Boss Facility Services, a provider of HVAC and other services for commercial clients, marked its 20th year in business earlier this year. Robert Keingstein, father of Boss founder Keith Keingstein, wasn’t around to see it, having passed away in June 2020. Keith and his siblings are carrying on the family legacy at the Hauppauge, New York, company.
Robert Keingstein started in the HVAC business at the age of 17 and started his first firm at 23, so when his son Keith Keingstein started Boss in 2021, Robert Keingstein was excited and wanted to join him. So did sister Kerri and brother Kevin. In addition to HVAC maintenance, Boss provides a range of other services, including security and janitorial. Keith Keingstein describes it as anything to do with the interior of a building.
LEGACY: HVAC veteran Robert Keingstein, left, attends an event with his children (from left) Kerri, Kevin, and Keith. Robert Keingstein died last year, but his dedication to service and family lives on.
Today, given the COVID climate, clients are mainly concerned with ensuring a healthy work environment for a building’s occupants. That means more of a focus on IAQ for the HVAC division and more cleaning for the janitorial staff. All the while, customers are paying attention to the bottom line because revenues are down.
“They all want to see how they can best apply dollars,” Keith Keingstein said.
Weathering Storms Together
The pandemic is just the latest challenge in Boss’ two-decade history. The financial crisis of 2009 saw a number of the company’s customers go bankrupt. That led to keeping a closer eye on qualifying customers. One thing we implemented in 2009 was receivables insurance, Keith Keingstein said. As a result, there were fewer surprises during last year’s downturn. In addition, Boss now insures its receivables.
“In the last 20 years, we’ve had to weather quite a storm,” Keith Keingstein said.
Different clients want different levels of service. Some do the bare minimum of maintenance, while others want what Keith Keingstein calls “the Rolls Royce treatment.” Very few today ignore maintenance until equipment fails.
Customers change as the market evolves. The past year saw a lot of disruptions in retail, for example. But Keith Keingstein points out that stores remain crucial to most business plans. He uses the example of Peloton. The exercise equipment maker thrived last year, and much of that growth came from online sales. But they still kept their brick-and-mortar locations operating.
Keith Keingstein expects less disruption for his own business. He said large players have tried to enter the space but found it too labor-intensive.
“There’s so much difference in the types of equipment, the applications,” he said. “It’s not a quick 1-2-3 process.”
Limited Talent Pool Creates Challenge, Opportunity
One of the biggest challenges for Boss is getting building operators to buy into the concept of outsourcing their facility management, said Kevin Keingstein, Boss’ vice president. He sees increased demand, however, as the equipment becomes more sophisticated. This requires a level of technical skill beyond many in-house facility crews.
“As the demand goes up and the limited talent pool becomes more challenging, our worth as an industry goes up,” Kevin Keingstein said.
Finding technicians is a challenge for Boss as well. Technology eases some of this squeeze by making technicians more efficient. Keith Keingstein uses the example of being able to pull up videos when troubleshooting a job.
The third generation of Keingsteins are now in their 20th year and are now looking to focus on the next 20. Kerri Keingstein, the company’s president, said she sees Boss creating a model for staying current while maintaining valued traditions. She understands many people wonder how a family can work together without conflict.
“Everyone has a seat at the table, and we work through the good times and the bad and sometimes are forced to make some tough decisions,” Kerri Keingstein said.
She said this was especially true in the past year.
“The one thing I’m thankful for is my family digging their heels in when the going got tough,” Kerri Keingstein said.
Kevin Keingstein agrees. He said he wouldn’t trade working alongside his siblings for the world.
“Working along your siblings is a real blessing,” he said. “I see their drive and passion for the business on a daily basis, and it gets me excited to see what else is in store for this organization.”
Despite all the changes, Keith Keingstein said it still comes down to service. Boss has grown its offerings, but the company’s owners still make it a policy to not overpromise what they can deliver.
“But at the end of the day, if a client is calling in and he has no heat or no cooling, it’s how fast can you get here and resolve this problem,” Keith Keingstein said. “And we’re really good at resolving problems.”