John Boyce, co-owner of Airco Services Inc. and 2003 “Best Contractor to Work For” winner, sits in his office crowded in by the many collectible truck models from Lennox, one of his main equipment lines.

TULSA, Okla. - Over four years ago, John Boyce got the good news that he had been chosen as a winner inThe NEWS’“Best Contractors to Work For” contest. The co-owner of Airco Services Inc. of Tulsa was nominated by his employees for maintaining a “family atmosphere” and a “relaxed environment” among many other reasons.

At the time of the award, Airco had 54 employees with a yearly revenue of $6 million. Today, those numbers have changed substantially, but the strong bonds between employees and ownership remains very strong. There are now 85 employees and revenue is $11 million.

While it may seem like a daunting task to keep all systems in place and operating smoothly during such rapid growth, it is business as usual for Boyce. He said it all begins with his service techs.

“I tell the guys that they are in charge of their own destiny,” he said. “If they take care of our customers, the customers will keep wanting us back and will refer us to other people - thus ensuring future work and enabling techs to keep their jobs.”

That may seem like a simple philosophy, but it works. However, it takes good, qualified workers to keep customers happy, and Boyce knows that will continue to be a challenge for the Tulsa HVAC community.

“Eighty-five percent of the people walking in our door to apply for a field job either can’t pass a drug test or criminal background check,” he said.

“Add to that the tough licensing in Oklahoma, which takes about 80 percent of the people out of the job pool. The pass rate for the state licensing test is about 26 percent.”

Boyce is proud of the fact that all of his service techs are NATE-certified and that most of his installers are NATE-certified, too. He credits a very strong vocational school - Oklahoma State University/Okmulgee - in the community for preparing students for a career in HVAC.

It didn’t hurt that he won the Best Contractor award, either. “We got a lot of positive feedback from the award,” Boyce said. “The local newspaper picked up on the story, too.”

The break room is always a buzz of activity every morning at Airco Services Inc. as service techs exchange ideas and go over the latest news affecting their daily routines.


It also didn’t hurt that Boyce ramped up some services besides HVAC. He has put a greater emphasis on his electrical and plumbing divisions and this has helped his overall marketing strategy.

“We want to be a one-stop shop for our customers,” he said. “All of our services compliment each other. By adding new markets, we continue to build our business.”

That philosophy seems to have fallen on deaf ears for some other businesspeople, according to Boyce. And standing still can mean business fatality.

“If all you want to do is keep your customer base happy and reinforce it, you will be going out of business,” he said. “You will eventually lose customers through attrition and poor experiences.

“We are constantly massaging our business and looking for better ideas.”

Boyce noted that he has been adding 4-6 trucks a year to his fleet, but not necessarily because he is following a normal replacement schedule.

He simply keeps adding crews. At the rate he is growing, he will soon be out of room to park the vehicles next to his facility. He is currently looking for a new building and might possibly build one.

“We are finding that 25,000 square feet is just not enough,” Boyce said.

Airco’s marketing program has been beefed up during this expansive growth, too. But Boyce concedes that he has been a little lucky.

“The day after our most recent tune-up special expired the temperatures dipped into the teens,” he laughed.

It may take a little luck to succeed while others struggle, but Boyce said he will continue to follow an aggressive growth plan - and he may even take time to try and be a repeat winner in the Best Contractor contest.

“We may gear up and enter the contest again,” he said. “We’ve got guys who were here from the first time we won, and they continue to do a great job.”

Publication date:01/21/2008