A feverish rise in social and electronic media usage made keeping up with 2011 trends difficult. Without confidence in return on investments, many of the HVACR industry dabbled in the social and electronic realm; but most did not embrace the concept of speaking to the masses. Greg Crumpton did; and that’s what makes him a 2011 NEWSmaker.

Crumpton is the president and founder of AirTight Mechanical; a commercial contracting firm headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. His speaking to the masses began previous to 2011 as he endeavored to educate his staff, his customers, and his industry early in his career. Crumpton, who began his full-time HVAC career in 1982, now spends his days concentrating on developing people, retaining customers, and establishing strategic alliances.

He does these things guided by the philosophy that, “If we focus on education, everything else will fall into place.” The educational philosophy that Crumpton subscribes to is not bound by textbooks and apprenticeships. It extends to real life experiences and a realistic approach to staff and consumers.

“You can’t train someone to do your job or coach them through it if they haven’t been stuck at the airport after the AHR Expo and had to sleep on the floor overnight. That kind of stuff you have to go through,” he noted. “As for customers, if you are going to sell to somebody, you have to find out what’s beneficial to them, not just talk about a product’s features. Just because you throw a Ramada Inn and a restaurant sign on the highway, doesn’t mean that everybody who drives by is sleepy or hungry.”

One of Crumpton’s main goals with his customers is to become an advisor to them. To do this, he employs social and electronic media elements within the company. Armed with multiple LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, AirTight is promoting its individual employees as professionals and itself as a resource and a place to find solutions.

“We’re trying to not only sprinkle our people in — their faces, their names — but we are also branding the corporate name, all via the same message across networks,” said Crumpton. “This puts me in the position to be the expert advisor. It makes people from the industry know our company and it makes our customers feel confident.”

As for the future of social media in the HVAC industry, Crumpton advises those less interested in social and electronic media to recognize the value of these latest tools.

“Be open and receptive to technology. Invest in it. If you keep waiting on the next generation of iPad before you buy one, you are going to miss the boat,” he explained. “Every day the world is getting smarter, and if you’re still operating off a fax machine, you are going to get smoked. You are going to die out a slow, withering death.”

Social and electronic media, along with Crumpton’s commitment to education excellence, is bringing light to new ideas and new energy for his company and his customers. As for the industry, he has some video ideas that may change the service and maintenance game altogether. Crumpton continues to push the envelope and adjust to the changing times and technology.

“We have to get people onboard and we have to change our mindset,” he said. “I think our employees and our customers like the idea that we are out there swinging the machete instead of walking the beaten path.”

SIDEBAR: 2011 NEWSmaker

Name: Greg Crumpton

Title: President & Founder

Company: AirTight Mechanical

Location: Charlotte, N.C.

Notable quote: “I think our employees and our customers like the idea that we are out there swinging the machete instead of walking the beaten path.”

Publication date: 12/19/2011