Don Langston, president and CEO of Huntington Beach, California-based Aire Rite Airconditioning & Refrigeration Inc., got his start in the HVACR industry as cheap, conscripted labor for the family business at age 12.
“I worked for several years doing basic gopher work after school and during the summer months until joining the Marines at the age of 17,” Langston said. “After the Marines, I rejoined the family business and worked part time while attending college, where I focused on HVACR engineering.”
Now, Langston is preparing for the next chapter of his career as he assumes the role of ACCA National Chairman of the Board during ACCA’s IE3 Show, March 20-22, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Aire Rite was started by Langston’s parents in February 1972 out of their house. The company just celebrated its 45th anniversary.
“I tell people we are a very big, little company with sales in the $20 million range,” Langston said. “We are approximately 75 percent service and 25 percent construction and cover all six counties in Southern California. It’s a massive and diverse market of more than 22 million people.”
The commercial HVACR and mechanical services company currently employs 134 people.
“We service a very diverse customer base that includes commercial real estate, convenience stores, data processing, retail, restaurant, and the food service industry,” Langston said. “We offer a wide variety of choices in proactive maintenance programs, services, and equipment installation along with food machinery and specialized non-mechanical services.”
There are two things Langston likes most about working in the industry: the people and the impact.
“We [the HVAC industry] are by and large the best of America’s small businesses,” he said. “There is a strong diversity and entrepreneurial spirit within our industry. It’s the American Dream in motion. Additionally, we build, maintain, and service critical aspects of the entire economy. From comfort cooling in residential and nonresidential buildings to the safe storage and transport of food to all aspects of the medical and pharmaceutical industries and data processing centers, you name it; we keep modern society safe and comfortable. In the marketplaces I mentioned, plus many more, we are making improvements that have a positive impact to the conditioned space, IAQ, and energy efficiency.”
Aire Rite has been an ACCA member for more than 30 years. Langston joined the board of directors of ACCA’s California chapter in 2002 and the national board of directors in 2009.
“I decided to get engaged because I use the ACCA manuals and training and because ACCA provides contractors a specific voice within the HVACR industry with various government agencies,” he said.
Langston is excited to assume this new leadership role.
“I’ve been on the board of directors for eight years. During my tenure, I’ve held many committee roles. I’ve been a member of our executive committee for several years and represented ACCA on the executive committee of the Western HVAC Performance Alliance since 2009.
“I have a great deal of respect and gratitude for all of the past chairmen and directors who have preceded me,” Langston continued. “These men and women have given back much to our industry with their time, talent, and treasures. It’s a great honor to represent ACCA during these tumultuous and divisive times. I will do my best to provide an effective voice for all HVACR contractors — not only to the thousands of our members, but the industry as a whole.”
Paul Stalknecht, president and CEO, ACCA, believes Langston will make a great chairman for the organization.
“As we expand our commercial programs, we will be able to rely on his experience as a commercial contractor to continue to develop,” Stalknecht said. “Additionally, Don is well known for his interest and expertise in workforce issues, so he brings a wealth of experience that will benefit contractors. He is also someone who would be at home in a meeting at the White House and could certainly testify before Congress about installation practices. There’s no doubt that Don is up for the task of leading ACCA.”
Steve Lauten, president and CEO of Total Air and Heat Co. in Plano, Texas, and 2016 chairman of ACCA, said he is very excited for Langston and ACCA.
“I feel Don brings a new perspective to the HVAC community. His experience with high-efficiency commercial applications, renewable energy, and workforce development will certainly have an impact,” Lauten said. “ACCA has done well under the new membership model, and I expect Don to have a great year. Like all past chairmen, Don will continue to work on the things ACCA has in progress, such as revisions in how the DOE [U.S. Department of Energy], EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency], and OSHA [U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration] implement and decide what rulemaking requirements to implement. It’s ACCA’s hope that President Trump and his team will take a step back and allow the industry to have a voice in what ACCA feels is most important to our customers, contractors, and what’s best to help the country. I know Don has shared his key goals with the ACCA executive committee and ACCA staff. He is very focused on helping ACCA adapt as the workplace we serve adapts. The technology that is about to be launched is very exciting yet requires a lot of training as flammable refrigerants, connected technologies, and new products become available.”
The HVACR industry is rapidly changing and keeping up is going to be challenging, Langston said.
“The improvements and lower prices of technology will continue to improve the design of compressors, motors, and controls. This will have a dramatic impact on the indoor climate of residential and nonresidential buildings. So much of a system’s performance is currently hidden from our sight. Making system performance, fault detection, and diagnosis visible will change behavior. It will have a positive impact on how we interact with HVACR equipment and the entire system. Additionally, the Internet of Things [IoT] is knitting together various sensors and software to give people at every level more information to make informed decisions.”
As for the remainder of his term, Langston plans to focus on the workforce.
“Our industry is facing an unprecedented technician shortage and I feel we need to focus on overcoming that,” he said. “I also feel we need to rebrand our workforce from the blue-collar workers of the 20th century to the green-collar technicians of the 21st century.”
Publication date: 3/20/2017Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!