Greg Zinsmeyer stands among the many pieces of equipment in his large sheet metal shop.

CASTROVILLE, TX — Greg Zinsmeyer was born and raised in this small town west of San Antonio. He likes where he is and he plans to stay put. He also likes the direction his company, A/C Technical Services, Inc., is heading in.

“The future looks very promising for our company,” he said. “This is the first year we put together a budget and we have also departmentalized.”

Zinsmeyer’s heritage is a blend of German and French, including ancestors who came from the Black Forest region. His own road to success has passed through several stages, but he is proud of the work that his 45-man crew does.

He also appreciates his customer mix. The company blends about 85% new commercial construction (including both design-build and hard bid) with 15% service (of which 70% is commercial and 30% is residential).

One of his best customers is also one of his biggest. HEB grocery stores is the largest grocery chain in central Texas, according to Zinsmeyer, and that company alone constitutes about 75% of A/C Technical’s grocery store business. Zinsmeyer has earned a lot of service and installation work from HEB — and he is now focusing on more service work from his other customers. “We want to grow more in our service department. There are typically better margins in service work.”

The contractor’s client base expands out in a 200-mile radius to include San Antonio, which affords many opportunities for new business.

Tight Labor Market

But he knows that capturing new business means having a staff of trained professionals to handle the increased workload; and right now the outlook isn’t good. “The employment situation is very grim,” Zinsmeyer said.

“The union is making a big push in San Antonio [for big projects], which takes employees away from other contractors. The union is offering more money to work on the big projects.”

Zinsmeyer said he believes his company is competitive when it comes to wages and training. “We give employees every imaginable benefit. Our techs have weekly tech sessions and participate in required training through our supply houses.

“We offer to send people through an apprenticeship school which is sponsored by the Assoc-iated Builders and Contractors [ABC]. I’ve put people through school and some have left the company. Now if they want schooling, I deduct it from their paychecks — and I just hope they stay.”

Zinsmeyer has listened to the advice of other contractors on matters of training and service through his membership in a network of contractors, which he calls a “big help.” With a large sheet metal shop, he is also looking to promote a fabricated metal business.

Although he would like to retire in five years or so, he isn’t quite sure. He has had offers to join consolidators, but he said selling to one of them “wouldn’t be good for me. [Independents] started their businesses so they could go out and hunt and fish when they wanted.”

In the meantime, Zinsmeyer adheres to a simple philosophy: “Make the most out of every dollar and go home happy.”

Publication date: 03/26/2001

Web date: 06/18/2001