Company: Coastal HVAC Supply, Houston, Texas
Number of Branches: 5
Number of Employees: 45
Year Founded: 2008
Q: What do you wish you knew when you first started out in the HVACR business?
Larry Plocheck: How rewarding it would be to open your own business and to be able to work with family.
Q: If you had to go back to school to take a course you passed on, what would it be and why?
Larry Plocheck: Spanish would be very helpful communicating with many of our customers.
Q: Where do you see your company in 10 years? (Remember, I’ll be back in 10 years to see if you’re accurate.)
Larry Plocheck: We opened five locations during the first five years and haven’t expanded in the last several years. But [we] do have plans to open a minimum of three more locations in the next several years. I also expect we will see some retirement in upper management, which will open opportunities for the next generation during the next 10 years. My sons [Joshua and Justin] should be handling most of the daily operations at Coastal.
Q: What interest(s) do you have that very few people know about? Tell us something about it.
Larry Plocheck: I’m really an open book, so there isn’t much people don’t know about me, but in recent years, I’ve gone from a hunter to someone that enjoys watching wildlife. I have feeders in the backyard and often spend hours at the kitchen window watching squirrels and birds play.
Q: Is there a business leader (or someone from any discipline or profession) whom you admire and even try to emulate? Why?
Larry Plocheck: This is the easiest of all the questions to answer. My father was absolutely the one whom I admired and try to emulate. It brings tears to my eyes as I sit here and think of the things I would like to say about him. I had the pleasure of working beside him in this industry for 17 years, before his passing away 20 years ago. Ironically, during this time, I was the boss, and he actually worked for me, but our relationship was never like a boss and an employee. He was everything you could ever ask for in a father, friend or an employee. I have a picture of him in my office and often look up at it and think how would Dad have handled this? Our legal name is Direct Airflow Distributors dba Coastal HVAC Supply, and if you use the acronym, it spells D.A.D.s; our corporate office phone number is 281-445-3237, which 3237 also spells DADS. We don’t advertise our phone number this way because, personally, I dislike those, but it’s nice for me to know it. For those who had the pleasure of knowing him, I don’t need to explain why I would like to be just like him. Everything that I do is done as a tribute to my dad.
Q: What was the hardest decision — up to now — that you have had to make in the HVACR business? Tell us about it.
Larry Plocheck: I would say leaving a high-paying position with a large wholesaler after they were purchased to start Coastal.
Q: What was the best business advice you ever got? Explain.
Larry Plocheck: I have been very lucky since starting Coastal to have received advice from numerous people, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be to join the buying group, Blue Hawk. Joining Blue Hawk is the best financial investment I have ever made. Operating a small business is hard enough without having to worry about the yearly negotiations with all of the vendors. Some of the other benefits are the relationships with other members, vendors, best practices and quarterly rebates. The entire staff at Blue Hawk is always there to help you with anything you need.
Q: What was the worst business advice you ever got?
Larry Plocheck: I was told that three out of five new businesses fail and that I shouldn’t quit my job to start a new business.
Q: What question from customers drives you crazy? Why?
Larry Plocheck: Do you think the Texans will win this weekend?
You never know which team will show up; the one that gets blown out by 40 points in the first half or the one that goes 16 quarters without letting the opponent score a touchdown.
Q: If you were the King of the HVACR Wholesaler world, what would be the one thing you would change in the industry?
Larry Plocheck: I would like to change the perception that everyone in the HVACR business drives a service truck.