A strong culture provides the key to success for an HVAC firm. That’s what more and more contractors are saying. Speakers at the recent Barefoot Roundtable event, hosted by Service Roundtable, shared ways to improve in a number of areas, from dealing with employees to dealing with spouses.

Dan Cherie, general manager of Quality Degree Heating and Air Conditioning in Royersford, Pennsylvania, was one of the first speakers at the event and shared the way an annual kickoff event helps build their company culture. A key component of this event is sharing how the firm is doing and where it is headed.

“If you don’t show them that information, they won’t have anything to work toward,” Cherie said.

Staff want to feel that they are contributing to the firm’s success and personally moving forward. Cherie said Quality Degree’s service manager created a well-defined training program that helps the firm’s employees reach their developmental goals. 

Gary Singleton, president of Max Mechanical Air Conditioning and Heating in Arlington, Texas, said he really realized the importance of goals for a business’ success after reading “The Four Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. One the key lessons of this book is to keep a compelling scoreboard. Today, Max Mechanical runs weekly contests among its employees to the keep them engaged.


Married to the Business and Each Other

Interacting with employees is one matter. Interacting with co-owners, especially when that co-owner is also a spouse, is a whole other matter. Kristen and Justin Deese, owners of Paradise Home Services in Pensacola, Florida, spoke on the best ways to navigate this situation. They are the authors of “When Your Business Partner is Your Spouse: How to Have a Successful Business and a Happy Marriage” and coach other couples on creating a successful marriage and business partnership.

Trouble started for the couple as their company grew. Justin Deese said he loves sales and they booked plenty of business. But Kristen Deese saw the cash flow problems and the issues growing with the employees. She talked about getting a “real” job outside their firm.

“You go broke chasing dollars,” Jesse Deese said.

Justin Deese realized he wasn’t any better off. He started to resent his own business. The couple decided to take action to make their lives, much less their business, more manageable. They networked more. They read books, such as “The E Myth” by Michael E. Gerber. They finally hired a business coach.

The coach assigned them exercises, many of which at first seemed unrelated to running a business. For example, the Deeses were instructed to write their own eulogies. What these exercises did was open their eyes to what the business was beyond its day-to-day operations.

“Let it be as asset that you own, not something that owns you,” Justin Deese said.

The Deeses worked on their communication. They also created clearly defined roles for themselves. There were still challenges. They described one argument when Justin wanted Kristen to look at a business proposal that excited him while she was in the middle of handling immediate tasks.

“It took a while to where we could call each other out when we crossed a line without getting defensive about it,” Kristen Deese said.

Today, they help other couples dealing with similar issues. A spouse doesn’t need to work at the HVAC firm to be invested in the business, Kristen Deese said. That’s why communication proves so important.

It’s important at all levels when it comes to creating a successful company culture. And a successful company culture is important to creating a successful company. That’s the lesson shared by several contractors at the Barefoot Roundtable.