Brothers Raymond and Joseph Kishk grew up in the service industry. Learning from their father, who was a fire prevention and lighting services provider, the two knew they would continue their family’s 30-year service tradition, so they started their own heating and cooling company nine years ago and haven’t looked back.
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating is a commercial HVAC contracting company servicing the New York City metro area, including Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. The majority of the company’s clients are retail stores and office buildings, but it does high-end residential work, as well.
“Our father always pushed us to be in the service business because people will always need services, especially HVAC services,” Joseph Kishk said.
Since its beginning, Interstate Air Conditioning has grown to 50 employees and 26 vehicles, and it brought in more than $10 million in revenue last year.
“I love being in business with my brother. He runs the installation department, I run the service department, and it works,” said Raymond Kishk. “We don’t disagree very often, and, if we do, it’s nothing a 10-minute conversation can’t fix.”
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating is a member of ACCA and the Young Entrepreneur Council and is a committee member for the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM). The affiliations help the Kishk brothers associate with like-minded individuals in the same industry.
Over time, the company’s experienced very little employee turnover. While staffing has remained consistent over the years, it’s becoming more difficult to find qualified employees who are knowledgeable, said Raymond Kishk. “Most technicians in our industry are part changers and not real troubleshooters.”
To combat this, Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating constantly runs employment ads. “We always end up hiring the best guys when we aren’t even in hiring mode,” Raymond Kishk said. “The only way to find qualified staff is to keep ads running 24/7.”
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating also works to keep its employees satisfied by offering competitive salaries and benefits and by recognizing employees for their hard work and accomplishments.
“The whole environment here is just awesome,” said Michael Kay, service manager, Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating. “Working with Joey and Raymond is fantastic — they’re with you every step of the way, whenever you need anything. They have open-door policies. And, anyone in the office is always there to help with whatever you may need. It’s just a great environment to work in. In the past four years I’ve been here, the growth has been insane. I’ve enjoyed watching it [the company] grow and being a part of that. I can’t wait to see where it will be in the next five years.”
With all the new technology available today, the HVAC industry is advancing faster than ever before. It’s one of the things Raymond Kishk said he likes most about HVAC. “We feel our aggressiveness gives us the competitive advantage because our competition doesn’t change with the times as quickly as we do.”
Joseph Kishk agreed, adding: “I love all the new products and equipment. However, nothing trumps being able to make people comfortable.”
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating keeps up with the changing technology because it’s young, according to Raymond Kishk. He used the development of the company’s smartphone app as an example. “The instant smartphones took over the world, we created our app. Our competitors didn’t even have a website, but we already had an app. And all of our technicians have been on tablets for more than four years now.”
By using the company’s mobile app, customers don’t need to call in for service anymore. Instead, they can click on the app, type in their issue, and hit send. The request goes directly to the company’s dispatching department.
“A lot of people don’t want to pick up the phone anymore,” said Raymond Kishk. “When you have an app, everybody downloads the app. It’s so much easier. About 20 percent of our service calls come in through the app.
“I have a retail store with 75 locations that just uses the app to place service calls,” he continued. “They don’t even call in because the app is just simpler and faster. The guy is already at the store, so he doesn’t have to go to his office, remember to call, or search his cell phone for a number. The app keeps a record, allowing him to simply enter the store number and the reason he’s contacting us, and he’s done.”
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating prides itself on its honesty and integrity when it comes to customer service. “No matter the size of our firm, we’re still a family-owned business, and everyone will always receive personal attention,” Raymond Kishk said.
Joseph Kishk added the company puts itself in the customer’s shoes and focuses on an individualized, personal approach.
“Most HVAC companies get an installation project and leave it with the project manager,” he explained. “At Interstate Air, I’m completely involved in every project, making sure everything is running smoothly while keeping the client aware of our progress. Our project managers are there to make sure the work gets done properly, but I’m there for the relationship. If we see an HVAC design that we aren’t happy with, we will re-engineer the entire project based off of the needs we know our clients have. Our clients are very upscale and high-end purchasers. We know what they want and will do everything in our power to give it to them.”
Additionally, Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating shows up on time and keeps its promises to customers.
“A lot of these other companies will push you around, saying, ‘Okay, we’ll be there,’ and then three or four days later, nobody shows up,” Kay said. “No one gives you a phone call, and it ends up being a mess. We’re constantly reaching out to customers and staying on top of our game. We don’t want to keep anyone in the dark, which is what a lot of other companies do.”
Interstate Air Conditioning & Heating also offers service contracts for its clients, which include regularly scheduled maintenance, free service calls, free minor parts, and priority response. The company has sold more than 5,000 contracts, mostly due to the priority response aspect, according to Raymond Kishk.
“We’re in a market where our customers really want priority,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about in New York City. Otherwise, they’re going to have a difficult time getting their units repaired in the heat of the summer.
“Our long-term goal is be one of the most successful HVAC companies in the New York City metro area,” Raymond Kishk continued. “We will accomplish that by doing right by each and every client. We will do anything in our power to make sure no one is left with a bad taste. We strive to exceed everyone’s expectations.”
Publication date: 9/28/2015