It is easy to forget how many young people are doing truly great things for the industry. This list highlights some of the best and the brightest coming up in the HVAC industry.
The individuals chosen represent every aspect of the industry, including the manufacturing, distribution, instructional, and contracting sectors. There are those who grew up in the industry and those who entered it in the most interesting of circumstances.
There are brief write-ups on each individual who made the list. And while the stories of how they reached the HVAC industry vary greatly, the common denominator is that they love the field and their careers.
While hundreds could certainly have been highlighted, we were tasked with choosing the top 40. Check out the list to see who made this year’s list and get to know the individuals who are already leading the trade into the future.
Company: Johnstone Supply Corporate
Title: Director of Strategic Accounts
An angry customer brought Chris Alonso to the HVAC industry. His dad managed and owned automotive service shops. Alonso was working at the front desk with a customer who was unhappy with a vehicle service performed at the dealership. Through the conversation, he was able to make the customer feel comfortable that they would correct any issues and be sure she was 110 percent happy with the final service.
“Little did I know, a general manager for Carrier Enterprise, Larry Bagley, was standing by as witness to this conversation. Larry pulled me to the side after I was finished working with my customer and asked if I’d be interested in an HVAC territory manager role.”
Of course, the rest is history. During his time at Carrier Enterprise, Alonso worked as a Bryant territory manager and took the territory from almost zero to $3 million in less than a year and a half.
Alonso has had success at many different HVAC stops: marketing manager for an HVAC contractor, Bryant territory manager in eastern Oklahoma, sales manager for Carrier Enterprise in north Texas, and regional account manager and national accounts manager for Carrier Corp.
He is currently the director of strategic accounts for Johnstone Supply Corporate.
“All of these roles have been instrumental in building my industry acumen,” Alonso said. “My HVAC career goal is to continue to grow my knowledge and foundation within the industry and perform to the best of my ability in my role. I have an entrepreneurial outlook and enjoy working within new verticals to explore business opportunities outside of the traditional HVAC channels.”
Title: Chief Operations Officer
HVAC always played a part in Brandon Anderson’s life. Growing up, his friend’s dad owned an HVAC company that provided him with his first experiences with the industry. At age 23, Anderson came to Morris-Jenkins Air Conditioning to work as an HVAC installer and quickly worked his way up at the company.
After installing units for around five years, he became a service technician. In 2012, just one year after becoming a service tech, Anderson was promoted to service supervisor. In 2015, he continued his journey and became service director at Morris-Jenkins. By 2018, Anderson had earned himself the title of chief operations officer (COO).
“When I first got into management, my No. 1 goal was to create a better work/life balance for the department,” Anderson said. “That can be uncommon in the industry, and people’s family lives and marriages suffer. Now, as COO, my goal is to bring that to all departments … to take care of our employees.”
Anderson considers it his biggest HVAC accomplishment that he’s able to be an active part of a company that has managed to grow immensely while still maintaining high standards and a culture that deeply cares about its employees and customers. Because of his hard work, the people of Morris-Jenkins, especially the field employees, enjoy a proper work/life balance.
“They’re able to make a great living, make good money to provide for their families, and work for a company that truly cares about them,” Brandon stated. “We’ve doubled — almost tripled — in revenue in the last five years, and since I started, we’ve doubled in size twice.”
Company: All Cool A/C & Heating
Title: Vice President
Cody Bellamy’s career HVAC goals can be summed up into three items: happy employees, superior customer service, and community outreach. The vice president of All Cool A/C & Heating takes those items very seriously.
“I am a firm believer that happy employees are productive employees, which is why I strive to create and maintain a culture in our company that makes our employees excited to come to work each day,” Bellamy said. “I also want to change the negative preconceived stigma customers have with HVAC contractors by providing exceptional customer service. This means timely service by well-trained technicians at an affordable price as well as being sympathetic to their needs and providing honest evaluations of a customer’s options to see what makes the most sense for them and their family.
“It is also very important to me to give back to the community, not only monetarily but also with our time as a company — such as helping make courtesy check calls for Senior Meals on Wheels,” he continued.
Bellamy received his Texas Class A State contractor’s license on his very first attempt at the young age of 24. As the company’s vice president, he oversees sales, accounting, customer service, equipment purchasing, software implementation, and advertising. He has helped grow the company from five employees to 17 while doubling the annual revenue.
“As a father of three, I hope to inspire my children with my hard work, honesty, and dedication to my craft, just as my father did for me,” he said.
Company: Howard Mechanical Services
Title: Owner/Mechanical Engineer
A lot of people follow their fathers into the HVAC contracting business. Alex Bishoff followed his friend’s father.
“My longtime childhood friend Jamal’s father had his own mechanical contracting company,” Bishoff said. “I wasn’t even out of high school and I was already learning how to plumb hydronic boilers and hand-fabricate sheet metal transitions on split system installs. I owe all the credit to Trev and Keith from T&T Heating and Air.”
Bishoff started his own company less than five years ago. Much of the company’s work is in Washington, D.C.
Bishoff embraced the ductless technology and earned Diamond Contractor status in his first year of selling Mitsubishi equipment. He has trained more than 60 technicians.
“It is great watching them succeed and develop themselves further with the trade,” Bishoff said.
Bishoff’s short-term goals are to continue building his company’s brand in partnership with Mitsubishi.
“We want to set the example that they use in the VRF world for our peers in the trade,” he said. “Our long-term goals would be to expand the brand internationally so that we can help sustain the trade and promote being a tradesmen to those coming into the workforce. One thing is for sure about the HVAC trade ... there is more work out here than people actually doing it. We don’t want to limit ourselves; we want to extend the opportunities we create on a global platform for those who are ready to answer the trade demands that will only increase in the future.”
Company: Quality Mechanical Services
Title: Service Technician
A lot of HVAC contractors are willing to hire technicians without experience with the realization that they will need to provide some training. Zack Breegle is one of those success stories.
“I got hired at a company without any experience and took classes in the evenings after work. I was fascinated with the science behind the trade, and I wanted to learn as much as possible about HVAC,” Breegle said. “So I took my education very seriously and grew to love the industry.”
Breegle was 24 years old when he was accepted into Steamfitters Local 449 (HVACR) Mechanical Equipment Service Apprenticeship Program (MES). The MES program is five years in length, which includes 1,200 hours of classroom instruction and a minimum of 8,500 hours of field experience.
Breegle has been employed by the same contractor throughout his entire five years of apprenticeship — Quality Mechanical, one of Pittsburgh’s premier mechanical contractors, providing installation and service on all types of equipment and controls. Breegle has mastered the commercial market, proving his abilities, on power burners, flame safety controls, combustion tuning, hot water boilers, steam boilers, traps, and pressure reducing stations. He also has extensive knowledge on chillers of all types and applications.
“I would like to eventually become a service manager or start my own HVAC business. I would also enjoy teaching the trade to others,” Breegle said.
Company: Standard Air Conditioning
Title: Service Technician
Forrest Carroll was hired earlier this year to lead the service/maintenance department at Standard Air Conditioning. He made an instant impact, contributing to the two highest grossing months in the company’s three-year history.
While many in the HVAC industry encourage students to forego college education to enter trade school, Carroll chose an alternative path. He earned a business degree from the University of Tennessee. Upon completion of the degree, he dedicated himself to learning the trade.
“I found myself wanting to spend my time in a hands-on job and less time in an office setting. I was encouraged through a family friend who is a master plumber to pursue a career in the trades,” Carroll said. “Seeing an ever-growing demand for young technicians in the trades, I saw it as a good opportunity to continue educating myself post-college. I hope to pair my business education with trade skills when the time comes, but I wanted to begin learning the trade as soon as possible. Once I made the move, I never looked back.”
Carroll plans to attain his mechanical contractor license within the next year and aspires to own his own business. He has already achieved NATE certification in gas furnace and heat pump installation and service while making the progression from install apprentice to service technician.
“My current employer has encouraged me to seek continuing education,” Carroll said.
Company: Day & Night Heating & Air Conditioning Co.
Title: Lead Install Mechanic
Delon Collins has paid his dues at Day & Night Heating & Air Conditioning Co. He began working for his parents’ company when he was only 11 years old.
“Almost every break from school, I would be helping technicians, installers, or in the backyard breaking down discarded systems,” Collins said. “When I graduated high school at 17, I went to college only to realize it was not for me, so I came back and started working full time.”
He worked his way up from install apprentice to install mechanic, maintenance technician, service technician, and now lead install mechanic, where he oversees the day-to-day operations for the install department. In this position, he has helped implement changes for interdepartmental communication as
well as teamwork throughout the company. Collins has also brought a more technical focus to the installation department, and they strive to install
the equipment in a way that is easier for the next tech to service.
Collins has obtained four NATE certifications and two NCI certifications. Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked with management to help find alternate sources for face masks and gloves. Also during the pandemic, he helped management reorganize their parts room and inventory process and procedures.
“My goal is to train a new generation of HVAC lifers to take pride in quality workmanship, great customer service, and a healthy workplace culture revolving around our core values: diligence, integrity, and problem-solving,” Collins said.
Company: Tecumseh Products
Title: Application Engineer
While initially brought into Tecumseh as part of the company’s development program, Justin Daily was trained in multiple departments, including sales, engineering, marketing, and the engineering labs. After one year of learning about the company and refrigeration engineering, he was assigned to the product management team and tasked with supporting the sales team with technical knowledge.
In addition to his focus on Tecumseh’s variable-speed BLDC compressor line, his responsibilities also expanded to include sales accounts dedicated to the Masterflux product line. This role allowed Daily to explore a new and burgeoning market in the HVAC industry, working on applications like mobile refrigeration, no-idle air conditioning, geothermal heat pumps, marine air conditioning, and battery cooling. In this role, Daily has worked with customers from around the world and helped with technologies and products.
During his tenure, he coded a mass cross-reference list using Python. The list contained all valid Tecumseh replacements for competitor compressors. Within one week, the list had been refined to a 1-1 cross reference suitable for HVAC wholesalers and aftermarket use.
“I hope to continue working directly with customers on new and innovative HVAC projects. The unique market niche of our DC compressors allows me to gain experience in many fields, from trucking to medical applications and everywhere in between. Being able to see these industries from a technical and commercial standpoint has been extremely interesting and personally rewarding,” Daily said.
Company: Jefferson College
Title: HVAC Adjunct Instructor
When people ask Kati Donahue about her job, she says that “teaching HVAC is the dream job I never knew I wanted.”
Donahue started working part-time in HVAC while she was still in high school. She still was working there when she began attending St. Louis University full-time, working toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. After a few years in law enforcement, she decided a career change was in order and returned to school to earn her associate degree in HVAC at Jefferson College. As a student, Donahue performed duties unofficially as a lab assistant due to her previous work experience. In her second year of the program, she took first place in the Missouri State SkillsUSA sheet metal competition. After graduating from Jefferson College, she accepted a position working at Jefferson College as an HVAC adjunct instructor.
In her time as an instructor, Donahue has had several students medal at Missouri State SkillsUSA competitions, and one student placed third at Nationals in sheet metal. In 2019, Donahue received the Outstanding Achievement Award as an adjunct faculty member from the Jefferson College Foundation and was also awarded the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award from Missouri Community College Association. She has dedicated herself to continuing her HVAC education and enhancing her teaching skills by taking advantage of both face-to-face and online professional development.
“I want to help increase the number of women who enter the HVAC workforce by being a positive role model and mentor for them,” Donahue said.
Company: Hero Plumbing, Heating & Air
Garrett Elmore started his business about two years ago in Utah. So you might be surprised about his goals for Hero Plumbing, Heating & Air.
“I want to be a $30 million company within the next five years,” Elmore said. “I want 50 trucks on the road and 100 incredibly happy employees.”
It would be easy to doubt Elmore if he hadn’t grown his business from zero to $4 million in just two years. He also runs a digital marketing company that helps contractors all over the country generate more leads.
Elmore entered the United States Air Force at the young age of 19, went into the civil engineering division, and specialized in HVAC. His first deployment was to Saudi Arabia at 20 years of age.
“It was there that I maintained the air conditioning systems for the tents and drone operations,” Elmore said. “After my tour, I hired on at a local heating and air conditioning company in my town and quickly fell in love with the residential side of HVAC. I haven’t looked back since.”
He graduated from USAF HVAC trade school at age 19 and did $2 million of business in his first year while hiring 15 employees.
Company: Service Champions Heating & Air Conditioning
Title: Director of Digital Marketing
As the director of digital marketing for Service Champions Heating & Air Conditioning, Sarah Ghirardo was responsible for increasing digital revenue by more than 60 percent in 2019, and the company continues to see growth in 2020.
It is fair to say Ghirardo took the company from the dinosaur age to the digital age. When she started, only 7 percent of the leads came from digital, and in four short years, that has grown to 40 percent.
“I work with the absolute best people,” Ghirardo said. “They have taught me so much. It changed my personal development path and fast-paced my career. Without them, I’d be incomplete, as they are a part of my family.”
Much of her success comes from being self-taught and constantly asking the right questions of vendor partners to ensure everyone is keeping a close eye on results. Ghirardo’s talents have been tapped into more areas than just digital — she is instrumental in the success of all the marketing channels as well, including television, radio, direct mail, and others.
That is not the only role Ghirardo has with the company.
“I am responsible for overseeing our Service Champions Cares program, which is our community involvement program. I love bringing HVAC to those in need and supporting the community,” she said. “This company is truly about personal development, and I love to jump in where I can and pave the way for others to be more successful in their personal development.”
Company: Air Innovations
Title: Division President, Home Health Division
Robert Hadley is quick to say he is embedded in the HVAC industry. That’s what happens when you are the fourth generation in the family to work in the industry.
“My goals are to pave a way for the younger generations to come,” Hadley said. “I want them to know what a great industry we have and that not all great careers require you to have a college degree. Another goal is to leave my children with something they can be proud of as my father did for me.”
Hadley started off in the industry as a field technical consultant for Lennox. He is now the division president of the Home Health Division for Air Innovations. He is also heavily involved in the HVAC sector of the SkillsUSA competition as a judge and technical advisor.
“I think one of my biggest accomplishments in HVAC is forming an alliance with my competitors to increase the value of our trade,” Hadley said.
Hadley is an advocate for the HVAC industry — he pushes to have code changes made that not only helps consumers, but contractors as well. He understands the industry is changing and has embraced the fact that challenges occur with complex systems.
Often, Hadley provides his personal number to homeowners in the event they have any questions.
Company: Johns Manville
Title: Senior HVAC Product Manager
Brennan Hall’s recipe for success stems from 12 years of HVAC experience that spans the contractor, distribution, and manufacturing channels with roles in sales, national accounts, and product management. His unique employment background provides him exceptional insight into the needs of his customers as well as the market.
For the last five years, Hall has managed Johns Manville’s duct wrap, duct liner, and duct board product lines at six different Johns Manville manufacturing facilities. He is currently the HVAC product manager.
Under Hall’s leadership, these product lines have grown at annual rates that have consistently outpaced the market. His success in the market can be attributed to his ability to capitalize on his well-rounded experience to ensure that the products he brings to market are designed to help optimize the user experience.
“I want to leave my mark on the fiberglass insulation business and the HVAC industry in a way that helps it grow and evolve,” Hall said. “What many people don’t realize is that, in general, it is notoriously difficult to innovate in the fiberglass industry because it has such a long history. It has been a very well-defined industry for years.”
Hall is the third generation in his family to make a career out of the HVAC industry. His grandfather was a contractor who owned an HVAC and plumbing business. Hall’s father has worked in the HVAC industry for 35 years as both a fiberglass manufacturing sales rep and within the HVAC distribution business.
“I have been very fortunate to work for a number of excellent companies and exceptional business leaders who have helped me gain invaluable corporate knowledge and hone my business acumen,” Hall said.
Company: Mid Florida A/C
Justin Hall did not think he was going to end up in the HVAC industry. He graduated from college with a criminal justice degree and had a brief tenure interning with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Upon graduation, Hall decided to change course and help his father with the family business during the housing boom of 2004. His contributions over the last 16 years have continued to advance the company. Mid Florida A/C’s ability to remain nimble and relevant are in large part due to Hall’s expertise in technology, marketing, and advancement.
Hall had the company go green by having a paperless invoice system using iPads, apps, and email. He also built up his maintenance agreement members into the thousands.
“It really helps to build trust with clients and gives us more opportunities to connect with them — especially in the off season, when we perform most of our yearly maintenance,” Hall said.
With an emphasis on their online social media presence and reviews on Google and Facebook, the company has compiled more than 500 five-star reviews. Mid Florida A/C continues to set the bar high for an industry that must adapt to an ever-changing world to remain dynamic and active with this essential service.
“We are keeping our family values and integrity that has made our business successful for 40 years, while also adapting to new technology that is forever changing,” Hall said.
Company: Daffan Cooling and Heating
Title: Social Media Manager
Social media is becoming an important way to reach customers, and McKenna Harless is having great success at it. Harless is the social media manager for HVAC contractor Daffan Cooling and Heating.
Her passion and energy have helped Daffan have a tremendous first quarter in 2020. The company gained eight points of gross margin and is enjoying 11 percent profitability this year.
Harless was not planning to have a career in HVAC.
“My dad started working at Daffan as a sales manager 20 years ago, and so I grew up with the company. I never thought I’d work there, but when my dad purchased the company and I moved away to college, I realized Daffan was a wonderful company and the HVAC industry is such an exciting and growing place to be,” Harless said.
Among her social media accomplishments is organically doubling the company’s Facebook page following in just two years. She will be teaching a breakout session on social media at Service World Expo in September.
Harless is excited about continuing to strengthen her social media skills in an HVAC career.
Company: Johnson Controls Inc.
Title: Regional Account Manager
In 2013, Stacey Harris was introduced to the HVAC industry when she accepted a position at an HVAC consumer financing company as a national field trainer based in St. Louis. An HVAC career was born.
After working with the Johnstone Supply organization on a national level for four years, Harris accepted a marketing position with Johnson Controls on the Coleman sales team in 2017. In 2018, she was promoted to regional account manager and graduated from Lindenwood University Summa Cum Laude with a corporate communications degree. Harris currently calls on the southern 13 states.
“I have met incredible people during my career who have given guidance, and I am extremely grateful for them,” Harris said.
Harris has organized and presented at 550 HVAC sales training seminars on consumer financing and Coleman dealer programs with over 6,200 HVAC companies in attendance. She has also created and delivered extensive program guides at both current and past companies to provide a comprehensive multi-level training tool for all processes and programs of the sales organization.
Another accomplishment was launching the DS Warranty Registration App for residential equipment to Johnstone partners for the most efficient way to register standard equipment warranties and purchasing of extended warranties.
“My goal is to create an unmatched experienced for my customers and going where someone has not gone before, from creating and implementing programs, simplifying processes, hosting trainings, or just answering the phone,” she said. “I am also passionate about the sales and marketing side of HVAC and am always discovering ways to incorporate my findings into a win for my partners.”
Company: EWC Controls
Title: National Sales Manager
Justin Hilaire has been with EWC Controls since 2017. As the company’s national sales manager, he leads the sales and marketing teams to effectively navigate the evolving HVAC industry. He oversees seven regional sales associates working directly for EWC Controls and 19 manufacturing representative agencies with 54 sales personnel covering all of North America. During this time, he has organized and led numerous efforts to streamline the connectivity process between the manufacturer, wholesaler, and manufacturer’s representative.
With more communications becoming electronic and virtual, Hilaire’s background has proved invaluable in spearheading the transition to the new reality of communication. He has helped EWC Controls and its wholesale customers connect and communicate electronically in a more cost-effective and efficient process, eliminating wasted time and human error.
A few of those projects included coordinating and training customers on EDI setup and transition, VMI setup at the wholesale level, and setup and training of virtual sales calls at each level of the process. His next task is to include the HVAC dealer in that process and tie the communications together to eliminate confusion, human error, or mistakes in the transaction process that takes place every day between all four levels of the HVAC industry.
“My career HVAC goals are to continue to grow as a leader within the industry and to be part of the generation that will make HVAC even more efficient and accessible,” Hilaire said.
Company: C&C Heating and Air Conditioning
Title: General Manager
At the age of 37, Hottle has become an expert in the residential heating and cooling industry. Hottle is third-generation HVAC and has 17 years of experience in the industry. C&C was founded by her grandfather and great uncle.
When she first started at C&C Heating and Air Conditioning, the company had 25 employees. Due to her influence, C&C has grown to 70 employees completing $12 million in revenue. This growth has been directly affected by having Hottle in a leadership position.
One of the areas Hottle is most passionate about is the call center. Under her leadership, C&C’s call center averages a 91 percent booking each month and sells an average of 100 club memberships over the phone. Call takers are trained in communication twice monthly, which has improved the overall customer’s experience.
“I love innovation and integrating technology into our day-to-day operations,” Hottle said.
Hottle is also the company’s spokesperson for all C&C Heating’s commercials. She is comfortable being in front of the camera and is a natural public speaker. She has been a contributor for Airtime500.
“I think one of my biggest accomplishments is hiring an unbelievably talented staff that has a love and passion for this industry, their careers, and for our company,” Hottle said. “One of the values that my parents instilled in me is that C&C Heating is about providing opportunity and growth for our employees.”
Company: Service Roundtable
Title: Connected Home Program Manager
The smart and connected home is a growing segment of the HVAC industry. Jason Johnson has a real handle on this market and is sharing his wisdom with HVAC contractors from around the country as the connected home program manager for Service Roundtable.
“Most of my experience actually comes from working with security integrators and dealers. My main focus in the roles was building or managing programs for residential automation, security, CCTV, access control, and commercial fire providers. When I heard what Service Nation was trying to accomplish with their connected strategy, I became interested in the position,” Johnson said. “I became even more excited when I met their leadership team and learned more about the HVAC companies we would be working with.”
Johnson was integral to Service Nation launching their connected home program, overseeing the content, process, and training materials. He had helped their residential contractors attract and retain new customers through the program. The HVAC providers can cross-sell more than 50 devices including thermostats, temperature sensors, HVAC monitoring devices, and security products.
“I want to help HVAC providers own the home. This allows them to be a one-stop shop for trending HVAC and connected services,” Johnson said. “Doing this helps increase exit profitability through adding more value to their maintenance, service, or membership agreements. The connected program supports the Service Nation mission to help service contractors improve their business and financial performance, leading to a profitable exit strategy.”
Company: Stevens Equipment Supply
Title: Customer Service Manager
Calen Kirkland has quickly moved himself up the HVAC distributor ladder since joining the industry in 2013. He has held the roles of counter trainee, inside sales, and outside sales, and now he is in charge of multiple locations for Stevens Equipment Supply. He also serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Heating and Cooling Association.
“My goal has always been to be a partner with the contractors that I work with,” Kirkland said. “I believe it’s the highest honor to be considered a partner and have the ability to bring value to the customers that I work with each day. My growth goals are to continue to become a more well-rounded leader by developing my financial acumen and operational efficiencies, and to make an impact on our company’s leadership team.”
Kirkland is currently coaching and mentoring a team of associates and managing a P&L of over $35 million. In his time at Stevens Equipment, he has worked with the executive team to set and develop market strategy that led to 15 percent growth through new business and expansion of existing business. Kirkland also helped develop a company training program for roles in sales, operations, and customer service representatives that is currently being utilized company-wide.
Kirkland takes pride in being available for customers and teammates, constantly working long hours and late nights. He is always trying to improve by listening to the latest podcast or reading the latest book to provide more value to his customers.
Company: Trane Technologies
Title: Gas Furnace Product Manager
In just a short time at Trane Technologies, Kellie Lindenmoyer has already established herself as an emerging leader at the company. As product manager, she is responsible for overseeing the Trane residential furnace portfolio to drive continued growth and expansion.
Lindenmoyer has been instrumental in the strategic development of Trane’s next generation of furnaces. In fact, she played a significant role in commercializing Trane’s redesigned furnace offering which meets the power consumption requirements of the Fan Energy Rating (FER) regulation. As a result, Lindenmoyer helped introduce many of the families in Trane’s newest line of furnaces, the S-Series.
“Starting my career in HVAC, and specifically at Trane Technologies, has inspired me to actively seek out projects where I can help develop top-tier products for our distributors, dealers, technicians, and ultimately our end user — homeowners,” Lindenmoyer said. “I take pride in the fact that I’m part of a team producing and selling the most reliable and high quality systems.”
Lindenmoyer was also instrumental in the launch of Trane’s newest brand, RunTru, which helps provide a competitively priced product in the company’s value market space.
“Looking ahead, I’m eager to learn more and expand my skillset as I progress in my career. I am currently enrolled in an MBA program at Louisiana State University Shreveport with a data analytic concentration to better bridge my brand marketing and management capabilities with my more analytical ones,” Lindenmoyer said.
Title: Vice President, Marketing & Member Services
While his title relates to marketing, Matulich is integrally involved in nearly everything EGIA does: shaping educational offerings (online and in-person), bringing together and working with some of the industry’s best educators and consultants in order to deliver maximum value to contractors who want to grow their businesses, juggling manufacturer and public utility partnerships, and much more.
Matulich joined EGIA in 2007 as the manager of both membership and marketing. At the time, EGIA had no internal marketing staff or membership department. The organization has grown tremendously since then. Prior to EGIA, he worked as a project manager for one of Silicon Valley’s top brand marketing agencies.
One of his biggest accomplishments was masterminding the branding, planning, and overall execution of EGIA’s annual EPIC conference, which has sold out each year of its existence and has quickly become one the most in-demand events in the HVAC industry.
“I want to continue building and maintaining EGIA as the largest membership organization dedicated to providing HVAC businesses with the tools, resources, and education they need to achieve their business goals,” Matulich said. “I also want to change the public perception about careers in HVAC and make it a more common first-choice career path for young adults.”
He is an active advocate for the EGIA foundation, which offers scholarships to young adults who want to be involved in the HVAC industry.
Company: Comfort Now Inc.
Dustin Miller started Comfort Now nine years ago with a huge dream in mind. His dream was to create a reputable, fast-growing HVAC company that was committed to serving the community, providing employment opportunities, and giving back to those who needed it most.
“I got involved in HVAC because of my dad. He was always involved in the industry, and I ended up following suit,” Miller said.
Miller has prided himself on not only serving his community but on providing life-changing opportunities for his employees. He challenges his employees to grow both professionally and also personally. He wants them to set their goals and work hard to obtain them, just as he has. Miller often recognizes raw talent and preexisting skillsets, which can be molded into HVAC greatness. In fact, a lot of his employees have been trained from the ground up. On many occasions, he has been able to provide trade training to candidates who would otherwise not be able to launch a career in the trade. Miller heavily invests his time, industry resources, and capital, into creating skilled, certified, and highly successful technicians.
“My goal is to maintain a thriving and reputable HVAC business that continues to provide job opportunities and positively impact the community,” Miller said.
Comfort Now has been named the “Best Contractor to Work for” by The ACHR NEWS and has appeared on the INC 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list three times.
Company: Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC)
Title: Operations and Compliance Manager
Danielle Myers is the operations and compliance manager for Thermostat Recycling Corp., which is the largest recycler of mercury-containing thermostats in the United States.
“My passion for environmental sustainability worked well with TRC’s mission, and I grew to learn the HVAC industry’s ins and outs while being one step removed,” Myers said. “My different positions within TRC have allowed me to work with all levels of the industry including manufacturers, distributors, and contractors, while assisting with the regulatory concerns of the sector.”
At TRC, Myers has three tasks. Her first task is to continue directing TRC’s collection efforts. She is the day-to-day catalyst in ensuring that TRC’s momentum continues. In short, it is her responsibility to ensure that the mechanism of collections continues successfully and unimpeded.
Her second task is industry intelligence. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the 48 states in which TRC operates, and she makes sure that any changes or requests (often from state recycling bodies or green-oriented organizations) are considered.
Thirdly, she has a marketing and public relations function. The goal is simple but not simplistic. She has raised awareness both in and outside the industry to demonstrate that the industry is a steward of the environment by aggressively, consistently, and safely removing mercury-containing thermostats.
“I have gained great respect for the individuals that make this industry the game-changer it is. The HVAC industry can have such a positive effect on our environment for future generations, and I am proud to be a part of this industry,” Myers said.
Company: JB Warranties Corp.
Title: Vice President
Jenna Ochoa is vice president of JB Warranties Corp., an extended warranty provider to the HVAC and plumbing industries. In this role, she oversees compliance in all 50 states and is charged with ensuring that all contractors who file a claim with JB Warranties are reimbursed in a timely manner and that all the accounting is performed accurately, in compliance with state and federal regulations.
Ochoa started in this industry as a part-time claims adjuster in 2012 while attending Texas A&M University full time. She would spend her off hours between classes on the phone with contractors all over the country, collecting paperwork and taking incoming calls around the clock. During her time in the HVAC industry, she has served as a claims adjuster, a claims department manager, and now as vice president, managing millions of dollars per year.
“My grandfather, dad, uncles, and husband are all in the industry. I remember growing up my dad would take us to jobsites to watch helicopters place the RTUs he had sold. My dad has served as such a role model creating relationships and building trust in the industry,” Ochoa said.
The team she manages has a great reputation in the industry.
“My career goal is to continue growing our reputation as the industry leader in HVAC warranties and to continue to be a reliable resource helping contractors grow their businesses,” Ochoa said.
Company: Air Pros USA
Title: Founder and President
Anthony Perera founded Air Pros USA, a residential and commercial air conditioning service company based in Davie, Florida, in 2017 with a single truck and two people. In just three years, he grew the business to more than 200 trucks, 250 employees, and 600,000 customers across 10 service locations.
“Since launching Air Pros USA in 2017, my goal has been to become the largest and most revered HVAC contractor in the country. I want to have an office or a regional location within one hour of every major city in the U.S. in the next five years,” Perera said.
Perera has acquired 11 businesses across Texas, Colorado, Washington, and Florida within the last 12 months. Through internal growth and acquisitions, the company has achieved a $50 million run rate.
“My father has spent decades in the air conditioning field as an a/c technician. In 2017, when I was looking to invest in a new business, the HVAC industry became a clear choice, as my father knew the business and the industry and I knew how to market it. He helped me first set up Air Pros USA in my garage with one truck and two people,” Perera said.
Most recently, Air Pros USA has announced its national franchise program to share its successful business model and pioneering techniques with qualified businesses nationwide. As part of this program, Perera and his leadership team will coach other HVAC business owners with a proven system of lead generation and customer acquisition techniques to help them grow their business.
Company: Absolute AirFlow Plumbing, Heating, and Air
HVAC contractor Victor Rancour is blazing his own trail in the HVAC industry. He entered the industry only five years ago when a friend referred him to Service Champions.
“It is one of the best-run organizations in the country,” Rancour said. “They trained me from literally knowing zero about HVAC to being awarded Success Group Top Selling Tech in the country within 16 months.”
Rancour moved on to the company Home Comfort, where he was the service and sales manager. There he learned the ins and outs of running a large home service company. Like many before him, Rancour eventually had enough of working for someone else, and Absolute Airflow was born in August 2018. The business scaled from scratch to $5 million in the first calendar year. It now has 50 full-time employees and is one of the highest rated HVAC companies in Southern California.
“My HVAC career goals are to continue the growth of Absolute Airflow as the premier home service company in the country. Over the next couple years, I plan on growing throughout the Southwest and expanding my footprint in Southern California,” Rancour said.
He recently opened a second location in Ventura, California.
Rancour also recently helped start the Service Hero marketing company. He will soon be launching a home service podcast.
“My biggest goal is by the time I’m old enough to not make this list anymore, I plan on riding off into the sunset and enjoying my time with my wife and three kids,” Rancour said.
Company: H&M Services Plumbing, Heating and Cooling
Title: HVAC Operations Manager
From humble HVAC beginnings, Brent Ridley has made a name for himself in the industry. Ridley is the HVAC operations manager with H&M Services Plumbing, Heating and Cooling while also being the owner of Tool Pros Production and a podcast host.
“I stumbled across my destined HVAC career shortly after graduating, when my high school girlfriend’s father offered me a helper — grunt — position with his company the summer after senior year. Been at it ever since,” Ridley said.
Brent has been an active member of the HVAC trade for almost two decades. He successfully helped create the HVAC division at H&M.
His integrity and opinion are held in such high regard that tool companies like Fieldpiece and Northpark have called on him to beta-test their products. Brent engages the masses through podcasts, spreading the good word about working in the trades. He hosts the Tool Pros podcast, where he discusses news, applications, and more as it pertains to the tool world.
“My career goals are to educate my fellow HVAC community with the latest tool innovations that the industry has to offer via social media and podcast outlets while continuing to provide exemplary service to all H&M customers and community members,” he said.
Company: Reliable Heating & Air
Title: Director of Marketing and Call Centers
Lea Anne Roberts enjoyed working with Reliable Heating & Air so much as a client, she decided to go and work there.
In 2007, she was working for Kudzu.com. It was a place for homeowners to find recommended home service companies. She spent the majority of her time on the road, trying to sign up as many home service companies as she could to the website.
“I worked with many locally owned heating and cooling companies in Georgia, big and small. From there I went to a digital marketing agency that helped small business owners manage their entire digital marketing strategy, and again, my client base was always focused on home services,” Roberts said. “My favorite client was always Reliable Heating & Air because they wanted to grow. The owner understood how a diverse marketing strategy yielded demand and he wasn’t afraid to embrace new technologies … even when he didn’t completely understand them.”
In 2016, she joined the team full-time as the director of marketing and call centers. During her time with the company, she has spearheaded their call center transition from order taking to a proactive sales focused team. She also introduced a new concept for homeowners when buying HVAC, water heaters, and generators that has changed the status quo seasonality of the industry.
“My goal is to keep advancing within the industry. My background is digital marketing and sales, but expanding into operations has been one of the most rewarding career experiences,” Roberts said.
Company: Williams Stoker & Heating Co.
Title: Vice President
Kevin Schaefer came from the real estate world, previously working as an asset manager in the affordable housing sector, managing a portfolio of over 1,000 units throughout Chicago. While working in the affordable housing sector, he worked with the gas and utility providers on energy efficiency programs to save the portfolio 10 percent annually on utilities.
When Schaefer came to Williams Stoker & Heating Co. as a third-generation employee, he was able to leverage his contacts with the gas program to bring in over $1 million in rebates and new business in the last calendar year increasing company revenue by 25 percent. He has rebranded the company and pushed things into the 21st century by creating a new logo, truck design, and uniform as well as implementing new field service management software to integrate the office and field better.
“I want to maintain the family culture that I have striven to cultivate and strengthen ever since joining the company,” he said. ‘People over profits’ is a cliché term. I believe growing people grows profits, and that allows us to provide upward mobility and additional job opportunities for apprentices and technicians. This allows us to keep our technician wages above the industry average, and in turn, we have less turnover and fewer warranty callbacks.”
One of his biggest accomplishments was revamping team compensation to raise average pay 20 percent without incentivizing sales by focusing on the appropriate solution the first time. This has increased the work order volume and increased profits overall, even though the company’s costs have risen and rates have not been increased.
Company: HVACR Tech Solutions
Title: Service Technician
Chris Stephens grew up working in his father’s HVAC company — HVACR Tech Solutions.
“I would work the summers and any day off I had from school. I officially started working for him in 2002, and 18 years later, we run the company together,” Stephens said.
In 2017, he started filming service calls to show the employees how to handle difficult calls. Little did Stephens know a lot of people would soon be watching these videos.
After some debate, he nervously hit the “public” button to publish the videos, and his YouTube channel HVACR Videos was born. It has grown bigger than he ever expected.
“The goal of the channel is to share the little bit of knowledge I have with other service technicians in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes that I have made over my career. And trust me, there are so many mistakes. I have content for a very long time,” Stephens said.
His YouTube page has over 73,000 subscribers, and Stephens has uploaded around 350 videos. One video on a walk-in freezer call received over 425,000 views.
“In my videos, I am always trying to drive the point into people’s heads that we need to take a step back and look at the big picture and try and solve the actual problem instead of just the symptoms. I am thankful every day that I get to share the little bit of knowledge I have with other service technicians,” Stephens said. “I really enjoy this trade and love the fact that I still am able to run service calls every day.”
Company: BWS Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning.
Title: Vice President
BWS Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning was recently named to INC’s 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list. BWS vice president Kevin Strandberg played a big part in the impressive growth of the company.
His HVAC career started in 2014 when his father Bruce was looking to hire a salesperson for BWS.
“At that time, I was looking to make a move from a business development role in a different industry. My dad and I had lunch to discuss the opportunity and made the decision to give joining the family business a try. We made sure we both went into it with open minds so that if it didn’t work out — as working with family can be a challenge — there wouldn’t be any hard feelings. And seven years later, we are still going strong,” Strandberg said.
However, it is not just profits that motivates this business. Strandberg said one of his biggest HVAC accomplishments is giving back to the community. This is done by giving multiple furnaces, air conditioners, and IAQ products to families facing troubled times that are in need of a helping hand. This is more important to Strandberg than selling a residential replacement job to maintain gross profit.
“As a third generation in the industry and second generation in this family business, I know there are going to be challenges in taking BWS to another level,” Strandberg said. “My most important long term HVAC career goal would be to successfully continue to grow BWS through a generational succession transition.”
Company: AKF Group
Title: Partner, National Higher Education Practice Leader
Jason Sylvain has worked in the HVAC industry since 2003, acquiring his New York PE license in 2009. Since then, he has received licensing in many other states. Over the years, Sylvain has maintained certifications as a Certified Building Commissioning Professional and Existing Building Commissioning Professional. He is dedicated to expanding his knowledge, understanding, and expertise in design and attends conferences and workshops offered to stay relevant in the field.
Sylvain has been a project manager and team leader for over a decade. He prides himself on guiding and training young engineers new to the field. Sylvain has high expectations of his team and pushes them to take risks with new ideas.
Sylvain has developed a niche and passion for retrofitting modern technology (HVAC, electrical, IT, lighting, fire protection, etc.) into historical buildings. His ability to think outside of the box and problem solve has led to award-winning designs at top universities in the Northeast, perhaps most notably Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library Nave Restoration.
Sylvain works throughout the nation, guiding higher education institutions as they embark on new construction projects. He is sought for his creativity and problem-solving skills by prominent clients in this field.
“I have a passion for bringing modern HVAC systems into historical and architecturally important buildings. My career goals are to continue doing that work while maintaining the integrity of beautiful classic architecture,” Sylvain said.
Company: Alco Air
Title: General Manager
Justin Tramel, second-generation at Alco Air, started at the company as a technician right out of high school while he was attending junior college. He worked in every aspect of the business over the years and now holds the position of general manager.
“Getting into the business was the best decision I ever made,” Tramel said.
During his time in a leadership position at the company, Tramel has helped launch a successful plumbing division and also oversaw a business relocation plan. Rather than going to a business park, he chose a high-traffic, retail-situated location. Soon after the company moved in, a major roadway interchange was completed at the corner. That decision really drove the company brand into the marketplace, and with the magnified visibility started sharp revenue growth.
During his time with the company, Tramel has made training a priority for everyone, with a specific focus on customer-centric skill sets. He also updated and sharpened systems and processes. The business model got much more efficient.
“My goal is to keep growing the company,” Tramel said. “We want to continue to be a company that is customer- and employee-focused. I hope to build a legacy that will last years beyond myself. I am most proud of growing a team of individuals that care about customers and the craftsmanship they put into each job, growing the business through best practices.”
Company: Parks Heating and Cooling Inc.
When Wyatt Tucker was in high school, his father bought Parks Heating and Cooling. Soon, Tucker began washing trucks at the company and working on a construction crew in the summers. Fast forward a few years, and he is now the president of the company after purchasing the company in 2018.
He has lofty goals of sustaining growth so the company can donate up to six figures annually to homeless and orphaned kids in their market. He also wants the company to reach $40 million in sales by the time he turns 40.
Parks is still working toward that vision, but that hasn’t stopped Tucker from already making a difference in the community. With the work of his tactical team and employees, Parks was able to provide an exciting Christmas to women and children who otherwise would not have a Christmas.
Tucker’s leadership has created a new and exciting culture — he has generated numerous new jobs, and Parks has seen double-digit growth and profit. Tucker has developed an exciting new purpose and vision, one that clearly aligns with who he is as a leader and his leadership team. This change allowed every employee of the organization the opportunity to clearly understand how they can contribute to executing the vision and purpose of Parks.
Under his watch, the company has expanded with a purchase of a second location and now employs over 100 people.
Title: Vice President – Sales & Marketing
Jeff Underwood is vice president of sales and marketing for RectorSeal, a manufacturer and distributor of HVACR, plumbing, and electrical products. Fascinated by the complexity and the honesty of the industry, Underwood joined the HVAC community in 2011 and assumed several positions at Goodman Manufacturing, including Daikin brand manager, director of brand management, and vice president of marketing.
Since joining RectorSeal, Underwood has pushed to establish more holistic product solutions, from condensate management to ductless accessories. He has also pushed to reinvigorate the pace of new product innovation, including launching new products such as push-to-connect refrigerant fittings and surge protection devices.
“We find our purpose in helping contractors to be more productive and successful through meaningful innovations. We genuinely enjoy seeing contractors do their jobs better, faster, safer, and more reliably,” Underwood said.
Based on a desire to help contractors learn on their own time, Underwood helped RectorSeal launch comprehensive on-demand training that is free to groups of HVAC service technicians as well as distributor staff. Utilizing NATE-certified staff, the online training capabilities makes the manufacturer not only a product provider but now an educator in the industry.
Long term, Underwood is pushing to help drive ease of doing business by having RectorSeal fully digitize the sales support process from the availability of product information to the support processes for ordering. Underwood and his team thrive on delivering data, meeting distributors’ and contractors’ needs at their convenience.
Company: Stephenville Heat & Air
Title: Service Manager
David Walker began his career at age 19 as a helper in his father’s company, Stephenville Heating and Air. Walker got his Texas state air conditioning license within five years and now is the service manager for the company.
“My dad started the company with a focus on being profitable while offering great customer service, but as I began to run the day-to-day operations, I made it my goal to offer excellent customer service first and foremost. I’ve found that the company’s profits fall in line with a customer-focused business model,” Walker said.
Since he has been more involved in the management at the company, Walker has made it a point to create a family atmosphere where all of the employees feel a sense of ownership. This philosophy makes sure that everyone buys into the philosophy to do things to the best of their abilities without compromise.
“I’ve seen that giving my employees the autonomy to make the best decisions on behalf of the company without micromanaging their every action keeps morale high, and work gets done far more efficiently than if I have to make every minor decision throughout the day,” Walker said. “In the end, the less I’m involved in the small tasks throughout the day, the better my employees perform, and they take more pride and ownership in their jobs and their work.”
Walker and his company have a robust social media following. He uses Instagram to post job photos and takes advantage of other quality contractors around the country to offer critiques and exchange ideas.
Company: Yarbrough & Sons Heat and Air
As the chief financial officer of Yarbrough and Sons Heat and Air, Tucker Yarbrough has overseen impressive growth at this Oklahoma HVAC contracting business. The company has averaged 35 percent growth each of the last two years.
“We hope to continue that growth. We have our sights set on having multiple locations that serve Oklahoma at large. One day I hope to give back to contractors just as my mentors, John and Vickie LaPlant, have given back to me,” Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough’s father, Darren, started the business in 1988. While he never felt pressured to get into HVAC, he followed his father into the family business.
During his first year as CFO, they realized the company was losing money.
“We had been stagnant at $4.5 million in revenue for eight years or so, and were relying too heavily on our existing customer base. As an ownership team, we realized we needed to make changes — and fast,” Yarbrough said.
After assessing the holes in the ship, correcting the pricing structure, and shifting their focus to acquire new customers, the company achieved 45 percent growth in 2019 and is on pace for 30 percent growth in 2020, while maintaining no less than a 12 percent net profit.
It has gone from a $4.5 million company that fought to make money to a $7 million company that averages a 10-12 percent net profit month over month.
“Mom and Dad laid a wonderful foundation; now my brothers and I have the privilege of partnering with them to build upon that foundation,” Yarbrough said.
Company: Intricate Tech Solutions
At age 24, Chris Zamajtys has established a lofty goal for himself. He wants to build the largest HVAC company in the tristate area.
It would be tough to bet against him, as Zamajtys has already accomplished a lot in the HVAC industry. He got involved in HVAC by attending a trade school while in high school. He excelled quickly and was nominated to represent his county in the statewide HVAC competition, where he placed first. That was followed by the national SkillsUSA competition, where he took second place and was nominated to represent the U.S. in the World Skills competition in Dubai. He took fifth place in the competition.
“There we were put to the test on brazing, bending, troubleshooting, electrical, refrigeration, and engineering skills, and I finished off in the top six against the world,” Zamajtys said. “While away competing, I was running my own company back at home in New York.”
While the New York HVAC market is very competitive, Zamajtys is more than holding his own. He started his business when he was only 20, but has grown it to a multimillion dollar company with 10 employees and five trucks.
“And we are still growing,” Zamajtys said. “We are one of the largest ductless installers on Long Island.”
Company: Johnstone Supply in New York and Connecticut
Title: Director of Sales and Product Management
Andrew Zitofsky joined the HVAC industry with a job at Johnstone Supply in New York. It was a second career, and Zitofsky had little to no knowledge of the products or services they offered. He cut his teeth working in an inside sales role, which enabled him to quickly learn the needs of HVAC contractors — not only the products but also the level of service they require to meet the urgent demands of the industry.
Within just a few short years, Zitofsky was promoted to the role of director of product management, and even in a less customer-facing role, he looked at every decision through the eyes of the customer, doing his part to maintain the core value of a focus on sales and customer service. A few years into this role, he was given the additional responsibility as the director of sales, leading both the inside and outside sales teams. Even though he had no direct experience working as a territory manager, Zitofsky quickly became an invaluable resource for the team. His natural sales inclination and strong desire to provide the highest level of customer service has enabled the company to expand and improve the sales team, both inside and out.
“As someone who began working in the HVACR wholesale world without any knowledge, I’m grateful for every team member who has been willing to take their time to share their knowledge. As I’ve progressed through my career, it’s become a goal and passion of mine to pay it forward and share what I’ve learned. One of my goals is to both learn and share something new every day,” Zitofsky said.