BUFORD, Georgia — Ron Smith has touched thousands of people in the HVAC industry, ignited successful business strategies for struggling contractors, launched and sold innovative enterprises, and according to one contractor testimonial, “he transformed my life.” The simplest of concepts such as a retail salesperson, which contractors now take for granted, was introduced by Smith. On March 29, 2022, approximately 40 industry leaders, friends, and family joined to honor his accomplishments and contributions. Six signatories proclaimed that Ron Smith shall hereafter be known as The Father of Modern Contracting Business Practices, and Matt Michel, President of Service Nation Alliance presented the proclamation to Smith. Other signatories included: The ACHR NEWS, Southern PHC, HVACR Business magazine, HARDI, AHRI, ACCA, and Contracting Business magazine.
From writing articles and books dedicated to the industry to creating the first residential service agreement, Smith is recognized as being one of the first contractors (Modern Air Conditioning, Ft. Myers, Florida) to focus on residential service and replacement as a profit center. He dedicated his career to first mastering everything before he taught it to fellow contractors. Rick Busby of Busby Heating and Air Conditioning, Augusta, Georgia first met Smith in 1990.
“I attended Ron’s Dominant Market Share program. We became friends as we worked on my business, and we’ve been friends ever since. He absolutely transformed my life," remarked Busby.
Other contractors in attendance included: Timothy Hanlon, West Virginia; Jim Batson, Huntsville, Alabama; and Alana Ward, Clarksville, Tennessee. All spoke admiringly of Smith’s influence in not only their own lives, but of his scope within the industry.
Throughout his HVAC business career, starting in 1961, Ron Smith has enjoyed starting new ventures, developing and applying new creative ideas, freely sharing information, and introducing enthusiastic and bright people to the industry. Many of his operational systems and processes, and marketing and sales programs are in wide use throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
A true entrepreneur, in 1965 he founded Modern Air Conditioning Inc. in Ft. Myers, Florida with a borrowed $500, no customers and no coworkers, and built it into one of the premier and most recognized and respected firms in the U.S. with $15 million in annual revenues (that translates to $40 million to $45 million in annual revenues in today’s HVAC industry) before selling it in 1986. Later he purchased, significantly grew, and then sold three similar air conditioning and heating companies in the Louisiana and Florida markets.
In 1985 he founded Service America, based in Atlanta, the first national HVAC franchiser. In less than four years the firm had over 100 franchisees. It was later sold to a Swiss public company, purchased back from them two years later, and sold the second time in 1991 to Roto-Rooter.
Ron Smith & Associates (RS&A), an HVAC exclusive training and consulting company based in Roswell, Georgia, was founded in 1991. RS&A, with its focus on operations, systems, processes, and disciplines soon was one of the industry’s leading training and consulting firms. Smith developed and then over the next several years personally presented his Dominant Market Share yearlong training program to over 70 distributor groups with well over 1,900 contractor attendees. He sold the company in 1997.
In 1997 he joined Service Experts in Brentwood, Tennessee, an HVAC consolidator and public company, as chief operating officer and served in that position until after the company was sold to Lennox Industries. When it sold in early 2000 it had 116 locations across the U.S after making more than 200 acquisitions, and with annual revenues of over $600 million.
Smith founded, co-founded, owned, had, or currently has an ownership in twenty-four businesses.
In 2017 at the Annual Service World Expo event Mike Murphy, publisher of the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS announced that henceforth, The ACHR NEWS will present the Ron Smith Leadership Award to a person in the industry who has given of themselves in outstanding fashion for others in the HVAC industry.
Though his innovations, cutting edge practices, and unselfish willingness to share ways contractors can improve their business practices, Smith left a mark on the HVAC industry.
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