Focusing on Parts and Service
August 17, 2009
Tozour Energy Systems provides value-driven customer care and energy services to the Philadelphia area. As any skilled energy professional or sustainability expert will tell you, keeping a facility’s HVAC equipment and mechanical systems operating at peak efficiency can afford a number of benefits, including reduced operating costs, a more comfortable environment, minimized repair and replacement costs; extended equipment life, and increased productivity. In addition, the peace of mind derived from the aforementioned scenarios is another, perhaps intangible, reward that definitely needs to be factored into the equation.
Tozour Energy Systems, Inc. is a full-service HVAC and building automation provider, comprised of three business entities: Tozour-Trane, HVAC Parts and Supplies, and Tozour Energy. The company provides customers with a diverse range of solutions including building automation, equipment services, energy conservation services, green building design, controls, parts, supplies, and responsible technical support. Tozour serves as a factory-authorized original equipment manufacturer (OEM) distributor for parts.
“Any Trane parts, that’s what we sell,” said Frank Laster, executive manager - Parts and Supplies.
VALUE DRIVENThe company’s growth into the parts and supplies segment, as well as how the company emphasizes service as part of their value proposition are key factors in establishing Tozour as a value-driven company. As such, Tozour provides operations and preventive maintenance services; total building solutions; repair services; energy management and consultative services for mechanical systems, electrical systems, energy management systems and temperature-control systems.
Tozour has three parts and supplies centers: one in King of Prussia, Pa. (headquarters location); one in Moorestown, N.J., and one in Pleasantville, N.J. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Douglas O. Tozour has owned the Philadelphia Trane franchise since 1983. Frank Laster works out of the King of Prussia location and has been with the company for one-and-a-half years.
The way he describes the current market is as most professionals in the HVAC industry are all too aware of, unfortunately, with equipment sales way down and only a brief time when parts sales were up. With the economy in lurches, distributors and contractors from coast to coast seem to be experiencing the same scenario. Laster said that Tozour is getting this type of feedback not only from their region, but from across the country as well.
“What we’re seeing are repairs that are being done when equipment is completely exhausted,” Laster said.
In past years, Tozour’s customers would make suggestions to the end users regarding aging/failing equipment that needed to be replaced.
“In the past, it was no problem - ‘go ahead and fix it,’ ” Laster said. “Now, end users are pushing it to the limit. When it breaks, then they make the repair.”
ONE-STOP SHOP APPROACHTozour’s Parts and Supplies division has culled a very diverse customer base. “We sell to mechanical contractors, and end users, which could be anyone from school districts to municipalities,” Laster said. This base also includes industrial manufacturing, as lots of companies in that realm do handle their own HVAC maintenance.
A key attribute that Laster believes distinguishes Tozour HVAC Parts and Supplies is availability. When customers come in, the company can offer that particular part needed or provide everything necessary to complete the job. With currently more than $1 million inventory in the company’s three stores, Tozour is well-prepared to outfit their clients.
“We are able to help customers with ‘the one-stop shop’ approach.”
Some steps Tozour has taken with which to help its customer base through these economic hard times, include providing after-hours availability for emergency parts.
“A customer has a unit down, and needs a part - he wants to complete and get up and running for the end user.”
Keeping weekend availability open has also helped customers serve their clients better. “If they need something over the weekend - that’s huge,” Laster said. “Say they need a fan blade or compressor motor, they can come pick it up to complete their job.”
Some of the additional customer-friendly initiatives in place at Tozour include cash discounts on parts, as well as incentives for customers electing prepayment or paying early.
“Working capital is important for everyone,” Laster said. “Additional discounts help them, and it helps us.”
Other customer-friendly initiatives Tozour has put into place include partnering with Air Gas as an official Reklaim™ partner, and expanding its rental business to include emergency chiller and spot cooling rentals. Having three depots located around the Philadelphia market allows for some same-day chiller deliveries for emergencies.
“That is important when you’re talking about a hospital or mall,” Laster said. “A chiller goes down in a mall, where people are still out shopping … well, they need the cooling down right away in the facility. We’ve been successful by being able to provide that to our customer base.”
ROOM TO GROWAnd in keeping with ways to better serve its customer base, Tozour has begun looking to expand beyond its current three locations, Laster said. The company has performed analyses to show where equipment and customers are, and are looking to add locations in those areas to facilitate service and provide more convenient ways to pick up parts, thus effectively saving money on gas and labor.
ENERGY SERVICESTozour Energy Services is the energy engineering consulting arm of Tozour Trane, and is comprised of dedicated energy professionals ranging from Certified Engineer Managers (CEMs) to Professional Engineers (PEs) to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professionals (LEED APs) in both new construction (NC) and existing buildings (EB), the company reports. Tozour’s mission is to effectively incorporate technology to help customers save money. The company focuses on delivering measurable outcomes - lower energy costs, extended equipment life and extended revenue.
Frank Rhea, vice president, services and contracting, has been with Tozour for almost five years. Rhea is an industry lifer, citing 36 years in the HVAC sector, in which he started out as a tech. “You name it, I’ve done it,” Rhea said, and rattles off a list of roles and titles including supervisor, branch manager and area manager. These positions have afforded him the opportunity to go different places throughout the country, and having been with several companies, Rhea has picked up a lot of techniques/strategies that work along the way.
His experience in the HVAC industry has helped him become well-rounded and, ultimately, prepared for stressful situations like this current economy can present, he said.
“Sometimes, customers look at initial costs without taking into full account what they’ll actually spend,” Rhea said. “And, they actually end up spending more in the long run. We’re here to help those customers not to do that.”
“We utilize technology to provide a 24-7/365-days-a-year com- prehensive look at HVAC systems,” Rhea said. “We create a scorecard that helps pinpoint where changes are needed and required, but also to ensure that changes we make are delivering maximum outcomes.”
This falls under the company’s “Sustainability Services” offering. The scorecard Rhea referred to is called the Performance Scorecard, and it is in fact a matrix used to determine exactly how to keep equipment running optimally at all times in addition to whatever adjustments need to be done.
“Some things we find are very simple, but can save the customer 15 percent on energy bills, just like that,” Rhea said. “We made a choice to deliver value. We use technologies to improve HVAC and energy performance.”
Errors such as simultaneously running both heating and cooling, or having the wrong belts installed, and wrong cooling settings confuse the equipment into running much more than needed. These problems, along with incorrect outdoor air settings - where the system is bringing in maximum outside air without looking to see what is really needed - contribute to inefficiency. By taking a comprehensive approach and measuring outcomes, end users are able to extend equipment life and keep systems running at optimum performance levels.
“Running [machinery] at max peak is going to ensure that it will run longer/last longer than a struggling piece of equipment,” Rhea said.
According to Rhea, Tozour also provides retrocommissioning services, where technicians go into an aging system and retrofit that system to operate to the level where it was designed to and/or take to a new level of performance. “Tweaks, squeaks and leaks - that’s the way we explain it in simple terms,” Rhea said.
“The more up-time we create for our customers, the more revenue we create for them. In this economy, you gotta be that guy who can do everything to help out your customer - we’re that company.”
Where Frank Laster’s customers are the contractors, Rhea’s customers are the end-users, which means he works with facility managers and building owners. “We can always walk into a facility and find them 10 to 15 percent savings in their overall operating budget,” Rhea said.
Sometimes customers don’t see the overall approach Rhea and Tozour provide, which can be frustrating. “They think they’re saving money, but in the long run, they’re not saving. And I hate to see anyone throw their money away.”
GETTING IT RIGHTAs words of wisdom to businesses/facilities looking for ways to trim costs and capitalize on the benefits of peak system performance, Rhea encourages end users to take an overall approach to the entire spending.
“Instead of concentrating on one little area, look at the entire budget. Look for ways to save on energy and continue to save the life of your equipment.”
“Don’t give away energy – look at your entire system,” Rhea said. “A lot of people look at this piece by piece, and therefore lose the opportunity to come back with some savings.”
Rhea explains the Tozour created Sustainability Services some five years ago, and not just as a matter of being reactionary to current buzz words and new protocol. “Our goal is to make ourselves a better value-driven company for our customers.”
“The strong companies - the ones that ‘do it right’ - are the ones that are gonna survive through this recession,” Laster said. “Do the right thing. It’s a tough market - communication is the key. If we’re not communicating effectively, we both lose.”
Publication date: 08/17/2009