When hiring next-generation prospects from trade schools or even high schools, a good contractor knows these future service techs may still need a lot of hands-on training before they’re ready to start answering service calls.
For Snyder Air Conditioning of Jacksonville, Florida, the process involves schooling future techs on the company’s preventive maintenance department, direct on-the-job mentoring from a field supervisor, live troubleshooting scenarios, and more. Once that’s been accomplished, prospects are promoted into the service technician sector, where real-time mentoring and training continues for the rest of their careers.
Combine that meticulous training pattern with a strenuous year-round service schedule that’s necessary to keep up with the Florida heat, and countless employee incentives, and you have the pieces in place for Snyder Air Conditioning to be named The NEWS’ Best Contractor to Work For in the South.
Down to Business
The company was founded by Robert (everybody calls him ‘Bob’) Snyder in 1973. Its current owner, Ed Miller, was one of those guys just out of high school who joined the company in 1989. In fact, he recalls playing on the Snyder company softball team before coming on board. “I was the catcher, and Bob was the pitcher,” Miller recalled. “Bob invited me to come into the business as a helper.”
On his first day, Miller was plugged into the preventive maintenance department, following a process still in place today.
Service technician Dan Brown had worked at several companies by 1992, when an industry associate suggested he interview for a job at Snyder. “Everybody was really nice and family oriented,” he said. “I liked Bob Snyder and his demeanor. He had time for me, so I decided to make time for him.”
That continues today, he said. “The Snyder crew is full of very good people. Management looks after you and has done so for years.”
But all those relational aspects do not allow a company to remain in business for 41 years and grow to 90 employees with 16 service technicians and 22 installers. As an authorized Daikin dealer, Snyder has kept its installers and techs up to date on the latest technologies including those related to heat pumps.
Training is offered every Wednesday night for two hours with meals provided.
“Anytime an employee is told he or she needs to attend training, attendance is required and the employee is paid his or her regular hourly wage,” said John Rand, installation manager. “Online technical courses and vendor-sponsored after-hours programs are also available on a voluntary basis.”
Rand further explained how steady employment is maintained. “Service technicians are offered preventive maintenance calls when repair work is slow, which helps fill time. In the installation department we pick up residential or commercial new construction projects during the slow periods.”
Beyond 401(k), medical, and dental benefits, employees are granted a performance structure based on such aspects as lead generation, reduced callback percentages, and customer reviews. Spurring longevity and long-term commitment, those who have been with the company for five years are gifted a company cruise for them and their spouses.
The company’s charitable in-
volvement also shows a commitment to the community and its employees. For example, Snyder has donated materials and labor for North Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association’s Air Angels project for a 9-year-old cancer patient’s family. And donations for the National Down Syndrome Society were raised within the office by employees and the company to help an installer’s child who has Down syndrome.
“Mr. Miller gives of his free time to help other local contractors. He is also a past president and current board member of the North Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association, and is a board member of ACCA-Florida,” said Rand.
Upon returning as a presenter at a recent Honeywell contractor forum on Wi-Fi thermostats, Miller was quick to not only share the information with his staff, but with local contractors, as well, which Rand points out is a testament to his desire to keep everyone up to date with the industry’s ever-changing culture.
Staying the Course
“I’ve been with this company for more than 18 years and have seen many HVAC companies come and go throughout my career,” said Rand. “This company is an industry leader in Jacksonville and stays on the forefront of training to have the best technicians possible.”
Miller himself noted an additional aspect of Snyder Air Conditioning designed to benefit both the technicians and customers. “Our technicians live all over the area, and they are allowed to keep the company vehicles at their homes and are dispatched from there. That means they don’t have to come into the office all the time, and that means faster response times for our customers.”
Ongoing training, a variety of incentives, and extraordinary incentives are all tools that help build a successful contracting business. And, employees attest, Miller’s guidance, leadership, and craftsmanship help make Snyder Air Conditioning one of America’s Best Contractors to Work For.
SIDEBAR: Contractor: Snyder Air Conditioning
Owner: Ed Miller
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Years in Business: 41
Bulk of Market: Residential
Total Sales for 2013: $11.4 million
Total Employees: 90
Total Service Technicians + Installers: 16 service technicians and 21 maintenance technicians
Average Hours Employees Spend in Training: 41 or more
Benefits Beyond Medical/Dental Insurance: 401(k), incentives, Snyder company cruise, Christmas bonus, quarterly company cookouts, annual fishing trip, and paid holidays and vacations
Industry Association + Contractor Group Members: North Florida Air Conditioning Contractors, ACCA-Florida, Air Angels Foundation Treasurer, Air Time 500 Member, Honeywell Contractor Pro, Daikin Comfort Pro, Amana A-plus Dealer, National Comfort Institute
The NEWS Selected this Contractor Because: The company provides training and mentoring through installer and service technician sectors, year-round work, and other incentives
Publication date: 1/26/2015