South / Regional Reports

Growing the Service End Spurs Contractor's Success

January 11, 2001
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
Rick True stands next to some plasma cutter art in Batchelor's shop area.

MOBILE, AL — Rick True can look out of his office and see the future. He knows that new construction will eventually slow down, and he doesn’t want to ride the roller coaster of an up-and-down economic wave. The general manager of Batchelor’s Mechani-cal Contractors, Inc./Comfort Systems USA knows which side his bread will be buttered on.

“We want to continue to grow our service business, because it isn’t affected by new construction and the related effects of the interest rates,” he said.

According to True, that’s a wise decision because the Mobile area does not have a lot of big industry to attract new workers and businesses. But that’s O.K. His community, his company, and the 250 employees that work there are a big part of his life. Batchelor’s is expected to do $20 to $25 million worth of business in 2000, which in a community of 300,000 people is quite an accomplishment.

A Little Background

Larry Batchelor and his father, Bruce, founded the company in 1967, specializing in residential new construction. True came on board in 1974, having been schooled in hvac by Trane’s Consumer Products Division. In 1980, Larry Batchelor, Dave Fannon, and True combined to form Batchelor’s Mechanical. The company’s roots in residential work laid the groundwork for the new venture into commercial new construction and service.

“In the late 80s we joined Service America,” True said. “We learned a lot from Ron Smith about residential service, and today we still do about 15 percent residential service and replacement. We have 2,500 residential service agreements and have one person to oversee the entire service agreement system.”

True said his company is in the process of increasing its commercial service business, and his geographical territory should give him a good starting point to build that business. Besides working in the Biloxi/Gulfport region of Mississippi to the west, Batchelor’s is working in the large condominium community of Destin, FL, to the east.

The company’s success drew the attention of “pretty much all of the consolidators” said True. He felt it was a good idea to listen to all sales pitches for a number of reasons.

“A lot of factors were involved,” True said of the decision to sell to a consolidator. “We had three owners from different families with no children involved in the business. This seemed like an appealing exit strategy, and we were impressed with Comfort Systems USA.

“Being involved with a national company offers career paths which gives our employees the opportunity to move and grow. They are the ones that helped build our business and we weren’t going to stick them with just any new owner.”

“We’ve also got a lot of good people who have been with us for a long time. We want to take care of them,” True said. “And we believe in being consistent in our pricing and our bidding, which is really no big secret to success.”

For more information, visit www.batchelors (website).

Publication date: 01/15/2001

Web date: 06/18/2001

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

Recent Articles by John Hall

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.


NEWSMakers: Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. and author of “The One Week Marketing Plan” talks about his book and the importance of HVAC blogging. Posted on Sept. 19.

More Podcasts


NEWS 09-22-14 cover

2014 September 22

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Venting R-22

The NEWS reported that a man received prison time for venting R-22. Should EPA step up enforcement?
View Results Poll Archive


2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con