2017 Top 40 Under 40 HVACR professionals
The industry is full of young talent
We often hear there is a graying of the HVACR industry. That is a polite way of saying there are more old people than young people working in the trade.
Of course, that is not all bad. The older generation has a lot to offer the industry in regards to knowledge, work ethic, and other necessary skills.
However, as with any organization or industry, young talent needs to be nurtured to replace the older generation. While the trade certainly has its fair share of legends, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the HVACR industry boasts a wealth of young talent as well. These fresh faces must be welcomed into the industry and properly trained and educated in order to secure a positive future for the trade.
From the young contractors running their first businesses to the vice presidents operating distribution centers, HVACR has a lot of budding talent on all levels of the industry.
The NEWS desired to highlight these individuals with a list of 40 HVACR professionals under 40 years of age who are accomplishing great things in their respective positions. This is the third year we’ve asked our readers to nominate the best of the best and, indeed, they did. We received 180 entries, and picking the top 40 was incredibly difficult.
The individuals chosen represent every aspect of the industry, including the manufacturing, distribution, instructional, and contracting sectors. Their backstories run the gamut, as there are those who grew up in the industry, those who stumbled upon the industry while seeking new career outlets, those who entered HVACR in the most interesting of circumstances, and more.
“I realize I am partial, but I think this is a great list,” said Kyle Gargaro, editor-in-chief, The NEWS. “It really highlights some of the best and the brightest coming up in the HVACR industry.”
Inside, there are brief write-ups on each individual who made the list. And, while the stories of how they reached the HVACR industry vary greatly, the common denominator is that they love the field and their careers. The members of this list all work hard, think about the big picture, and have the ability to challenge the way things have always been done.
While certainly hundreds could have been highlighted, we needed to choose 40. Scroll down to see who made this year’s list and get to know the individuals who are already leading the trade into the future.
Company: Ingersoll Rand
Title: Vice president of finance, residential HVAC and supply
At 36 years old, Kristen Actis-Grande has progressed through the ranks at Ingersoll Rand to become one of its youngest female vice presidents. She leads the financial operations for Ingersoll Rand's residential HVAC and supply business, which includes the Trane, American Standard, Ameristar, and Nexia brands.
Her success is largely based on her philosophy that a finance professional must deliver insights that drive performance, a concept she's tested over time that has led to changes in everything from product design and availability to marketing strategy that affected almost every facet of the business.
Despite her success, she still has lofty HVAC goals.
"I'd like to increase my knowledge of the overall HVAC industry, specifically the commercial side of HVAC, which I haven't had as much exposure to," Actis-Grande said. "I'd like to move into a general management role at some point in my career."
Company: Brisk Air Inc
Andy Andres, president of Brisk Air Inc., has built upon the HVAC business his father started in 1988.
"Whenever he had the opportunity to throw me in the truck, I was in it," Andres said. "I grew into becoming his main problem solver and was forced to be self-sufficient, which I'm very thankful for today. I purchased my father's company in 2012. We doubled company revenue the first year and maintained it the second year. I acquired another company in 2015 to double our revenues overnight. The merger of the two companies created Brisk Air Inc."
Brisk Air was a company Andres dreamt of operating as a child. The business did $2 million worth of business in 2016 and is shooting for $2.5 million in 2017.
"My career HVAC goal is to be an industry changer in our geographical area and to have an exceptional establishment that is sanctified from the companies that spoil the good of this industry," Andres said. "I'm passionate about creating a work environment that provides tremendous opportunity to its employees. Through training, mentorship, and direction, I want our employees to feel accomplished, appreciated, and valued."
Company: Baumann & DeGroot Heating & Cooling
Title: Sales and marketing manager
Heating and cooling goes back three generations for the Baumann family.
"My grandfather and father both owned heating and cooling businesses — two separate companies — I grew up in it and around it. I started here at Baumann & DeGroot full time in 2012 after honing my skills in other industries after college," said Baumann, who serves as the company's sales and marketing manager. He typically meets with five or six homeowners a day, designing quotes and explaining replacement options. Homeowners have responded positively as Baumann & DeGroot's replacement sales have grown 225 percent over three years.
Baumann also sits on the board of the Energy Retrofit Program in Holland, Michigan.
"My goal is to continue to grow our company through a strong relationship with our community while striving to maintain the small family atmosphere that makes us successful internally," Baumann said.
Company: Browns Heating & Air
Brandon Brown started his contracting company in 2006. It now includes 10 employees and does more than $1.5 million of business each year.
"My career goal is to build a strong company based on values of integrity, honesty, and love," Brown said. "I want my company to bring high-quality work at affordable prices and to be known as the most dedicated company in Virginia."
Brown built his business on word of mouth. Browns does not spend a lot of money on advertising, and 95 percent of the company's work comes from referrals. The contractor has been named the best heating and air company by Lynchburg Living two years in a row. Employees are also heavily involved in local charity.
"When I started my company, my goal was to one day be able to give back to the community and those in need," Brown said. "In the past two years, we've been able to provide an HVAC system to a family in need, completely free to them. Last Christmas, we helped a local nonprofit group provide Christmas gifts to more than 75 local kids."
Louis Bruno IV
Company: Bruno Air
Louis Bruno started working in the industry at age 17 and opened his own HVAC company at 24. Since founding Bruno Air, the company has grown exponentially. It now employs 150 individuals and boasts $25 million in revenue.
Bruno Air is in the very competitive southwest Florida market and covers both the residential and commercial markets.
"I started working in the industry as a helper during a summer in high school," Bruno said. "That role evolved after graduation into a technician role, later a sales manager role, and eventually helped to grow that small company from a few hundred thousand in annual sales to more than a million. Ultimately, the first job set me up for the path that has brought me to where I am today."
Bruno has also appeared on CNBC's "Blue Collar Millionaires," a docuseries that highlights working-class individuals who have found success with a can-do mindset and hard work — often times having to roll up their sleeves. The show explored what differentiated Bruno from his competition and how his employees work to make business better each day.
Company: Church Plumbing & Heating Inc.
Title: Co-owner/general manager
When Church graduated from high school in 1996, he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. While he did well in school, Church couldn't see spending the money to go to college without a clear purpose in mind. He decided to take a year off and was told by his parents that he needed to get a job.
"As it turns out, that job was in the family business," Church said. "Twenty-one years later, I've still never gone to college, and I've never looked back. I've done just about every job in the company from receptionist to service technician to sweeping floors to duct system design."
Church helped the company recover from the Great Recession when their office staff was reduced from 26 to nine.
"Helping get the business back from the brink during the worst part of the recession, and establishing it as one of the premier plumbing and HVAC providers in the marketplace is one of my biggest accomplishments," Church said.
Company: AccuTemp Services LLC
In just two years as the owner of AccuTemp Services, Joshua Davis had led the team of 35 employees and almost doubled the company's revenue to $7 million.
"My father started an HVAC company from our home while I was in high school, and I worked with him during the summertime," Davis said. "When I was 19, I attended an HVAC sales training and realized that the HVAC industry had a lot of opportunity in it. My father had no business experience and encouraged me to take a shot at growing the company. A few years later, I had the opportunity to purchase the company from him, and the rest is history."
Davis is president of the Louisiana Heat Pump Association and a member of Business Development Resources, a company offering resources and expertise in successful business practices.
Company: Atlantic Westchester Inc.
Title: Director of operations
Sean Dunleavy began working with Atlantic Westchester in 2012. He is responsible for the daily operations of the company and maintains more than 100 long-term client relationships. Dunleavy fast-tracked from an entry-level position to management in six years and is currently leading a $5 million field service operation.
"I set out to make the HVAC service industry my career, and it has been great to me over the past 10 years," Dunleavy said. "Hopefully this will continue to be personally rewarding for many years to come."
Dunleavy spends his free time teaching fourth-year HVAC service technician apprentices at the local union hall.
"I desire to lead the best team possible and perform work using enhanced industry practices that meet or exceed clients' expectation levels," he said. "I also plan to continue to help develop future generations of service technicians through my role as an instructor in our local union apprenticeship program."
Company: Diamond E. Heat and Air
After working for HVAC service companies in both Dallas and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hank Eakle was looking for more. So, at the age of 30, Eakle and his family returned to his hometown of Quinton, Oklahoma, where he acquired his contractor's license and launched his own company — Diamond E. Heat and Air.
"I wanted a career where I wasn't going to be in the same place, day in and day out," Eakle said. "I wanted to learn a trade where I could fix things. The financial profitability wasn't a bad goal either."
In less than three years, he has grown the business into a successful and profitable company that actively serves several counties in southeastern Oklahoma.
"My goal is to continue to provide trustworthy and high-quality service to customers while building relationships and a reputation of high standards," Eakle said.
Eakle has plans to add an electrical and plumbing department in the future.
Company: Nice Home Services LLC
Craig Elliott is the CEO of Nice Home Services LLC, but, in this case, CEO stands for chief executive optimist. After entering the business in 2000, he worked as a showroom salesman, maintenance tech, and service tech before assuming his current position.
This is not the first accolade Elliott has earned in his HVAC career. He has received the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Top Tech Award, and his company also was on Inc. magazine's fastest-growing companies list two years in a row.
"It is my goal to create a profitable enterprise by helping clients stay comfy and helping my team build life-long careers," Elliott said.
The beginning of his HVAC career was a mother-knows-best story. Elliott's mother received a service call from a friendly technician and knew HVAC service would be a perfect fit for her son.
"She got his card and had me reach out to him to learn," Elliott said. "The rest is history."
Company: Casteel Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical
Title: Executive vice president
Richard Eppers was hired in 2005 as a service technician for Casteel Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical and within two weeks was promoted to the role of service manager. Now a 12-year veteran of the company and the executive vice president, Eppers has been a driving force in the company's expansion that helped grow payroll from 20 employees to more than 200. He played an integral part in helping the company add electrical and plumbing divisions.
"I am truly passionate about reaching as many homeowners as possible on a regional and national level," Eppers said. "I hope to continue expanding my market and encouraging HVAC professionals to continue growing their skill set to stay above the changes in our industry and stay at the forefront of the home services industry. The standards and beliefs of the company focus on working with the highest integrity, professionalism, and always having customers' best interests in mind. I hope to have the opportunity to change the face of our industry to one of professionalism, high-level training, and expertise. A well-trained, tactful, and experienced HVAC professional is invaluable."
Company: Rawal Devices Inc.
Title: National product support manager
Nick Faxon has been involved in the HVAC industry for more than 15 years. He started his career as an HVAC apprentice in contracting and joined Rawal Devices Inc. in 2010 as the company's first technical support representative. Within a few years, Faxon elevated his technical capabilities and was promoted to the technical support manager in 2013. He is currently Rawal Devices' national product support manager.
"My career goals are to continue to develop the technical knowledge that has led me to become the national product support manager," Faxon said. "I plan to continue to grow my training abilities to become a leader throughout the HVAC industry."
Ultimately, every new and retrofit project Faxon encounters presents challenges that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the buildings' HVAC systems. Faxon guides HVAC professionals to ensure that ASHRAE standards are met while optimizing DX air conditioning equipment operation with the company's APR Control.
Company: St. Cloud Refrigeration
Title: Vice president of industrial refrigeration and service/maintenance
Mark Fitch puts the "R" in HVACR. He works for St. Cloud Refrigeration, a mechanical contracting firm based in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Starting as a parts runner, he has been involved in all aspects of the industry and St. Cloud Refrigeration's operations.
"My grandfather, Don Fitch, started SCR in 1957," Mark Fitch said. "Today, my grandfather is 92 years old, and we still talk shop. His claim to fame is that he put the ice man out of business with DX refrigeration. My father, Mike Fitch, and his partner, Pat Welty, succeeded my grandfather and grew the company to what it is today. To put it in a nutshell, this industry is in my blood, and I couldn't imagine doing anything different."
He helps design custom refrigeration and HVAC systems to meet customers' temperature requirements.
"We call them special projects at SCR because a customer will come to us with a problem or an idea and will need a product or a perishable food cooled down to a certain temperature in a certain time limit," Mark Fitch said.
"Myself and SCR have been very successful in meeting these unique requirements."
Company: Shearer Supply Inc.
Title: Commercial and geothermal product manager
Cody Gebhart started in the HVAC industry under adverse conditions. He had lost his job in the summer of 2004 and was unemployed for four months before taking a job as a security guard for minimum wage. Every morning he would read the help wanted section of the Dallas Morning News.
"I ran across an ad one day for a company looking for someone with good skills working with numbers and sense of organization," Gebhart said. "I sent in my résumé and had an interview a couple of days later. I guess I said all the right things because Wayne Shearer, Michelle Shearer-Rodriguez, and Abel Rodriguez changed my life that same day and offered me a position at Shearer Supply."
Gebhart has been integral in growing Shearer's commercial department and has developed several exceptional commercial practices.
Company: Professional HVAC/R Services Inc.
Title: General manager
As general manager for Professional HVAC/R Services, Elizabeth Gerber does a little bit of everything, including scheduling, training, human resources, customer communication, etc.
"My introduction to the refrigeration trades came when I applied for a position doing code and permitting work at Professional," Gerber said. "My background is in architecture, and I had limited HVACR knowledge. Joe and the team here are passionate about HVACR and started teaching me about the refrigeration trade — it just took off from there."
Gerber's guidance has allowed the company to prosper.
"My biggest HVAC accomplishments are working with the Professional HVAC/R team to improve processes for our customers and staff and qualifying to sit for the architecture licensing exam as a result of my experience here at Professional," Gerber said.
Company: LG Electronics USA Air Conditioning Technologies
Title: Senior regional sales manager, Pacific region
Scott Gilchrist has been an outstanding member of the HVAC industry for nearly 15 years, working as a sales engineer in the highly competitive Southern California market. For the past seven years, he's served as a regional commercial sales engineer for LG Electronics USA Air Conditioning Technologies, capturing numerous awards and accolades within the organization, including being named the Top Sales Person for the West Region in both 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he was named the Top Sales Person for the USA.
He was recently promoted to senior regional sales manager overseeing the entire Pacific region. In this expanded role, Gilchrist provides ongoing training and education to design engineers, mechanical contractors, architects, owners, and developers regarding variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology.
"With three young children myself, my main goal is to help drive the use of energy-efficient technologies for a more sustainable future for generations to come," Gilchrist said. "I aim to change the way customers think about applying air conditioning and heating to their buildings to not only optimize energy efficiency but also increase tenant comfort."
Company: Johnson Controls Inc.
Title: Independent distribution channel account manager
The Groh family name is well known in HVAC circles. Eric Groh, independent distribution channel account manager for Johnson Controls Inc., is one of many family members who have made a living in the industry.
"My great-grandfather founded George Groh & Sons in 1918 in Emporia, Kansas, a sheet metal contractor still in business today as a roofing contractor," Groh said. "My grandfather and father both had decades-long careers in the industry working for Lennox, Titus, and Pottorff, among others. My brother and sister are also employed by the construction trades. In fact, I have pictures with Dave Lennox and I as a youngster — back in the late 80s and early 90s."
Groh serves as a board member for the Joseph Groh Foundation, a 501c3 foundation dedicated to assisting those in the construction trades with life-altering disabilities. To date, the foundation has provided more than $350,000 in grants to 43 individuals in 18 states.
Company: Sid Harvey Industries Inc.
Sean Harvey, great-grandson of founder, Sid Harvey, has greatly contributed to the tremendous growth of Sid Harvey Industries.
"Honestly, I never really knew what my father did for work, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life after high school," Sean Harvey said. "I started working here in 2005 in a warehouse. I thought it was going to be a temporary thing. Time flew as I found success at every corner. I worked through numerous positions in numerous locations and took a hiatus to serve a tour of duty in Iraq in 2008-2009. Since returning, I've worked my way up to manager and have been involved with key decisions made in the company."
Over the last few years, Sean Harvey has become more involved on the corporate side. He has direct involvement with not only his branch but routinely places purchase orders for the region and national distribution center. In addition to helping the purchasing department identify which products the company should be stocking nationally, he has worked closely with the trade pricing department to revamp the distributor's pricing structure.
Company: Aire Serv, Dwyer Group
Title: Brand manager
Mary Hromadka has taken the helm of marketing for the international heating and air conditioning brand Aire Serv and guided more than 200 franchise locations through a complete logo redesign, market focus research process, and brand refresh implementation. Before starting at Aire Serv, Hromadka had a connection to the HVAC industry.
"My husband owns a commercial refrigeration business, and I have been exposed to the industry for more than 12 years," Hromadka said. "After my previous role as a marketing director for automotive dealerships, the opportunity arose for me to mesh my HVAC knowledge and marketing expertise to manage marketing for a heating and air conditioning brand with locations all over the U.S."
Hromadka has helped the company navigate complex waters through the rollout of the umbrella brand initiative with all of the Dwyer Group sister brands internationally. And, at the same time, the franchisees' effective customer awareness in the marketplace has skyrocketed.
Company: NICE Home Services
Title: Vice president of client relations
Cherie Hudson has spent her entire adult life working behind the scenes of the HVAC industry, passionately supporting business and technicians. Hudson joined NICE Home Services in 2012 and has helped the company grow from $500,000 to more than $3 million in revenue yearly.
"My aunt and uncle own an air conditioning company in Florida. After growing up in the a/c office, I began answering the phones for emergency service after hours," Hudson said. "Officially beginning my career at 21 doing energy calculations, I was able to learn everything from bookkeeping and human resources to service coordinator and office manager.
Hudson also developed www.myhvactools.com, a website dedicated to improving technical, sales, and customer service skills for technicians in the field.
"My goal is to help build NICE Home Services into the number one HVAC company in the world," Hudson said. "As part of that goal, I will help develop personal training systems for technicians to help them reach their monetary, professional, and personal goals."
Company: Standard Air, Plumbing, and Insulation
Title: General manager
After a brief career in banking, Tyler Kime now runs a large, successful HVAC company in Birmingham, Alabama.
"My father, Tom Kime, kept family and business mostly separate, and I didn't know how an air conditioning unit worked until I started working at Standard in 2005," Tyler Kime said. "I worked in banking for two years after college and decided to come back home and work for Standard. My dad handed me his training books from 1969, when he attended Trane's training courses in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I started as a helper on an install truck and then did whatever he asked me to do as I learned the business and gained trust and confidence from our team."
The company added insulation a few years ago with its home-performance group and intends to add electrical, which it believes is the next step to provide even more services to its customers.
"Our company goal is 10 percent revenue growth annually, which will put us over $10 million in two years and $15 million within five to seven years," Tyler Kime said.
Company: Logan A/C & Heat Services
Title: Communications and marketing director
Amanda Kinsella is the communications and marketing director at Logan A/C & Heat Services for the Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati, Ohio, markets. Throughout her 10-year career at Logan Services, she has worn many hats and taken on multiple roles within the company, including everything from answering the phones to scheduling service and sales calls to leading the big-box retail division. She also worked endless hours meeting potential customers at home shows and being the star of the company's TV commercials.
"I didn't grow up in HVAC and actually worked in TV news before joining the industry," Kinsella said. "I had the privilege of meeting a few employees from Logan Services before joining the team, and everyone seemed so genuine and caring."
Kinsella started off as a sales coordinator before beginning to take on many marketing projects. Under her leadership, the company's Facebook fan base has grown organically to more than 10,000 followers, and the company has enjoyed double-digit sales growth for the last decade.
Company: One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Virginia Beach
Title: Vice president
Ryan Kletz learned the family business inside and out while making his way up to the vice president position. Perhaps his biggest HVAC accomplishment is developing what he considers a game-changing training program that allows the company to bring new people into the trade and organization. That program has helped the company experience double-digit growth for the past 10 years. Kletz also spearheaded the company's evolvement into a true 24/7/365 operation.
"This was something we used to say we did, but we didn't truly believe it in our hearts," Kletz said. "Now, our entire team believes in the idea of serving our clients when they need us. My business goals are to continue to produce double-digit growth, double-digit profitability, and a customer service score that ranks our team with the likes of Ritz-Carlton, Starbucks, and the likes."
Kletz is also heavily involved in the philanthropic initiative One Hour Cares.
Title: Director of business analytics and insights
Jason Krantz is a pioneer at the forefront of the data-driven transformation within the HVAC industry. As the leader of business analytics and insights for Weil-McLain and Marley Engineered Products, he has elevated analytics as a foundational pillar to drive strategy across the business. In the three short years, Krantz's teams have built analytics muscle and transformed the decision-making processes in the organization.
"I saw an excellent opportunity to build an analytics team and capability with my current company," Krantz said. "We are a great organization with great brands and excellent market presence, so the situation was perfect."
One of his accomplishments included building a set of visualization tools that takes data and analysis out of the spreadsheet and delivers easily digestible snapshots to sales, marketing, product management, and engineering leaders to inform functional strategies.
Company: Schneller Plumbing, Heating, and Air
Title: General manager
On Jeremy Lee's wedding night, Kris Knochelmann — owner of Schneller Plumbing, Heating, and Air — talked to Lee after his first dance with his new bride, Knochelmann's niece. He asked if Lee would be interested in a position at his HVAC company. Lee said, "Yes," and started in HVAC maintenance. He's also held the positions of comfort advisor and sales manager before eventually becoming general manager.
One of Lee's great accomplishments was helping develop and launch a technician app and comfort advisor app that allows employees to build options and pricing right on their tablets and make presentations to customers with the use of videos and PDFs. This has helped increase overall revenue along with IAQ sales, lead conversions, and gross margins.
"My goal is to give back to the industry that has given me so much," Lee said. "This industry has opened doors for my family and I beyond our wildest imagination."
Company: The ACT Group Inc.
For most of his adult life, James Mueller has been helping HVAC contractors sell. He got involved in the industry almost by accident. After graduating from college, a close friend who was already working for ACT asked him to join the team. He started filling boxes and handling the logistics for seminars hosted across the nation. Fast-forward 13 years later, and Mueller has worked his way up to running the company.
"I enjoy working with many of the best distributors and dealers across the nation," Mueller said. "For me, there's no greater thrill than getting an email or phone call after class from an excited graduate eager to share what he or she has accomplished since class."
As participants, products, and technologies change, Mueller and his team are constantly updating their processes and programs and looking for new and creative ways to improve the long-term impact of training.
"It's an honor to get to work with a team of the best trainers in the industry," Mueller said. "They're all great instructors who are passionate about what they do, but even more importantly, they're phenomenal people."
Company: Lennox Industries Inc.
Title: Vice president of residential marketing
Prior to entering the HVAC industry, Quan Nguyen spent time in the Army, earned his MBA, and spent a few years consulting. Now, Nguyen is the vice president of residential marketing for Lennox.
"It took me 10 years to figure out what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do," Nguyen said. "I knew I wanted to work in an industry that made a concrete product that people really needed instead of just designing websites. I wanted it to have some level of technology and sophistication, and I wanted something rooted in business fundamentals, such as manufacturing, distribution, marketing, sales, and service. Lastly, I wanted to work in an industry with good, salt-of-the-earth people. When I was approached by Lennox, I knew that was it," Nguyen said.
One of Nguyen's biggest HVAC accomplishments was launching LennoxPros.com.
"Our B2B portal was decaying," Nguyen said. "It wasn't mobile, responsive, or user-friendly. Over the past five years, we've gone down a path to innovate our B2B portal to serve our increasingly tech-savvy customer base."
Company: Kalos Services Inc.
As if running a top-rated HVAC contracting company wasn't enough, Bryan Orr also finds time to educate the next generation of HVAC workers.
The cofounder of Kalos Services Inc., Orr also founded and runs hvacrschool.com. Via the website, he has developed one of the fastest-growing technical HVAC podcasts and blogs in the industry and emails daily tech tips to technicians all around the country.
"The reception the content has received has been great," Orr said. "The support I have been given by amazing teachers, like Jim Bergmann, Jack Rise, and Dan Holohan, has me counting my blessings every day. I would like to play a supporting role in helping the HVACR trade fill the skills gap and increase the prestige of the industry for the next generation."
Orr always had a knack for educating as he helped create the service training program for his first employee at 21 years old.
He has built a great contracting business, which, in 12 years, has grown from three employees to 54.
Company: Refrigeration Technologies
Mike Pastorello's father started Refrigeration Technologies in 1987. He joined the company in 2003 to keep the family business running for another generation.
"We provide professional-grade specialty chemical products that are tailor-made to each technician's needs without compromising their safety or environment," Pastorello said.
Some of the biggest HVAC accomplishments Pastorello has had since joining the company include adopting the use of safer ingredients to their chemical formulas without compromising product performance, innovating new products that help technicians save time and money, and rebranding the company.
"The goal in rebranding was finding out why we exist and telling customers our story," Pastorello said. "We did this both in person and through digital infrastructure."
Pastorello currently sits on the western regional board of directors for Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI).
Company: The New Flat Rate Inc.
As president of The New Flat Rate Inc., Danielle Putnam runs a staff of 14 people that service the needs of hundreds of in-home service contractors. She runs all aspects of this fast-growing business and oversees administration, marketing, and management on a daily basis. Her consistence and persistence continuously results in a powerful tool being used by contractors in all 50 states as well as Canada and Australia.
She grew up in the industry. Her father, Rodney Koop, was a contractor who religiously taught his nine kids that money comes from hard work. Putnam now works with her father at The New Flat Rate. She is also serving as the incoming vice president for the Women in HVACR organization.
"I'm proud to be a woman in our industry who has been embraced by our industry," Putnam said. "It's not about gender; it's about saying yes to opportunity, putting your best foot forward, and doing it right. My answer to new opportunities and difficult challenges has always been to say yes — say yes, and we'll find a way to do it. This attitude has led to many open doors within our industry."
Company: Service Experts
Title: Installation supervisor
Stephen Rardon is the kind of HVAC technician who is always trying to better himself. In 2006, he created a YouTube channel to share his HVAC knowledge. The channel is now followed by more than 12,000 technicians.
In 2016, he created a Facebook group where HVAC techs share their knowledge and insight on the industry. The group currently has 3,000 members.
"When I started my YouTube channel, it was never intended to be a training session, it was always just a 'watch me work' thing," Rardon said. "For that to go from a hobby to having people contact me, ask questions, and say, 'Your vidoes have taught me so much,' is incredibly humbling. It's mind blowing to think of where it started and that it's grown to nearly 12,000 subscribers."
Rardon's dream is to open his own shop specializing in detailed service and home-performance testing.
Company: Packard Inc.
Title: Creative director
Neal Reeves came from a background in banking with an education in engineering, but he was looking to be a part of an industry that was exciting and intriguing. He found a perfect fit in the HVAC world. Reeves is currently the creative director for Packard Inc.
"From day one I've been fascinated with everything I learn, and I'm excited to show this industry how great Packard is," Reeves said.
Internally, he works closely with product development to market the latest quality products to the industry. He's also played a key role in the implementation of a new system of detailed communication among several internal departments, including customer service, marketing, product development, and sales.
"My career HVAC goals are to continue to build Packard's brand as a company that thrives on integrity, honor, and always putting customers first," Reeves said. "Through this, I hope Packard grows into one of the go-to companies for all HVAC products."
Company: MasterTech Plumbing, Heating and Cooling
Title: HVAC department manager and lead HVAC technician
After 20 years as a plumbing company, MasterTech elected to add HVAC services. In 2012, the company hired C.J. Roe to help, and he has single-handedly built the HVAC division from the ground up. Since 2012, HVAC sales have increased by more than 300 percent from barely $100,000 in the first year to $430,000 last year.
"Helping to develop an HVAC department from a plumbing-only company has been the biggest accomplishment in my career," Roe said.
He has juggled a lot of responsibilities in the company while continuing on his personal quest for knowledge by attending 35 hours of technical and factory training and 45 hours of business development training through Bryant and Business Development Resource (BDR). He has met all requirements to qualify as a Bryant factory authorized dealer, has achieved his journeyman mechanical license through the local municipality, is North American Technician Excellence (NATE)-certified, and has his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) universal license.
Company: Rose Heating and Air Conditioning
Travis Rose started working for his father sweeping shop floors at 12 years old. As a teen, he started helping out around the shop with sheet metal projects and, as he got older, continued on to new construction sites expanding his knowledge and skills. After graduating high school, Rose became a full-time installation and service technician for the next 13 years. While accomplishing this, he was attending multiple tech classes regularly throughout the Midwest and attending college for his business management degree. At age 31, Rose moved up to service and operations manager, and, at 35, he took full ownership of the company.
"As a third-generation business owner, my main focus is to continue to grow my business without forgetting what the business has been over the past 55 years," said Rose. "The basis has always been top-notch customer service, first and foremost. There are too many times in this industry that I have seen businesses grow exponentially, and the first aspect that suffers is their customer service. Our customers — internal and external — are what has made this company so successful over the past 55 years. To ever lose sight of that is not an option."
Company: A.N. Roth Co.
Title: General manager
Richard Roth has beaten the family business odds. While only 3 percent of family businesses operate at the fourth-generation level, Roth is part of the fifth generation at A.N. Roth Co., where he serves as general manager.
"I primarily design, sell, and coordinate larger installations as well as manage the installation department. I also oversee and make final decisions on overall company direction and policy," Roth said.
Roth was born into the industry and has been working in the business since he was able to turn a screwdriver and sweep a floor. While in high school, he worked summers on an installation crew.
"My career goal is to continue to grow this business both culturally and monetarily," Roth said. "I want A.N. Roth Co. to have the highest level of quality and customer service while also being a great place to work and retire."
Company: Parker Hannifin — Sporlan Division
Title: Division marketing manager
When Mark Schmalz was 8 years old, he'd go to work with his father and write letters on Sporlan letterhead about how great he thought the company was. Schmalz said those trips with his father — a retired Sporlan sales engineer after 37 years — made him feel that Sporlan was a special place, but it never occurred to him he'd be working there years later.
Schmalz, now a division marketing manager, still has those letters in his office at Parker Hannifin's Sporlan division, illustrating his long history with the company. Schmalz has held a variety of positions while at Sporlan. He started as an industrial engineer in 2003, progressed through the ranks to marketing services manager in 2009, and then made a major jump to business development manager in China in 2011.
Returning home in 2013, Schmalz became marketing manager, ultimately moving to his current position.
"The great thing about Parker Sporlan is that those doors will open if you want them to," he said. "It's up to you to choose to go through them or not."
Company: Frederick Air Inc.
Title: Operations manager
Dave Schmidt grew up in his family's HVAC business. After joining the U.S. Marines and a deployment in Iraq; the operations manager joined Frederick Air in 2010, selling home performance and duct sealing. In 2013, he stepped into the role of sales manager and was responsible for a residential in-home sales rep, an Aeroseal sales person, and a home energy auditor. At the time, the sales process in the company was slow and inefficient. Schmidt took a pricing system and paper-based proposal presentation and made it completely seamless and paperless. As a result, the company now boasts an electronic customer presentation that includes financing, work orders, and rebates.
The result of the efficiency enabled the company's comfort consultant to spend his time selling instead of doing paperwork.
"I want to continue to build the single-best customer service experience that an HVAC company can offer," Schmidt said. "My goal is to use technology and processes to keep our business profitable so that we can continue being an outrageously generous member of our community."
Company: LG Electronics USA Air Conditioning Technologies
Title: Senior distribution manager, eastern U.S.
Romeo Sy originally was looking at a career in physical therapy. However, when he decided sales was a better fit, he found a home at LG. He started in the company's commercial air conditioning division and worked his way up the organization. In doing so, he captured more than a few awards, including the Golden Hammer Award, which recognized his top sales achievements in 2016.
"My HVAC goals are very simple," Sy said. "I am part of an innovative team that strongly believes in changing the way we do HVAC in the U.S. My goal is to help lead my company in supporting and educating our customers as well as securing our position as the technological giant we are."
Sy currently leads LG Electronics' air conditioning technologies distribution sales for the Eastern U.S. as a regional DFS sales manager. In this role, he develops strategic growth plans for existing and new acquisition accounts and oversees implementation of programs.
Dr. Marwa Zaatari
Company: enVerid Systems
Title: Director of system performance and IAQ
Dr. Marwa Zaatari is a leader in the energy-efficiency and IAQ industries, bringing her expertise to companies around the world through her innovative research, analysis, and speaking engagements. Zaatari is at the forefront of developing practical strategies to enable buildings to reach the optimal energy cost for the maximum IAQ benefits.
She is helping to shape the next performance-based HVAC standards by serving as the chair of the Indoor Air Quality Procedure (IAQP) Committee for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), where she led the industry in defining the minimum standards for IAQ in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings and established the first IAQ pilot credit (EQpc68); vice chair of the IAQP Working Group for ASHRAE (T-TAC-TRG4.IAQP); voting member of the ASHRAE Technical Committee for Gaseous Air Contaminants and Gas Contaminant Removal Equipment (T-TAC-TC02.03); and voting member of the ASHRAE Standard 62.1 sub-committee and Minimum Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality (T-STDS-SSPC 62.1) standard.
Company: KeepRite Refrigeration
Title: Vice president of engineering
After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree with an interest in heat transfer and thermodynamics, Vince Zolli found employment in his hometown when he received a job offer from KeepRite Refrigeration. Fast-forward 17 years, and Zolli has been working in the same field for the same company since graduation.
Some of his biggest HVAC accomplishments include three patents and one patent pending in the commercial refrigeration design, a 2015 AHR Expo Innovation Award, and professional growth achieved with a manufacturer company in commercial refrigeration.
"Many of my goals have been achieved to date, but I have a continuous drive for future innovation while staying on top of industry trends and technology," Zolli said. "I look forward to eventually passing on my experiences and knowledge."
Zolli was promoted to vice president of engineering for KeepRite Refrigeration in 2017.
Publication date: 8/28/2017
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