Greg Crumpton, co-owner of AirTight Mechanical, Charlotte, N.C.
HOW LONG IN BUSINESS
“We’re celebrating 10 years this year. We started business in the summer of 1999.”
BIGGEST CHANGE TO THE BUSINESS
“The biggest change I’ve seen is our customers’ willingness and desire to embrace our wireless technology and the technology base we bring to the HVAC service business” (laptops, ability for customers to access data for PMs, projects - “the whole data-management piece.”)
“We do strictly commercial-industrial and critical site stuff.”
ASSOCIATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS
• AFCOM (Association For Computer Operations Management)
• ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers)
• IFMA (International Facility Management Association)
• The Unified Group
• U.S. Green Building Council - Charlotte.
HOW DO THESE AFFILIATIONS HELP YOU
“From a best practices and trend perspective, it allows us to validate what we think as far as what’s out there and what’s happening. When you can sit down with your peers in a noncompetitive setting, the information exchange is phenomenal (benchmarking). The fortunate spinoffs are referrals and references. If you do all those other things properly, you get additional work for the right kind of people.”
BIGGEST CURRENT HURDLE TO OVERCOME
“In general, the biggest hurdle is carrying our culture forward as a unique HVAC company. We don’t advertise, don’t participate in Yellow Pages, and we select who we go after. We educate internally how we’re different; we’re 180 degrees different from the industry. It works well for us, especially when we bring a younger guy up through our system; we supply education from day-one tech school up through advanced technical training. For a guy with some experience, getting them out of the ‘contractor mentality’ is difficult. Understanding the culture permeates the organization. We develop processes along the way to educate them. People want to put you in a pigeonhole. We provide full family insurance at no cost to the employee. Our goal is to not have turnover; our goal is to provide people a great place to work. People who don’t fit in weed themselves out quickly. It’s a peer-policing organization.”
• 26 people; 17 technicians who double as installers.
• Fleet of 21 vehicles.
• Two full-time salespeople (one sells all PM contracts, the other sells all projects).
• Two field-support people.
• One project coordinator.
“Being lean has its downside,” said Crumpton. “We have more than enough work to do and added pressure.” The company recently added a production coordinator handling dispatch and invoice; “anything to do with the technician and the task. It’s not a 1980s-type service company.”
FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE INDUSTRY
“I love educating both our clients and our staff. I’m super-wacko for new and improved things, and I push our company to be savvy. Most a/c contractors can’t talk about cloud computing at a data center. We’re most successful working in that critical-client arena. We’re comfortable there. We excel in that environment; we really work towards using more generic customers as training grounds for our younger guys. You don’t ever want to go on a first date to a drive-in movie; you might go to the church dinner. It’s a safe environment.”
SUMMING IT UP
“A good portion of what we do is to go to work on relationships, and get that feedback - yes you’ve got to submit a price, but we don’t necessarily have to pick the lowest price. If you have that relationship where they see the value - stuff that they live and die by - it’s key, not just now, but especially now.”