more secure work environment. The company’s goal is to maintain its high degree of responsiveness to its customers. A larger location will help achieve the company’s goal of being a leader in customer service.
“The move will not only allow us the ability to grow our business, but the facility will better enable us to improve our work flow, as well as create a more spacious, comfortable, and workable environment for our employees,” said Robert Barbara, president, principal of BP.
“It’s wonderful to see the BP principals investing in our firm’s future, which is in and of itself, a strong commitment to our employees and our customers,” noted John Fanneron, vice president of service. “We have been in business since 1978 in Brooklyn, and this investment shows we plan on serving the New York City metro area for many years to come.”
Service means around-the-clock response to some of New York City’s largest Fortune 500 companies. It is critical for the company’s top class customers to have their facilities and equipment up and running 24/7. BP recognizes this and has modeled its business around their customer base.
“I would recommend BP to other clients and friends, without a doubt,” said Leonard Griffiths, administrator of the New York City office of Brobeck, Philger & Harrison, and a BP customer. “They work with us on a 24/7 basis and that is the only way we can have it. They are very responsive regardless of the time or day.”
Sean Halligan, BP vice president of estimating, noted that his company specializes in servicing critical air conditioning and critical backup systems on a 24-hour basis. “There is no downtime in NYC,” he said.
Griffiths’ comments were broadcast on a video, produced and narrated by former NFL player, Pat Summerall. The “Champions of Industry” video featured BP executives talking about the business and the customers it serves.
In the same video it mentioned that BP customers have the ability to interface with all employees in the company. “There is always a structure where a person is dealing with an owner or construction manager and we can handle our projects with a variety of different people.”
That is a main reason why BP customer James Lang, senior managing director, Bears Stearns, has been doing business with BP for over 20 years. “Their principals and officers are readily available - you are not dealing with a service entity that is not responsive,” he said.
ABOUT BP AIR CONDITIONINGJohn Losey, founder & CEO, noted that BP’s primary objectives are to achieve maximum system efficiency while balancing the need for environmental comfort, cost effectiveness, convenience, and safety.
“We will meet these objectives by applying professional management concepts,” he said. “Our experience keeps HVAC systems operating at peak performance and costs under tight control.”
Up until now, BP has focused the bulk of its business on commercial building renovations, but the focus is evolving more today.
“Ninety percent of our work is interior renovations, although we are branching out to larger, out-of-the ground projects,” said Dan LaSorsa, BP executive vice president, principal.
The company’s goals also include the following:
• Reducing unscheduled down-time to a minimum.
• Reducing the maintenance costs while satisfying the operational requirements of its client’s specifications.
• Maintaining high-level management and technical engineering support for clients.
• Investigating the cause of and remedies for emergency breakdowns.
• Keeping abreast of industrial practices, technological advancement, new methods, equipment, and materials.
• Providing and maintaining all relevant records and reports.
The last item was recently enhanced by the company’s switch to Microsoft Dynamics SL, a case study that was made into a presentation by Microsoft. In it, company executives talked about the need to have one system to manage the many smaller systems within BP.
“We know what it took to be a $70 million company with no control,” said Losey.
“We can now monitor our accounting up to the minute to guarantee a positive cash flow.”
Steve Heiderstadt, senior vice president of construction noted that the new business solution system provides critical up-to-date information that is vital to his company’s success. “We couldn’t operate on information that was six-to-nine months old.”
Fanneron said that without having one central system, BP was in danger of not maintaining its customer base - something BP couldn’t tolerate. “We process over 20,000 work orders every year,” he said. “With that type of volume you tend to lose contact with the customer. You are so busy managing, that you are working in the business instead of on the business. We were growing too fast for our own good.”
But given the demanding New York City market, it is easy to see that rapid growth is just part of the landscape. “This is a very defined market for the mechanical service contractor,” said Barbara. “It is an extremely entrepreneurial arena which has created multiple levels of markets to service, e.g., owners’ representatives, general contractors, construction managers, facility managers, etc. At times, the client may be three to four tiers away from the actual building of the firm and already servicing the HVAC.”
“This entrepreneurial atmosphere has also created an extremely competitive environment in New York City,” said Losey.
“As a very dear friend once said, ‘You have the United States, and then New York City stands on its own.’ ”
“In New York your client wants it quicker, faster, cheaper,” noted LaSorsa. And being a New York City-based company opens the door for unique challenges. Fanneron cited the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as a prime example.
“The greatest challenge has been the operating of this business through the tragedy of 9/11, where we lost two employees, as well as managing through the massive insurance rate hikes, which were upwards of 150 percent, the additional security and accessibility to facilities within Manhattan. Add to that the Internet bubble burst and the shortage of talent to the trade - and these are the greatest challenges we face.”
IT'S ABOUT EMPLOYEES, TOOKnowing that an educated and productive employee is a key to success, BP invests a lot of time in training for its staff. The company also puts a lot of emphasis on personal growth and a secure wages and benefits program. And there is one more very important factor: project ownership.
“BP’s success is its entrepreneurial environment,” said Fanneron. “That is the ability for our employees to take ownership of their work. That freedom allows our clients to receive the very best we have to offer. Our greatest success is the ability of the principals of BP to allow their employees to take ownership of their work, in order to best service our clients. This is the No. 1 reason for the company’s success.
“BP offers all its employees great benefits from competent, competitive salaries and bonuses to great health care plans, pension profit sharing, a 401k plan, and long-term disability insurance.
“BP is truly a self-motivated company, in that we all strive to be the best at what we do. Often we find ourselves most critical of our own performance versus the client’s opinion of our abilities. We are constantly measuring ourselves against ourselves - as odd as that may sound - in order to maintain the quality of service we provide.”
BP maintains the information flow to both employees and customers through its “BP University.” This ongoing process ensures that the company keeps a line of communication open between employees and customers. All technicians and staff are part of a continuing education process. Customers can attend classes to learn about what BP does and about their own systems.
Despite the demands on them, the company also wants its employees to enjoy their work environment. “BP is a fairly aggressive place to work,” said Fanneron. “We operate in a fast-paced, high-energy environment, which we attempt to keep upbeat and fun.”
He also noted that the future of the New York City marketplace will be bright with the rebuilding of the World Trade Center and downtown as well. “New York City is an ever-changing place which will always offer opportunities for those who are willing to work hard and adapt to change,” Losey said. “We have made a new commitment to our industry and we are prepared for the changes in our journey ahead.”
That philosophy suits customers like Lang just fine. “My opinion of BP can be described in three words: dependable, knowledgeable, and economical,” he said. “They are flexible when working with us because it is critical to have our technology up and running.”
Publication date: 01/15/2007