LAS VEGAS — To NBA fans, the name Larry Legend is synonymous with Larry Bird.
And, now, the HVACR industry has its own rendition of Larry Legend in Larry Taylor.
Taylor, whose career in the industry exceeds five decades, was honored as an inaugural Legend of HVACR Award winner during the 2017 Service World Expo, Sept. 7-8 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“I’m very sentimental about all the awards I’ve received, and I’m absolutely honored to receive this award,” Taylor said. “This is an amazing industry. This world would not be what it is today without air conditioning and refrigeration. I’m just a contractor who’s tried to do his part on behalf of the industry. I’m humbled and honored to win this award.”
A TRUE INDUSTRY VETERAN
Taylor was raised on a 700-acre farm in Oklahoma where his family raised livestock, such as pigs, horses, and cows. After watching his father slave for hours and spend season after season literally praying for rain, he vowed to find a career that wasn’t dependent on the weather.
“I started school at Oklahoma State Technology Institute, which ended up being quite a process,” Taylor said, reminiscing on his life’s journey. “I took a couple of semesters off and dropped out over the summers. Then, I had to go to boot camp and then to Vietnam. That two-year program took me seven years to get through, but I stayed with it and made it through.”
In 1965, his professional HVAC career began with Cole’s Year Around Air Conditioning. A few years later, in 1971, Taylor began working with TDService, a division of Texas Distributors, as a service technician. His work ethic and knowledge helped him work his way up the ranks. After serving as the company’s service supervisor and service manager, he was promoted to the position of vice president and manager of TDService’s Fort Worth location in 1984. Three years later, in 1987, he assumed the position of vice president, operations manager, at the company.
Aiming to take his career in another direction, Taylor purchased AirRite Air Conditioning Co. Inc. in 1990.
From day one, the company’s mission was to provide superior service to its customers. As Taylor entrenched himself further and further into his role of business owner, he acknowledged that something was missing.
In 1991, while attending a Lennox Focus on the Future meeting, he discovered his missing link in home-performance contracting.
“I bought my first blower door in 1991 from Retrotec before it became the Comfort Institute,” Taylor said. “In the early days, it was tough, but we eventually grew a very large portion of our business based on home-performance contracting. It was an out-of-the-box approach and was different from what anyone else was doing. We certainly weren’t changing out two boxes a day like some companies were. We’d be lucky to change out one box in two days back then, but it set us apart.”
Through home-performance contracting, Taylor and AirRite began tapping new streams of revenue in duct sealing, attic insulation, blower door tests, ventilation, and more, which allowed the company to grow exponentially. In a 10-year span, from 1991 to 2001, Taylor acquired three companies, H&G Mechanical, CloudAire Air Conditioning Co. Inc., and GISCO Air Conditioning Co. Inc.
In 2002, he parlayed his passion for home-performance by starting a new company, HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Raters of Texas LLC.
Fifteen years later, Taylor’s enthusiasm for home-performance contracting hasn’t wavered.
“I’m more excited about whole-house contracting today as I was back then,” Taylor said. “I’ve heard people talking about it in the hallways here at Service World Expo, and people still come up to me asking about it all the time. As the equipment continues to gain efficiency and manufacturers put more intelligence into whole-house air delivery and filtration, static pressure, and air changes, these concepts will be forced upon contractors.
“Additionally, our country is getting sicker,” Taylor continued. “That itself will drive a need for a better indoor environment. When that happens, the smart contractors, of which there are many, will adapt and have no choice but to get involved in this market.”
A DECORATED LEADER
While multiplying the size and capital of his businesses and essentially establishing the craft of home-performance contracting would likely be enough to fill most HVACR contractors’ agendas, Taylor found time to do much, much more on behalf of the industry.
Taylor was elected ACCA chairman in 2001, which is among the greatest moments of his storybook career.
“What a year to be the chairman of ACCA, with 9/11,” Taylor said. “What an honor to serve during that time and help get the industry and country transition through that tragedy.”
Other career highlights include earning ACCA’s highest individual honor, the Spirit of Independence Award, in 2002, and being named ACCA’s Residential Contractor of the Year in 2012.
“Receiving these awards was a total surprise,” Taylor said. “They came out of the blue. It is a dream come true to receive these awards — overwhelming. I’m so grateful and keep asking, ‘Why me?’ I feel I’m no different than any other hard-working guy.”
Additionally, Taylor carved out enough time to become a founding member of Service Nation Alliance and Comfort Institute, serve as an ACCA board member, serve on Emerson’s advisory council, and much more.
In 2012, after 47 active years in the industry, Taylor finally took his foot off the accelerator and sold AirRite to Crawford Services.
PURSUE WITH PASSION
While he doesn’t carry the title of owner anymore, Taylor remains active in the industry as an advisor, coach, and consultant.
One piece of advice he has for young techs is to never stop learning or be creative.
“Always be the inquisitive kid you were when you were five or six,” he said. “Look for what else you can do. Always think outside the box. Some say I didn’t think outside the box, I lived outside the box. Stay focused, build on your passion, and do it with honesty and integrity. Life is too short not to do what you want. Have a good time and enjoy yourself every step of the way.”
Taylor said, above all else, it’s a person’s passion that sets him or her apart.
“Without passion, there is frustration, confusion, low morale, inconsistency, and, ultimately, failure,” he said. “If you don’t love what you do, stop doing it, and go and find whatever that something is.”
While Taylor’s unsure exactly where he’s at in his career, he’s certainly not ready to call it quits just yet.
“I’m referring to my situation as a change in direction,” Taylor joked. “I can’t quite get away from this industry because it’s in my blood. I’m just trying to stay connected and help build bridges for those interested in careers in this industry.
“Every time I get to thinking I’m just about done with HVAC, something like this Legends award pops up,” Taylor continued. “Perhaps you guys have stirred up some new feelings that indicate my ride isn’t over quite yet.”
Publication date: 10/16/2017