AJ Garrott began installing furnaces and air conditioners at the age of 16. A year later, he began working with Horger Plumbing and Heating, which was willing to adapt Garrott's hours around his high school football schedule.
Garrott continued to work for John Horger after graduating high school, eventually becoming the company’s lead installer and main service tech.
“During my time with Horger’s, I learned not only life skills but also how to navigate through stressful situations when troubleshooting equipment and working with difficult customers.” He said. “I loved the process of fixing what was broke.”
Eventually, Horger elected to retire and close the doors to his business. But, as Garrott quickly discovered, as one door closes, another opens.
“That same night I learned Horger was closing, Scott Robertson visited Stark State College, where I was taking classes, on the lookout for a potential employee,” Garrott said. “Many students set up interviews. I came out as the top candidate and was hired to work at the counter and in the warehouse of their Akron, Ohio branch.”
Transitioning from the field to the counter proved difficult for Garrott.
“Going from physically working on equipment to answering phones, invoicing, and pulling material was tough,” he said. “That said, many contractors and I hit it off right away as we had respect for one another from the work I’ve done in the field.”
Eight months later, Garrott was promote to the position of HVAC counterman in Robertson’s Canton, Ohio branch, where Garrott honed his technical skills as well as leraned how to design radiant floor heat applications.
One year later, he was promoted to the engineering department at Robertson’s corporate headquarters in Alliance, Ohio, where he learned more of the technical and design aspects of the HVAC business.
“I came into this position thinking I knew a lot, but I quickly found there was so much more to learn,” he said. “It was a very humbling time. I started learning the business end of distribution and purchasing tools, parts, and accessories.”
During this time, Garrott began teaching HVAC classes at his alma mater, Stark State College. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the company’s Rheem Service Coordinator. Finally, in March 2018, he was promoted to supervisor of the company’s engineering department.
Garrott’s hard work has earned him many accolades, including the 2015 and 2017 Rheem Regional DSC of the Year as well as the Robertson Heating Supply Support Person of the Year.
Now 34 years old, Garrott looks back at his near 20-year tenure as a worthwhile career.
“HVAC has provided me with a career and not just a job,” Garrott said. “I do not have the stress of wondering if I will have a pay check tomorrow or if I will be able to put food on the table and provide for my wife and kids. I know when I go to work, if I put forth my best effort and help the company to grow, we will succeed.”
Garrott hopes to continue to help Robertson Heating Supply find success and eventually leave a legacy for younger generations to look up to.
“For those just entering the industry — be humble, yet be hungry and push yourself to excel in your everyday work,” he said. “Let your goals be known to management. Work hard to achieve those goals. Hard work and perseverance will not be overlooked. Have patience. There is a lot to be said for experience, and experience does not happen overnight.”
When not manning Robertson’s engineering department, Garrott enjoys spending time with his wife of 12 years and three children as well as hunting, football, golf, and flipping and renovating houses.
“I come from a hard-working blue collared family, and I believe I carry this blue-collar mentality and work ethic into a white-collar atmosphere,” he said. “I attribute a lot of my growth to this. There was nothing Robertson’s asked that I would not do whether it be sweeping the floors or driving five hours to conduct a training class.
“I believe reward, praise, and recognition drives individuals to have a desire to excel,” Robertson continued. “Even when things are tough, I sit back and remember I can make a difference today with my attitude, work ethic, and how I treat fellow friends and coworkers. Personally, what motivates me the most is seeing individuals you’ve trained or mentored. Succeed. Just knowing you’ve made a difference with them and you were part of the reason for their success is extremely rewarding.”
Every Wednesday, Distribution Trends magazine will feature a full profile on one of its 2018 Top 40 Under 40 winners. To see the list in its entirety, visit http://bit.ly/DT2018Top40. To see each of the full Top 40 features, visit http://bit.ly/DT2018Top40U40.
Publication date: 08/08/18