It’s often said it’s hard to get to the top, and it’s even harder to stay there. Air Quality Dunrite, a Concord, Ontario, Canada-based residential service and replacement company, was recognized in 2012 by The NEWS as Canada’s Best Contractor To Work For based on a number of factors including a strong turnaround in its financial performance. The company takes home the honor again in 2014, this time based on its consistently outstanding treatment of customers and associates.

Darrel Yashinsky, Air Quality Dunrite’s owner and president, just might have a secret role model when it comes to building a consistently high-performing company. Despite growing up in Toronto, Yashinsky (much to the dismay of his father) is a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, who boast 24 Stanley Cup titles. But, if Air Quality Dunrite is on its way to becoming a Canadiens-style dynasty, don’t expect it to come with a lot of chest-pounding from the low-key Yashinsky. Like many of the best coaches, he passes credit for the company’s achievements to his players.

“It’s all about my people,” Yashinsky said. “I realized many years ago that the business isn’t me; it’s the people who work in it every day. I very much want to empower them to run the business and continuously support them while not getting in their way.

“I’m not on the front line any longer,” he added. “As a result, if I don’t work through my people, I’ve lost. And if I don’t have them on my side, I’ve lost even more.”

Shiny, Happy People

Yashinsky’s determination to put his people first pays off with a tremendous amount of loyalty.

Veronica Hynes, office manager and health and safety coordinator, has been with the company for six years. She said Yashinsky has made it clear to her that she has to stay with him until she retires — and that is fine with her.

“I’ve gone full-circle with this company,” Hynes said. “Since Darrel purchased us three years ago I’ve definitely been enjoying the good times. He’s a wonderful man to work for. He’s very honest and true to his word, and he values both the customers and his staff.”

Hynes added that Yashinsky also always makes sure his technicians are equipped with the latest products, technology, and training to serve customers’ needs, which definitely makes life easier for Adam Tovey, service technician/home comfort advisor, and Adam Saunders, sales manager.

“This company is very big on education and training, both technical and customer service-related,” Tovey said. “That’s important be-
cause things are always changing in our industry.”

Tovey, who has been with the company for five years, added that he very much appreciates Yashinsky’s quiet leadership.

“Darrel is very approachable and easy to talk to, and he’s always there to lend an ear, should I ever need to discuss anything with him,” Tovey said. “He also makes sure we have opportunities to succeed. If we show him a good work ethic and demonstrate that we want success for our families and in our lives, the opportunity is always there at Air Quality Dunrite — you just have to grasp it.”

Saunders has been with the company for three years, arriving on the recommendation of many including his father, who works for a major HVAC equipment manufacturer.

“My dad is a friend of Darrel’s, and he told me if I was going to work for anyone in the industry, Darrel is who he would recommend,” Saunders said. “Darrel’s a great boss and, because there aren’t layers of management at this company, I’ve been able to learn a lot directly from him and have built a great relationship with him.”

Having worked at a larger company, Saunders enjoys the fact that Air Quality Dunrite is big enough to take good care of its customers while being small enough to create a true team environment.

“At a bigger company, you’re just a number on a page,” Saunders said. “You can call into the service department five times and get a different technician every time. You don’t really have a personalized experience or relationship with any of them. Here, you get to know the whole team and build friendships with them and learn from them. Everyone ends up really pulling for each other.”

Saunders added that it’s easy to sell that kind of company to customers. “With larger companies, in any industry, service tends to be impersonal. Customers sense that, and it’s not a positive. Our customers know when they call us, they’re calling right into our office. They know we’ll take care of them, and they respond positively to that.”

Bearing witness to that is Gloria Clamen, a Toronto resident who owns two properties, including an income property with three tenants. She has high praise for the Air Quality Dunrite team.

“I absolutely love those guys and really appreciate the service that they give us,” she told The NEWS. “They’re very honest, and we feel like we can trust them, which is very important to us. Whenever we need them, they always come through for us very quickly and with flying colors. We’re very happy.”

Gaining by Helping Others

As detailed in the previous article in The NEWS, Yashinsky took a somewhat torturous route to being owner and president of Air Quality Dunrite. And, when he arrived at that destination, he took over a company that was not in the best financial shape. Now, however, the company is on solid financial footing with a projected 2015 sales volume of $3.2 million, which is an increase of 8 percent over 2014. More importantly, the company’s bottom line is strong enough to allow Yashinsky to share the benefits of success with his people.

This people-first strategy is one Yashinsky has shared with numerous contractors through Success Group International — Canada. Since becoming president of the organization in 1999, Yashinsky estimates he has helped nearly 400 contractors in the HVACR, plumbing, and electrical trades run better businesses. The group currently has about 80 members.

“We mentor contractors on their business practices,” Yashinsky explained. “Any help that one can seek out to help them move their business forward is to be applauded and encouraged. In our case, the training and advice that we at Success Group International provide is specific to contractors. It’s about building positive relationships with your clients so they want to use you today and tomorrow.”

Yashinsky said many contractors can benefit— as he did — from learning some simple, basic principles to allow their businesses to breathe and grow, as well as some principles for their staff to follow that will reduce the burden and worry of owning a business.

“As an owner, you can’t pull every lever and turn every dial. You have to trust and empower your people to work in the business without you. Recognizing that is the only thing that allows me to sleep at night,” Yashinsky said.

With two Best Contractor To Work For awards on the trophy shelf, Yashinsky needs only 22 more to match the record of his boyhood hockey idols. If anybody can do it, it would appear that he and the team at Air Quality Dunrite can.

SIDEBAR: Air Quality Dunrite

Contractor: Air Quality Dunrite

Owner & President: Darrel Yashinsky

Location: Concord, Ontario, Canada

Years in Business: 25

Bulk of Market: Residential service and replacement

Total Sales for 2014: $2.85 million

Total Employees: 17

Total Service Technicians + Installers: 12

Average Hours Employees Spend in Training: 31-40

Benefits Beyond Medical/Dental Insurance: Performance spiffs, monthly contests, regular training, and company outings.

Industry Association + Contractor Group Members: Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI); Vaughan Chamber of Commerce; RSES; ASHRAE; and Success Group International of Canada.

The NEWS Selected this Contractor Because: After being named a Best Contractor To Work For in 2013, the company only got better with additional company-paid training to ensure its technicians meet new Canadian government certification requirements. Darrel Yashinsky also helps other HVACR companies grow and prosper through Success Group International Canada.

SIDEBAR: New Programs Build on Success

Darrel Yashinsky, owner and president of Air Quality Dunrite, the 2014 Canadian winner of The NEWS’ Best Contractor To Work For contest, is not the type to sit on his laurels. Since the company won the award in 2012, Yashinsky has implemented two programs to keep the company moving forward.

The first was arranging training and certification for his technicians so they meet the new standards recently set by the Ontario College of Trades. Air Quality Dunrite has eight service and four installation technicians. A year ago, only two of them were certified; today there are eight.

“The technicians know once they’re certified, I have to pay them more,” Yashinsky said. “But, certification is important to our company and to the technicians’ careers, and helping them earn those certifications has created a very loyal team.”

The second new program since 2013 is expanding the use of interns. Many recent college graduates are having trouble finding work, and many might be a great fit for companies in the HVAC industry, Yashinsky noted. If an individual is willing to accept an internship and essentially work for free for a short period of time, it speaks volumes about his or her attitude.

“I can teach people the technical side of the business, but I can’t teach them attitude,” Yashinsky said. “The internship program gives me access to people with great attitudes that we can bring into the business. The best employees are the ones you groom yourself, and we’ve found that someone who comes on under an internship is the kind of person you want.”

Publication date: 1/26/2015

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