Turn on the Tape Recorder and Let the Praises Flow
• How she met and keeps track of up-and-coming mandolin/fiddle/guitar player-musician Justin David;
• The wonders of best-selling author Roy Williams and his Wizard Academy in the foothills of Austin, Texas;
• The pros and cons of being a member of AirTime 500; and, of course,
• Her job, her employees, and life in general.
Now, take that same microphone and recorder and plant it near any one of Greiner’s 23 employees. The difference here is that, in the same amount of recording time, each will discuss only one subject: Patricia Greiner. And, it’s all good. Yes, each speaks highly about their boss - from installers and service techs to comfort advisors, to dispatchers, to receptionists, to general manager, and everyone else in between.
Example A: Install Manager Dennis Logan - “I have been here 15 years and can’t imagine any other company treating me, or other employees, as well as we are treated here.”
Example B: Seven-year service tech Shaun Satterwhite - “Our employer has provided a comfortable work place that allows the ability to make changes to the way things are done and give suggestions. There is never any fear in sharing your ideas with the employer and these ideas are given serious consideration. Patty’s forward thinking has provided cutting-edge tools to make each of us more productive and profitable.”
Example C: Dispatcher Rachelle Urzua - “Patty is very in tune with personalities, and if someone is having a bad day, she wants to know why so she can make it better. She is always willing to help out. She’ll loan you anything. I can look around my house and it’s filled with her generosity.”
But, wait. There’s more.
“She would go above and beyond to help anyone no matter what it took,” said Urzua, speaking of Greiner, before adding, “This job is a big part of my life. I feel good coming to work and being a part of such a great company. I have worked at Greiner almost 11 years. I would be devastated without my job.”
Devastated without my job? (When is the last time an employee of yours made such a glowing assessment?)
And, those were only three comments from three of 23 employees. Replay the taped conversations with every Greiner employee and it is very clear why the Dixon, Calif.-based contracting business was selected as the West region winner in The NEWS’ 2006 “Best Contractor To Work for” contest.
FEEL THE LOVEOne could not find a more hospitable place in Dixon, located approximately 25 miles from Sacramento International Airport. Step inside and one is immediately greeted by smiling receptionist Betty Cooney, who has been at Greiner for less than two years, but wishes she had started her career there.
“I was with another HVAC company. I was with an owner who took care of the guys. Not so here. Patty takes care of everybody,” said Cooney.
Listen to what the receptionist - or anyone else who picks up a call - is supposed to say every time she answers the phone: “It’s a great day at Greiner. How can we make you smile?” That, in itself, says a lot.
In Greiner’s world, it’s simple. There are outside customers, as well as inside customers - and never the two shall be slighted. Even when The NEWS visited the clean and cheerful facility, the head of the household, so to speak, made sure that there was both fresh coffee and breakfast food in the conference room, not only available for the hungry visitor to consume, but also for all employees to partake.
“It all comes down to people,” explained the president and CEO.
“By taking care of our customers and employees first, they take care of the company, creating a selfless circle of caring,” is how employee John Ebert put it. “And, the company rewards all involved.”
With all of the entertaining, hospitality, and warm rewards handed out by Greiner and general manager David Krueger in a year’s time, it’s a wonder the company gets anything done. It’s all about to start again for 2007, as Greiner is taking employees to Lake Tahoe for an overnight stay next month. Call it a party to kick off the New Year. Then next month she plans to send the entire company to an indoor go-cart arena in Sacramento for a half day of fun and team building.
“We do not do things routinely,” she said. “We do things as they occur.”
Krueger said, “When we have a crunch, afterwards we do something that says, ‘Wow! I can’t believe how hard you guys worked, and we really appreciate it.’ ”
“I do a lot for the people who work here,” confessed Greiner, being honest, not boastful. “And I do it spontaneously. I help them with their needs, whether they need a loan or whatever.”
Thinking of dispatcher Urzua, she added, “I might spontaneously say, ‘C’mon, Rachelle. Let’s go shopping.’ And I’ll go and buy a little wardrobe. You know, spend a half day and she gets everything that she wants ... I’ve bought refrigerators and stoves for employees.”
And every employee appreciates the caring and thoughtfulness.
“In 2002, my husband was in a horrible accident at work and went through numerous doctor visits, surgery, and not to mention, being out of work for almost two years,” relayed Urzua, who has been a part of the Greiner “family” for 11 years. “Patty not only gave me emotional support, but gave me gift cards to start my Christmas shopping early for my two daughters. She always puts something extra into my birthday.”
Without prompting and with a sincere face, she added, “I will always be forever thankful for all her support through the tragedies I’ve seen. She has taught me a lot and she makes me want to be a better person. I love her and cherish our friendship at work and outside of work.”
Quite an endorsement, huh?
RIGHT CHOICEThis is not to say that Greiner does not spread her loving wealth to company customers. If inside customers come first, then outside customers are a very, very close second. Actually, one could argue that it’s a tie overall.
“If they come to me with a customer that is particularly needy, and they want to help them and the customer does not have anything, we just do it,” said Greiner, a one-time registered nurse, who worked in recovery rooms and other areas in various nearby hospitals before starting the business with her husband in 1991.
“But, we don’t publicize it, because we don’t do it for publicity or back-patting. I really have a hard time with the press release idea,” meaning, she does not believe in telling the world when a good deed is done by Greiner Heating & Air Conditioning.
It all goes back to the business philosophy established nearly 16 years ago. “Even in the beginning, what [then-husband] John and I always said, ‘If we take really good care of the employees, and take really good care of the customers, we’re all going to do well,’ ” she said. “We’re all going to make money. We just stay the course. Tell the truth. Get permits on everything. Be ethical. Do the best you can.”
It may not come as a surprise that Greiner does not harp on financial matters. “I don’t pay any attention to the numbers,” she said bluntly. “And that is absolutely the way it is. And many people will tell you that is not being a very good entrepreneur or not having very good business sense. However, I have a great CPA. David [Krueger] looks at the numbers and the bookkeeper looks at the numbers. They tell me if we are in trouble. They give me a general idea of what’s going on. I absolutely do not pay attention to it.”
One cannot argue with the results, as the 100 percent residential business recorded $5.25 million in total sales last year.
“I think we can’t lose,” she said. “I think we absolutely cannot lose.”
Pointing out the values of the human approach, she added, “It gives you that staying power. We’re going to be around forever because we are the ones telling the truth, doing it right, and doing our best. I mean, who would you want in your home? I see these other guys. We’ve heard the stories. It’s really simple.”
And, again, it’s hard to argue when employees have nothing but praise for management and when an owner, among other benefits, allows employee flexibility and strongly believes in training. It’s hard to argue when a company grows financially each year. “Our company is a great place to work because we all have a great teamwork attitude,” summarized service technician Jason LeDoux, who said he felt the love as soon as he stepped into the heating and cooling offices two years ago.
“We communicate well. This is a family-oriented group, with gatherings for fun. We have laid-back owners who stand behind their employees. They always are willing to help out when needed. In short, this is a fun, working atmosphere.”
Set the record straight. The love goes both ways. “Yeah, I get frustrated at times,” admitted Greiner.
“And, I think I’m 54 and ask ‘What am I doing?’ There are other things I want to do. But when I come in here,” she says with a pause, then blurts out, “this place is just on fire with great people, and it just energizes me.”
To find out how the Greiner Heating & Air Conditioning president livens things up, see the Web-exclusive feature articles “Flexibility, Training Rank High on Approval List” and “Business Philosophy: Insert Fun, Hospitality at Any Time.”
JUST THE FACTS:Contractor: Greiner Heating & Air Conditioning Inc.
Owner: Patricia Greiner
Location: Dixon, Calif.
Years in business: 15
Bulk of market: 100 percent residential; no new construction
Total sales for 2006: $5.25 million
Total employees: 23
Total service technicians and installers: 14
Average hours employees spend in training: 10 hours per month
Benefits beyond medical/dental insurance: Vacations; perks; gas card for private vehicle; company provides expensive tools; tool payment plan; company provides half of the dependent medical monthly payments; 401(k) with matching, based on company profitability; techs earn “Greiner Bucks” to use for tool purchases; twice yearly get-together at company expense to reward employees for good work with gifts and bonuses; paid training; flexibility in scheduling; AFLAC 11; paid and laundered uniforms; company vehicle; Christmas party; above industry and area average compensation; and much, much more.
Industry association & contractor group members: ACCA, National Comfort Institute, and AirTime 500
The NEWS selected this contractor because: President and CEO Patricia Greiner, general manager David Krueger, and all employees in between work amazingly well with each other and everyone benefits, including (and maybe most of all?) the customers, who are treated with the same care and undivided attention.
Publication date: 01/29/2007