YPS Offers Family Atmosphere In A Big Company

February 21, 2002
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Ronda Johnson and Emily McQuiston run the company's human relations department.
AUSTIN, TX — Good working conditions and camaraderie can be vital to the success of a business. But these qualities don’t just “happen” — they originate from ownership. A great example of this comes from YPS here in Austin.

The commercial hvacr service company is the latest winner of The News’ “Best Contractor to Work For” contest for the South/Southwest region. The reason for winning was simple: Owners Glenn Randle and Scott Pargin are great to work for.

“Glenn and Scott are the best people to work for in the construction trade,” said Gary Perkins, YPS vice president and general manager of the Refrigeration Division. “No one has ever said anything bad about them.”

Judson Murphy, service manager, had higher accolades. “Most guys want to live and die here. They want to make their careers here. Some people would rather collect unemployment and wait for an opening in the YPS service department.”

“Glenn and Scott have created an atmosphere in the workplace where a person gets up in the morning and looks forward to coming to work,” said service manager Mark Maxwell.

Doug Jernigan Jr., vice president of YPS Facility Services, began with the company in 1984, cleaning the trucks. “I was working for another local contractor at the time, but I knew YPS was where I would eventually wind up,” he said.

Jerry Steinbrecher and Doug Jernigan keep YPS Facility Services running smoothly.

WHAT MAKES YPS SO GOOD

The company has become “home” to employees because of the family atmosphere. The give-and-take attitude dates back to the early days of Randle’s and Pargin’s careers. “Scott and I were employees before we became owners,” said Randle. “We know what employees want.”

Pargin said treating employees right has a trickle-down effect. “When you treat your people well, they treat each other well and they treat the customers well,” he said.

Randle fosters his employees’ ingenuity and creativity, often encouraging them to make their own mold. “We may even create new positions in our company for an employee,” he said. “The guys know about our commitment to them and they know it is genuine.”

Randle strives to keep his crews busy all year, even when things are slow. He attributes a consistent schedule to the service agreements his staff sells. “Judd [Murphy] and Mark [Maxwell] do a good job of keeping on top of the service agreement program,” Randle said. “They also do a good job of shifting the work load as we sell more service agreements. All of the guys need a good base of ‘Season Ticket’ holders — our service agreement customers.”

“Outside of the current economy, our winter months are just as busy as our summer months,” said Maxwell.

Another plus is the disability insurance the company recently instituted. “We all know that someone is going to need some sort of early disability in a company of 200 employees,” said Randle. “We gave employees long-term coverage and they have the option of purchasing short-term. This is a benefit that generally has not been available in this market.”

YPS matches people to their positions, which are spread out among several divisions. The News visited three locations in Austin: the main office, the Refrigeration Division, and the Facility Services/ Building Controls Division.

Randle pointed out a motivation for employees who want to move from field work into Facility Services. “This division provided a great opportunity for guys who have spent 20 years in the field, working on rooftop units and similar equipment,” he said. “They needed a break.

“Instead of retiring and the industry losing that talent and knowledge, we can bring in guys to head up the field projects from this division and bring in the younger guys to learn the field work. This is a way for older technicians to remain active in the trade.”

Perkins, who heads up the company’s Refrigeration Division, has a background that includes work for Johnson Controls and HEB, one of Texas’s leading supermarkets. He jumped at the chance to work at YPS. “Scott and Glen are the best people on Earth to work for,” he said. “They take care of their people. There is a lot of opportunity to grow here.”

“Gary had a lot of drive and success in our main office,” said Pargin. “We brought him in to head up this division and give him the opportunity for ownership. Now he has the chance to run his own ballgame and act as an entrepreneur.”

“There is a lot of trust here,” said Bob Farber, manager of the YPS Alerton Controls Division. “There is also a lot of close communication between divisions. I enjoy what I do and YPS gives me a lot of room to do what I enjoy.”

It’s not just the leadership that makes YPS such an impressive place to work. It is the products and services it sells. Jerry Steinbrecher, supervisor in the YPS Facility Division, believes the company is on the cutting edge of today’s technologies.

“The indoor air quality business is very lucrative, especially in Austin,” he said. “We are continuing to grow in that area. We are getting into more cleanroom technology, and we are building up our clientele because of the constant need for yearly ISO certification. We have a couple of the biggest customers in town and others are inviting us to bid.”

Owners Glenn Randle and Scott Pargin (from left) have earned high praise from service managers Mark Maxwell and Judson Murphy.

YOU CAN NEVER GET ENOUGH TRAINING

YPS places a huge emphasis on training, both before and after an employee is hired.

Pargin said his company primarily recruits out of Texas State Technical College (TSTC) in Waco, where he graduated before working at YPS. “When I came to work here, I completed five years of apprenticeship training before becoming a journeyman,” he said. “As we hire new apprentices from TSTC today, they follow the same training path.

“While serving their apprenticeship, they receive three hours of training two nights per week throughout the regular school year, combined with on-the-job training with journeyman technicians.

“I can’t imagine bringing in someone with no knowledge of the business and making them a service technician. There is just so much knowledge you need to have today.”

Randle also believes in having high-quality coursework available to his workers in the field. His apprentices carry laptop computers when they can’t make it in for classroom training. They can log onto a Web-based training program and study via the Internet. “There is a huge amount of technology out there that we encourage our guys to use,” Randle said.

“We don’t have minimum training requirements for our technicians, but we lay out all of the coursework that is available to them and track whatever progress they make as they complete these courses.”

Perkins said training sometimes comes right to the jobsite. “I’ve got four field supervisors who visit workers onsite and go over the job requirements,” he said. “And every Thursday we have some type of training session.”

Employees also share their knowledge gladly. “We’ve got five YPS service employees who instruct at the local union apprenticeship program and three sheet metal workers instructing, too,” said Randle.

Training at the Controls Division is not limited to employees; customers are also trained. “The nature of the business is very dynamic,” said George Zucca, controls manager. “We have to continually educate our employees and customers.”

Farber stressed the importance of product and system knowledge. “How can you expect to design a system without understanding how it works?”

The staff enjoys the camaraderie and family atmosphere at YPS, Inc. (Photos by Bo Parker.)

FAMILY FEELING

The atmosphere starts right at the top with Pargin and Randle. Each of their daughters works in the main office, running the human relations department (and keeping an eye on their fathers).

Emily (Pargin) McQuiston and Ronda (Randle) Johnson draw heaps of praise for their work. “They take care of a lot of the details involving issues important to the guys,” said Pargin.

Steinbrecher is impressed by the attention to employees’ families. “I’ll guarantee you that Glen can tell you the names of every employee’s kids,” he said. “He knows the families. You are not treated like someone who just shows up for a paycheck; you are treated like family.”

Two of the YPS family, Murphy and Maxwell, are in fact being groomed to assume company ownership. “We’ve set the company up so it will go on to the next generation and they have the opportunity to succeed on their own,” Randle said. “We’ll stay involved as long as we can stay physically and mentally sharp enough.”

The plan includes the men who run each separate division of YPS. Each has been assigned to run the divisions like a separate business. Pargin and Randle have entrusted each team member to run the business in the tradition of the family-owned company — because someday it will be their own.

This family-run business combines the best of both worlds. Jernigan said YPS is well respected because the company maintains its family ownership without the characteristics of a “big conglomerate.”

“We have a good infrastructure and systems in place without a lot of the corporate red tape,” Jernigan said. “The culture is unique. There is definitely some magic here.”

Sidebar: Just The Facts

Name: YPS
Owners: Glenn Randle, Scott Pargin
Location: Austin, TX
Years in business: 34
Bulk of market: 95% commercial, 5% residential
Total revenue for 2001: $7.5 million
Total employees: 70
Total service technicians and installers: 50
Average hours employees spend in training: 122 hrs annually
Benefits offered beyond medical/dental insurance: Paid personal time, disability insurance, incentive program, discounted World Gym membership, wellness program, and 401(k) with employer matching.
The News selected this contractor because: The owners encourage their managers to learn the ropes in all the sectors of the business by treating their divisions/companies as separate entrepreneurial ventures. They offer ongoing training for all employees. A family atmosphere transcends bloodlines and includes all employees.

Publication date: 02/25/2002

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