What is in a name? In particular, what is in an HVACR contractor’s name? It is common to see a lot of businesses with the word “air” in the name, and there are many with “heating & cooling,” too. It is also common to name a business that will alphabetically appear near the beginning of a telephone book business listing, such as “AA” or “AAA.” Using a surname, such as Smith’s HVAC, is probably just as common.

But are there other reasons behind business names?The NEWSwanted to know so we asked some of our contractor consultants to weigh in on the subject. Larry Taylor, AirRite Air Conditioning Co., believes his company name originated from the “AA” philosophy.

“I purchased AirRite in 1990, and it was named in 1955, so I’m not sure what criteria was used, if any,” he said. “My guess is that it started with an A and that was enough back then. But today you have to be AAA or something crazy like that because of the Yellow Pages games played.”

Jim Hussey, Marina Mechanical, said his company name was originally derived from the community it was located in and has evolved into a different name now. “In 1958, the company was called W/C Sheet Metal & Furnace Co. because it was a branch office of Walnut Creek Sheet Metal (Walnut Creek being the town where the parent company was located),” said Hussey.

“In the 1960s, W/C Sheet Metal was relocated through eminent domain to Marina Boulevard. At that time, to distinguish itself from its former parent, the company name was changed to Marina Heating and Air Conditioning. Heating and Air Conditioning better defined the services provided, the company was located on Marina Blvd., and I like to think the term Marina evoked thoughts of comforting and relaxing cool breezes.

“In 1990, I purchased the company and changed the name to Marina Mechanical. I wanted to keep the name Marina because of its longevity, but preferred the term Mechanical as it differentiated us from residential and identified us more as commercial contractors.”


Some of the consultants said they wanted to name their business to specifically include what types of services they offered or what they could do for their customers. Sonny Knobloch, Help! Air Conditioning & Heating, said his company name says it all.

Knobloch said, “My father used to always say, ‘Never put your name on something you might be ashamed of later.’ It was not about business but a general statement.

“When I started thinking about starting my own company, I played around with many names and how it would sound. Then I said to myself that it is not about me, it is all about the customer.

“What does the customer want? How does the customer feel when he needs cooling or heating? What is a name or word that is easy to remember? They need help. So the name became Help!! Service Co.”

Hank Bloom, Environmental Conditioning Systems, said his logic was very simple for choosing that name. “We wanted to be looked at as more than just an HVAC contractor so we picked Environmental Conditioning Systems which I really think fits today’s needs - nothing more glamorous.”

Ken Bodwell, Innovative Service Solutions, said that people don’t necessarily want to conduct business as usual with companies whose business names reflect that same philosophy. “Our thought was that in today’s changing world and world of computerization, the average business person does not want the same old,” he said. “They want fresh ideas. They are not looking for excuses, but are looking for solutions. Our only business is mechanical service. Thus, Innovative Service Solutions.”

Brian Leech, Service Legends, decided that a change was needed from his original name, A. Leechman Heating & Cooling, because he wanted to establish a brand and a specific image. “We wanted a name that said who we are so that when branding the name, it had a message to go along with it,” he said.

Ann Kahn, Kahn Mechanical, said her company name was recommended by a public relations firm that her family hired. “They designed our logo and recommended we use our family name,” she said. “We were thinking they would be a little more creative, but their reasoning was that if you stand behind your work, you should be proud to give your company your own name.”

Arthur Pickett, Royal Air Systems Inc., said his logic was simple: choose a name that was easy to pronounce. “When I started the business, I wanted a name that was easily understood over the phone,” he said. “When the girls answer the phone, they can easily say ‘good morning royal.’ ”

He got the name idea from a customer he had back in the 1970s: Royal Engineering.


Some business owners have not set their company names in stone. As times change and ownership changes, there is a need to change the names, too. Scott Getzschman, Getzschman Heating LLC, went through an ownership change but believed that the family name remains a very important business asset.

“Our name has been around for 48 years and was chosen by our parents,” he said. “It carries a very strong brand in the Fremont, Blair, and Omaha markets. We have shortened it from Getzschman Heating and Sheet Metal Contractors to Getzschman Heating LLC when we purchased it back from Lennox.

“When we became a Service Experts company and they wanted us to emphasize the new company, it was never more apparent how long it takes and the large amount of money it takes to brand a company.”

Roger Grochmal’s company broke away from a group of independent contractors, ClimateCare, last year and decided it was time to establish a new identity. “We have a market with a number of large corporate brands with very high consumer awareness,” he said.

“It was very important to me that we establish a clear position for ourselves in this environment. I was not entirely sure that the old Atlas Air Conditioning name was still relevant today. We hired a brand coach and proceeded to perform a very detailed analysis and stakeholder survey under what the consultant called a ThinkAudit.

“The results were worth all the work and based on what we identified as our position in the market, namely, ‘Pursuing perfect health for your home,’ we decided to change our name. Our coach advised us that evolution was a preferred strategy to revolution. As a result, we took the long time Atlas root and married it with the Care from ClimateCare to produce AtlasCare.

“We care about our customers’ comfort. We care about their health with IAQ. We care about the health of their essential mechanical systems.”

Hussey noted that a name change is in his company’s future. “Today everyone is a ‘mechanical’ contractor even though few, if any, can actually provide true mechanical wet-side services,” he said. “So again to differentiate us from the crowd, we are thinking about a name change. It will definitely be Marina something, but that has yet to be nailed down. It will probably be something that speaks to green or energy efficiency, or retro- commissioning, something to do with the environment.

“So we keep and use Marina primarily because after 50 years there is brand recognition. We continue to look to other components of our name to both identify the service we provide and differentiate us from the crowd.”

Publication date:01/19/2009