ACHRNEWS

LINC Service Group ‘Arrives' in Florida

May 8, 2006
The “Setting the Pace Sand Sculpting Challenge” pitted teams of Linc Service contractors against each other in an event that put their creativity, artistic ability, problem-solving skills, and organizational talents to the test.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Scott Giacobbe told a gathering of more than 100 franchise owners that they and their organizations had "arrived" as the premier service organization for professional HVAC contractors. Giacobbe, president/CEO of Linc Network LLC, told attendees that the goal of the Linc Service Network is to be best in class in all of its business disciplines. He complimented the group on their significant achievements during 2005 and spoke of tremendous opportunities within the industry - especially with the heightened focus on energy usage and conservation - now and in the foreseeable future.

Sun, surf, and sand combined to provide the perfect backdrop for the 2006 Linc Service® Principals Meeting and All-Star Diamond Event/Incentive Trip held recently at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The meeting commenced with training for Linc's newest principals and was followed by a reception at the spa pool where attendees had an opportunity to meet Linc staff members and mingle with present and former Contractors of the Year.

On Wednesday morning, the annual golf outing took participants to the TPC Heron Bay course. Other guests enjoyed the complimentary beach/pool cabana complete with TV, cold drinks, and a comfortable place to take an afternoon nap or catch up with old friends before the business sessions began.

Bert Kendall, Sr. VP of Linc Corp. talks to a group of more than 100 Linc Service contractors who gathered for a Principals Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently.
Informative workshop sessions took place over the next three days, including an abbreviated "Industry Perspective" from Giacobbe. The Linc Report overview was presented by Senior Vice President Bert Kendall and included individual breakout sessions on Improving Gross Profit; Increasing Maintenance Base; Technology; and Service Representative Career Opportunities. Additional course offerings on Bundled Energy Solutions, Vertical Marketing, and Operational Excellence were facilitated by Linc staff members and generated interest and excitement during the morning breaks and Principals' Roundtable.

Giacobbe talked about the franchise organization of which he has been a member for nearly 10 years. "Our major strengths are found in our members and in the processes we provide to them," Giacobbe said. "We offer a large number of services in operations, sales, marketing, and networking for our contractors. Linc is in a constant state of refinement, thereby providing franchise owners with the very best systems with which to serve their customers."

In addition to its processes, Giacobbe said of his company, "The expert support staff makes a huge difference in how we are able to respond to the needs of our franchisees." Six area vice presidents (AVPs) are charged with increasing sales and helping contractors adopt new systems.

Kendall described the AVPs' relationships with franchisees as ones of "long-time friends." The culture of Linc is very much family-oriented especially at the meetings.

"It's not unusual for an AVP to stay at a contractor member's house when traveling," said Kendall. "The average length of time most franchisees have been with Linc is more than 10 years. Likewise, our AVPs have been in the HVAC industry and our network for many years; they are not only great business consultants for our franchisees, they also become trusted friends," said Kendall.

WINNERS ALL AROUND

When Bill Moore, president/CEO of Temp-Control Mechanical Service Corp. (TCMS), a Linc Service contractor, went to work for the franchise organization in 1987 as an AVP, he may not have expected to become the 2005 Linc Service Contractor of the Year. However, it is likely that somewhere along the line Moore set some pretty lofty goals for himself.

Moore soon became a senior vice president with AVPs reporting to him. The opportunity for an equity stake in a contracting company lured him away from the parent organization in 2001. He eventually bought that company in 2004, and set his sights higher than most.

"Many companies only focus on two key areas of growth for their companies. At Linc, we call them ‘project' and ‘spot,' which are one-time shots each year. Both are important, but to be extremely successful with the Linc program a company must broaden its focus," said Moore.

Having worked with contractors for so many years, Moore brought a personal expertise in selling service to his own company. "Energy rates are really low in the Pacific Northwest but owners still are very concerned. We find that customers who value keeping their HVAC systems running are the best service customers."

As Linc principals prepared for their final day of training on Saturday, the Linc Service Network's top sales professionals, known as Diamond Award Winners, treated themselves to some rest and relaxation either poolside or on one of two optional outings: the Everglades Tour or a Deep Sea Fishing excursion. On Saturday evening, during the President's Awards Banquet, the accomplishments of 23 Diamond Award winners, eight Employees of the Year, two Contractors of the Year, and more than 28 principals were celebrated while special recognition for more than 20 years of dedicated service was bestowed upon executive assistant Carol Wuerthele.

Scott Giacobbe (left), Linc president/CEO of Linc Network, LLC, and Bill Moore (middle), president/CEO of Temp-Control Mechanical Service Corp. (TCMS), brave the Florida winds in March during the Linc Service contractors Principals Meeting.

OPERATIONAL EXPERTISE

Linc operates training centers in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, conducting classes approximately 40 weeks each year. Giacobbe said, "Many markets are being driven by energy factors today. Linc is creating additional training for our members and tools to help facility owners understand how maintenance will keep their energy costs under control." The LincWareâ„¢ Technology Suite is a software platform offered by The Linc Group, Linc's parent company, to track and report all facets of facility management in real-time and provide peer-to-peer collaboration.

Linc staff discussed LincWare and other systems during breakout sessions of the conference.

Kendall said that one of the key strengths of the operation is the large number of services provided for operations, sales, marketing, and networking. "One of our strongest selling points to facility owners is that Linc service contractors do all the work themselves regarding bundled services. Linc contractors have a true vertical expertise in the area of HVAC service. A single-source provider is very important to them," he said.

Kendall added that the technology platform offers best-in-class solutions thereby providing a clear differentiation for Linc contractors. "Building owners want to focus on other things and leave their HVAC systems to Linc."

Today, the Linc Service Network is comprised of more than 130 franchisees, 14 of which are owned by The Linc Group. Giacobbe has been with Linc since 1996, working his way up from general manager of the Atlanta franchise to president/CEO of The Linc Corp. in 2002. Linc Corp. grew out of the Limbach Construction Group in 1979 and was later purchased by Enron Energy Services. A few years after the acquisition, Enron declared bankruptcy and the group of companies of which Linc was a part - dubbed ServiceCo - took on a new form. The Service Co companies emerged from the bankruptcy and were purchased by The Linc Group, a provider of facility performance services to building owners and operators. In early 2005, The Linc Corp. changed its name to that of Linc Network LLC; however the foothold within the commercial HVAC service industry was firmly established by virtue of the group's 25-year history. Today, the Linc Service Network of Contractors is well-known throughout the industry.

The 2007 Linc Service Principals Meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Resort in Maui, Hawaii. For more information on Linc franchise opportunities, visit www.lincservice.com or call 724-873-2948.

Sidebar: A Five-Time Contractor of the Year Winner

John Cloutier, president of Nordic Mechanical Services Ltd., sold his previous construction company in Edmonton, Alberta, and decided to start fresh with a company that focused entirely on service. His first year was dedicated to selling nothing but maintenance agreements. From these inauspicious beginnings in 1994 with only three employees, the company has doubled in size numerous times and now boasts of 54 employees.

Cloutier attributes this uncanny growth and success to fervently following the principles of the Linc Systemâ„¢. Following the program has yielded some impressive results for the diehard LINC member. Cloutier's company has earned Contractor of the Year honors five times, has placed second twice, and third once.

Linc Service contractors know how tough this annual competition is to win just one time. Fred Haynes, president of Haynes Mechanical Systems of Denver, Colo., said, "The top five or six contractors each year are usually separated by tenths of a point. The award is based upon a 100-point rating scale, and nowadays, if your company isn't above 95 points, it's hard to win." Haynes knows a little about tough competition. His company received Contractor of the Year honors in 2003.

When asked what it takes for a company to be consistently considered for top honors, Cloutier had this to say: "There are four categories that require growth in order to be considered at all. The challenge principals have is to invest in all four sectors simultaneously; it's not always an easy thing to do. The Linc System has enabled us to be very successful as a company that is completely focused on service."

What advice would a multiyear Contractor of the Year Award winner offer to other commercial HVAC service companies? "The overall goal must be something bigger than the growth of your own company," Cloutier said. "You must truly believe that you have a positive affect on the building inhabitants, and know that what you do is valuable."

Nordic Mechanical has a 97 percent customer retention rating. Cloutier notes that working with his mentors and peers within the Linc Service Network is "like having 200 years of experience at my fingertips. We benefit from the experiences of everyone who has scaled the same plateaus that challenge us each day."

Publication date: 05/08/2006