“Each customer of The Habegger Corporation is unique, and we strive to understand and address their personal needs.”
Those are the words of Mike Branson, director of marketing for Habegger. Headquartered in Cincinnati, and serving markets in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Iowa, Habegger is an HVAC wholesale distributor of Bryant, Carrier, Mitsubishi, Honeywell, and other products. Focusing on residential and commercial systems, including geothermal and HVAC parts and supplies, the distributor employs 260 personnel in 22 locations.
Branson recently took the time to address some of the issues facing the HVAC distribution industry and outlined positive strategies for economic stability and customer service excellence - two key elements for a successful distribution business.
STRONG AND STEADYWhen the housing boom went bust, the residential HVAC market suffered, and according to Branson, the economy has been the most challenging for the customers that focus on residential new construction business.
“Many, however, have taken the new construction decline as an opportunity to build or expand their add-on replacement and service businesses,” he said. “Those that worked to build and retain relationships with new construction homeowners during the housing boom have been most successful in the transition.”
With transition comes change, and Habegger has made changes differently than some other HVAC distributors. Due to the company’s robust service parts and replacement equipment business, and a commitment to the future by the Habegger family, the company has been able to invest in growth and increase its customer service.
“As an HVAC distributor, we have been fortunate that most homes and businesses are not willing to sacrifice comfort needs, even during a down economy,” noted Branson. “During this economic slowdown, while many others have had to decrease customer support, we haven’t.”
CUSTOMER CONCENTRATIONContinued customer support is more than just parts, pieces, and products. It takes a focused concentration to assist contractors with product needs, tight finances, and demanding end users. Habegger has ventured beyond products, delivery, and service support to offer technical education, business planning, and marketing assistance in an effort to ensure its customers’ success. The focus maintained by the company’s territory managers and customer service representatives centers on developing long-term relationships built on trust. It is these relationships with those on the frontlines that have enhanced Habegger’s continued business success.
“To me, the service technicians are the heroes in our industry - they are the frontline in understanding and addressing homeowner needs,” noted Branson. “They are the face of the companies.”
According to Habegger, exemplary service requires exemplary staff. Because of this, staff training and recruiting continue to be high priorities for this distributor.
“Our company is continuing to grow. Our president and CEO, John Dorr, has put an emphasis on both building the capabilities of our employees and recruiting the talent needed for our planned future growth,” said Branson. “We strive to have a broad-talent workforce, capable of serving all of our customers’ needs.”
Governing Habegger’s workforce are localized senior management members for each of the regions the company serves.
“We recognize that market requirements and opportunities can vary,” said Branson. “As an industry, distributors need to continually evaluate, adjust, and communicate the value they provide to their customers and suppliers.”
FUTURE THOUGHTSThis 57-year-old company did not achieve its current standings without keeping an eye on the future along the way. Looking past the 2009 economic climate and into 2010 and beyond, Habegger is watching for customer behavior trends to surface. Branson predicted that higher-level business engagement is on the horizon for contractors.
“I see more contractors becoming better business owners with a greater emphasis on business planning, budgeting, cost tracking, and proper pricing,” he said. “As for technicians, I think they will become more engaged in their continuing education and certification, demonstrating a genuine commitment to their customers.”