Hank Williams’ song “Family Tradition” won a top 10 spot on the country charts in 1979, immediately popular for its unsavory self-portraiture. That year, Terry Simioni was 26 and groovin’ on the new country tune. After all, who can ignore Hank’s bawdry song and its irresistible romp?
Today, 35 years after the big hit for Hank Williams, Simioni — now president of Simioni’s Warm Floors in Spokane, Washington — has crafted his own set of family traditions, though a lot more wholesome in nature.
“Everyone in the family’s involved in the business,” said Simioni. “It’s a real blessing to be able to see and work with them every day.”
Terry and wife, Maureen, started Simioni’s Warm Floors in 2004 after he had been in the industry for nearly 30 years working for a plumbing and heating wholesaler. Their sons Mackenzie, Austin, and Riley were following in their dad’s footsteps and already showing serious interest in HVAC and mechanical work during their high school years. Timing and circumstance were good; the Simioni’s wanted to provide their sons with a future, a family business.
“Wherever the work takes us, we go together,” said Simioni. “In states as large as Washington and Idaho [where the company performs lots of work], traveling up to five hours for a large job isn’t unusual.”
During the recession (beginning in 2007, and with tendrils that still extend into the current day), Simioni said the company had to follow its money very closely, especially during the early years of the economic downturn when only wealthy homeowners were asking the Simionis to install radiant heat systems.
“Owners of average, or even somewhat above-average homes, weren’t asking for higher-end, more comfortable, or energy-efficient heating and cooling systems during the recession,” explained Simioni.
“Now that the building market is getting back on its feet, more homeowners are having nicer systems installed. We’re finding that people are leaning toward smaller homes with better systems,” he explained. “The market is improving, so whether it’s for larger homes or more modest houses, the Simionis are an ideal choice for the job if homeowners are looking for a top-drawer HVAC or hydronic installer,” said Rob Richard, co-owner of Spokane, Washington-based manufacturer’s rep firm, Suntoya Corp. “We’re delighted that they’re good customers of ours and we truly enjoy seeing their work.”
The Simionis specialize in hydronic work, typically with some radiant heating or snowmelt factors involved. Generally, their work is 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial.
A recent job that the Simioni’s completed was the residence of two physicians in Spokane. The husband-and-wife doctor duo decided they wanted the mechanical systems serving their contemporary 6,400-square-foot home to be green. The list of essential equipment included a 5-ton geothermal water-to-water system as the source for radiant warmth, a Lifebreath fresh-air and heat recovery system, and an extensive, nine-zone radiant heat system. It proved to be an ideal job for the Simionis.
When the Simionis began their work on the new home, one-third of the basement was already poured in concrete with plans for a hydronic baseboard-heated basement. However, the homeowners opted for the more efficient and comfort-centric route after conferring with their new installers, Simioni and sons.
That’s when Terry and Mackenzie installed the baseboards in parts of the basement already poured. They then turned their attention to equipping the remainder of the structure with radiant heat.
The Simionis installed 1,000 linear feet of ½-inch PEX tubing (with 30 percent glycol) for the remainder of the daylight basement area.
Upstairs, they installed 3,200 linear feet of radiant tubing in gypcrete and another 1,500 feet in the garage slab. Once they finished installing the in-floor radiant, they installed a residential heat recovery ventilator (HRV) Lifebreath fresh-air system with HEPA filtration and all a/c ducts.
As the work commenced inside the home, five 200-foot geoexchange boreholes were drilled by Colville, Washington-based Fogle Pumps. The house was being built on solid rock, so no casing was needed. After the drilling was complete, the tubing was installed with U-bends for a closed system, complete with bentonite grout.
Taco pumps move fluids for geoexchange using an ethanol-water solution. The Taco 2400-40 pumps on the load side move Btu to two Bradford White 60-gallon storage tanks — one for heating and one for cooling.
Circulation for all of the home’s hydronic heating zones is controlled by Taco zone controls and Zone Sentry zone valves.
Taco 0015 pumps are used for the high-velocity air handlers. Taco 0013 pumps were chosen for the domestic hot water, manifolds, baseboard heaters, and the hot water indirect. “We use Taco for all of our jobs,” said Terry Simioni.
During the summer months, the geo system sends chilled fluids to the storage tank, which is then circulated through an air handler in the ductwork to cool and dehumidify the home.
The 5-ton geothermal system is also connected to a high velocity a/c unit for greater versatility. “With a water-to-water system, you can make it go anywhere and do anything,” quipped Terry Simioni. “We wish that more people would do geothermal — and not because of the rebates, but because it’s much better for the environment. The Btu are just waiting in the ground to be harvested.”
Even among the higher-end homes they’re so familiar with, the doctor’s home was a bit unusual for the Simionis. With its geothermal water-to-water system for heating and cooling, and with a gas boiler as the backup heat source for radiant, and also for domestic water heating, Terry Simioni said, “it was a nice project with a unique twist or two.”
Keeping it Fresh
As it is on the job site, so, too, are the advantages of new ideas as an entrepreneurial family. With five Simionis in the business, there’s no shortage of new, different ideas.
“Working with family is occasionally easier said than done,” Terry Simioni explained. “You’re bound to have differences of opinions, but the key is to give everyone’s perspective a fair appraisal. My sons are creative — they’re always coming up with new and better ways to do things. I’ve been seeing a lot more of this lately, and they’re just getting started.”
When his oldest son Mackenzie was 18, he was helping his dad staple up radiant tubing in floor joists. Terry Simioni was using ladders and painstakingly climbing up and down and moving the ladder every few feet. Without saying a word, Mackenzie went to Home Depot and bought a scaffolding unit on wheels and just pulled himself along the floor joists. They had the radiant stapled in half the time required when constantly moving ladders.
Not only do the Simioni sons keep their family business fresh, but the family’s insistence on keeping up to date with technology also keeps them on the cutting edge of the HVAC and mechanical market.
“When it comes to our industry, we try to have the best of everything and stay on top of the latest technology,” said Terry Simioni. “It’s all about energy efficiency, comfort, and system reliability, and, with the newest products and installation techniques, we do our best to stay ahead of the competition.”
Education is another way Simioni’s Warm Floors stays ahead. Terry Simioni explained staff members regularly attend continuing education courses for HVAC, electrical, and geothermal disciplines, and online studies, such as Taco’s FloPro University, or Bradford White’s GoToMeeting sessions.
Now, Terry Simioni and his boys Mackenzie, 24, Austin, 20, and Riley, 16, have all become accustomed to the way work needs to get done well as a family. Terry Simioni still sees himself in the role of captain, though he knows and appreciates seeing that his sons are all gaining speed professionally in many ways.
Maureen, with legal secretary schooling in her background, takes care of the company’s bookwork and scheduling. When asked how the family all fits together to make the company’s gears grind, Terry Simioni paused a beat and said, “It just works. We all complement each other.”
“Our boys know what work looks like,” said Terry Simioni, proudly. “They work hard and appreciate everything that comes from it. Sadly, that seems to be a rarity with most kids these days.”
Even at a young age, the Simioni boys were instilled with a hard-work-pays-off mentality. Home schooling had one accessory need: to meet the kids’ interests in physical education. Their choice: karate. For solidarity, Terry took the classes with them to show them the family affair can include work, play, and other healthy pursuits. Today, they’re all Kenpo karate black belts.
The Meaning of Life
Even though they’re together all week long, the Simionis love to spend as much time together outside of work as possible. In February, they held a big party to watch their favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, defeat the Denver Broncos in the 2014 Super Bowl.
On winter weekends, they go skiing and target shooting together, and in the summer, they head to a lake for boating, wakeboarding, and water skiing.
Sounds idyllic and tranquil, right? Four years ago, Terry Simioni was diagnosed with throat cancer. He went through months of chemo and radiation treatment — all while still running the family business.
He wouldn’t have been able to do the work without the help of his sons and wife. Today, he’s is in his fourth year of remission.
“My family was — and is — my only motivation,” he said, speaking about the rigors of cancer. “We’re a very tight-knit family. Overcoming cancer really showed me what was important. What I’ve learned through this struggle reinforces for me, every day, what life is really
Rachel Vastyan is a writer and account manager for Common Ground, a Manhein, Pennsylvania-based trade communications firm that specializes in the hydronics, radiant heat, plumbing and mechanical, geothermal, and HVAC industries. Contact her at 717-664-0535.
Publication date: 6/16/2014