South / Regional Reports

Small Contracting Company Tackles Big Projects

April 20, 2001
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Robert Holub (left) and Robert Weathers of Centritech Services.


SANFORD, FL — Size doesn’t matter when it comes to chillers.

Well, yes, chillers have to be properly sized for specific installations or retrofits. But the company servicing such equipment doesn’t have to be big.

Consider Centritech Services Inc. of Sanford, FL. It has five technicians and one apprentice. Sounds about the right size for residential heating and a/c work.

But then consider that the company is in the suburbs of Orlando, FL, and suddenly the potential projects get a whole lot bigger. The Orlando area has earned the nickname “Hotel Heaven,” given the lure of nearby major theme parks. Here also are corporations attracted by the large population and year-round good weather.

So, since its establishment in 1997, Centritech has had technicians work on centrifugal liquid chillers up to 5,000 tons, tri-coil systems, ultra-low-temperature cascade refrigeration, and chilled water systems, as well as other hvacr applications. The company is a Carrier Five Star Commercial Dealer, although it also handles other manufacturers’ equipment.

Some specific jobs in recent years include:

  • Replacing two chillers at an Orlando airport hotel with 250- and 300-ton Carrier centrifugals;
  • Installing an owner-provided Trane air-cooled rotary screw liquid chiller at a corporate site in Orlando;
  • Doing emergency field fabrication of steam water heaters at a local medical center; and
  • Replacing a 450-ton chiller with a Carrier centrifugal running on R-134a at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, FL.
  • Although the company prefers to stay within 150 miles of its central Florida location, its reputation has brought the company its share of exotic jobs.

    Centritech technicians removed and replaced 1,140 cupro-nickel seawater condenser tubes on a McQuay centrifugal liquid chiller aboard a cruise ship while on route from Freeport, Bahamas, to Halifax, NS, Canada. Another assignment found employees replacing three chillers with three Carrier 30GT-150 air-cooled liquid chillers with copper finned condenser coils at a hotel and casino in the Dominican Republic.



    Advantages to Being Small

    Those are large projects for a small company. Corporate president Robert E. Weathers and vice president Robert D. Holub like it that way. They have some 40 years of combined experience in the maintenance, repair, and replacement of liquid chillers, pumps, and cooling towers, as well as other hvac equipment.

    Both worked for large contractors. Neither liked the politics sometimes present in large companies.

    “We said there has got to be a better way. So we decided to give it the college try,” said Weathers. In establishing Centritech, the original goal was to “stay really small with one, two, or three people,” said Weathers. “But we got overloaded with much more work than we could do.”

    This explains the growth to its current 10 employees (including the five techs).

    Centritech is a union contractor in a right-to-work state. But in the large commercial and industrial sector, union contractors have a foothold. All of the company’s service technicians are members of the United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Union and have completed a five-year apprenticeship or equivalent.

    The company relies on equipment manufacturers for training. Techs have attended schools conducted by Carrier, Trane, York, McQuay, Liebert, Copeland, and others.



    Communications

    The company’s size helps in internal communications, said Weathers. Step in from outside and you are in the office manager’s office. Two steps to the left and you’re in Weathers’ office. A few steps further and you’re at Holub’s office. The service manager’s office is next, then the storage area, and that’s about it.

    There’s no pretense involved in business protocol. If employees have questions or problems, they take them directly to the boss, and the issues are settled then and there.

    “This is not a hard place to work,” said Weathers. “We don’t have a lot of B.S.”

    The informality even includes some benefit flexibility. Weathers said, “We generally pay more than union scale if a technician is above average in skill level and attitude.”

    Current techs also get a voice in new hires.

    Weathers noted, “Our busy season is 365 days a year. So we encourage our techs to take time when they start getting burned out. We give our techs paid time off when they need it, outside of normal vacation days. This is usually related to particularly long or difficult jobs.”

    The company does no advertising.

    “We maintain a reputation as being the most quality-conscious contractor in central Florida,” said Weathers. “Our reputation in itself tends to keep us busy. We also have the ability to schedule work far enough in advance to smooth out the peaks and valleys.”

    This report provides information for contractors living in the South Mid-Atlantic/Southeast region of the United States. This includes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you have information from this region, please contact Peter Powell at 874-622-7260; 847-622-7266 (fax); or PowellBNP@aol.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 04/23/2001

    Web date: 06/18/2001

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