2019 HVAC Contractor Confidence Spreads
Industry professionals share growth, expectations for the year
The economy is up, money is flowing, and 2019 is already in motion. Across the nation, many contractors have prepared for the new year with plans of growth, improvement, and a bevy of changes to increase their businesses. Although they may be prepared, unknown factors exist, and contractors have questions as to what the year might hold.
FIRST 30 DAYS
“We are booked out until February in both service and install,” said Ed Bouchard, accounts and service manager and sales engineer, Victoria Heating Cooling & Plumbing, Bellingham, Massachusetts. “In 2019, we are making changes so that we have proper truck stock and better options and benefits to attract employees.”
Greg McAfee, president and founder of McAfee Heating and Air, Kettering, Ohio, is looking forward to a cold winter to kick off the new year with a strong start, and hiring new employees is at the top of his to-do list.
“We are just coming off a record-breaking year, with an increase of over 30 percent from 2017,” said McAfee. “We purchased over a dozen new vehicles in 2018, and we continue to invest in the latest and greatest tools and equipment to make all our jobs easier and faster.”
This year, he is rolling out the company’s new McAfee Omega Plan. According to him, this will be the last McAfee System any of his customers will ever have to buy. The new plan never charges for maintenance, repairs, filters, or humidifier pads. The plan also allows for the system to be replaced — at no charge — if it goes bad.
“Our customer base is high caliber, and they make it easy to do business with them,” he said. “We’ve taken an enormous amount of market share over the past five years and will continue to do so, as well as grow organically in 2019.”
GROWTH AND MOVEMENT
Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Plano, Texas, is expecting continued growth in 2019 despite the fact that the company will be relocating to a new shop.
“We have grown 30 percent over the last year, and we see an opportunity to grow more and gain market share as we help our employees grow and earn increased salaries,” said Paul Sammataro, president of Samm’s Heating and Air Conditioning. “We will also be adding a warehouse professional to expedite project setup, part ordering, and warehouse organizing in our larger, company-owned facility.”
Mike Tucker, owner of Tucker’s Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, Gaithersburg, Maryland, is moving his company to a new location as well. He is excited about the move and the potential growth of market share in the new county. The company has other intentions for 2019, too: to improve employee benefits, offer more training, and increase brand awareness. The owner’s biggest concern is the possible political fallout resulting from the midterm elections.
“I think it will hurt the economy,” Tucker said. “The president and both parties of Congress need to get back to civility and compromise.”
Despite January and February often being the slowest months of the year, Travis Smith, president of Sky Heating, Tualatin, Oregon, is excited. His company is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and Smith expects it to be “our best year ever.”
To celebrate, Sky Heating has a new logo and new wraps for all of its vehicles. The company made big changes in 2018, as it expected a second economic downturn. When that downturn didn’t occur, it positioned the company for an even stronger 2019, according to Smith.
“We are going to be focusing more on commercial service that can turn into commercial replacement,” said Smith. “We see a slowdown in new construction, and while it is only a small percentage of our business, we want to make it up somewhere else.”
Rising interest rates and what Smith described as a “looming recession” stays tucked in the back of his mind, but for now, he will concentrate on increased operational efficiency and hitting the big four-oh.
“The future looks very bright if the economy continues to grow,” said Tye Leishman, president of Tempco Heating & Cooling Specialists, Powell River, British Columbia. “If it doesn’t, we will have to pivot quickly and adapt to the change.”
This year will bring about substantive changes in several associations, including ACCA and the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
ACCA’s big changes began last year in September.
“Since my appointment as interim president and CEO, ACCA has initiated a robust onboarding and member recognition program, which is being noticed by other associations,” said Barton James. “Many associations are going through changes and trying to figure out new ways to attract younger business owners and leaders. ACCA recognized this early on, and we’re proud to be leading the way.”
In 2019, ACCA will be placing a stronger focus on regional programs and building stronger relationships with its state and regional allied contractor associations. With this comes a push to remind contractors that just because they are a member of a local or state ACCA, it doesn’t mean that they are also members of the national ACCA. The association will be stepping away from the IE3 brand this year as well.
“Coming soon, the IE3 magazine, website, and e-newsletters will be brought back in to ACCA,” said James. “We will be communicating what we do through channels branded as ACCA, not the IE3 model from years past.”
James went on to express how excited he was about all of the changes being made as well as the engagement and leadership the association has from its board of directors.
“ACCA’s volunteer leaders are truly committed to transforming their national association and ensuring ACCA remains the preeminent association that continues to lead,” he said.
AHRI is also making significant structural changes in the year ahead. Approved by the board in November of 2018, AHRI’s membership will be organized by sector rather than by individual product sections.
“Brand new industry sector leadership councils will oversee each of four new industry sectors: applied, heating, refrigeration, and unitary,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of AHRI. “These councils will manage the activities and programs necessary to ensure success in standards, certification, advocacy, and analytics. This plan will allow our organizations to … be more responsive to changes in the regulatory and policy arena as well as in the global industry as a whole.”
AHRI is continuing to advocate for a national phasedown structure for HFC refrigerants.
It will also continue to monitor Section 301 and 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products as well as other products from China.
“We look forward to continuing our efforts to bring about common-sense reforms to the 40-year-old Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which governs federal energy efficiency standards for many of our members’ products,” said Yurek. “We will be re-invigorating our efforts to find common ground with energy efficiency advocates on ways to make the law work better in the modern world.”
Publication date: 1/21/2019