KENOSHA, WI — Jim Harry is enthusiastic about his business, AccuTemp Heating and Air Conditioning. He purchased this Kenosha-based commercial refrigeration service company over four years ago and last May moved the business from an obscure location in a nearby industrial park to a high traffic-volume corner in a residential neighborhood.

Last fall he sold his business to Reedy Industries, a Glenview, IL company which owns several contractors and distributors in the Midwest.

The 40-year-old company has taken on a new look, thanks to Harry’s efforts to delve into the residential service and replacement market. “It’s a good place to add cash flow,” he added.

Harry started as a “tinner” in a sheet metal shop but his career lasted only a few months. He didn’t like the work and went into an hvacr apprenticeship. “There is a night-and-day difference between the trades,” Harry said.

He now runs the business with his wife and seven other employees. The company can be found online at Harry has some positive things to say about how having a website affects his business.

“We established the website because it seemed like the next step to take in our business,” Harry added. “And because so many of our customers use the Web.”

Harry said a friend of his designed the basic website for a low fee — about $300 — as a way to get his feet wet as a webmaster and have a sample to show other prospects. Since then the website has grown and more features have been added. Harry is happy with the results.

“We did an installation job for the local International House of Pancakes because someone [in the company’s corporate office] pulled our name off the Web to do the local installation,” Harry said. “National companies have found us via the Web and have given us a foot in the door with local affiliate companies.”

Harry added that he welcomes suggestions and comments from residential customers because many are "Web savvy.” “One customer recommended that we put our certifications on the website,” he said.

“It seems that people who are shopping via the Web are informed buyers, not impulse buyers,” Harry added. “Web shoppers are not looking for the best price — they are looking for the best and most efficient equipment.”

Harry said that he is only averaging about one call a month for residential service via the AccuTemp site, but he is getting a lot of e-mails thanks to his Web presence.

“Being on the Web gives us credibility,” Harry concluded. “It shows that we have put money into building a good website.”

Publication date: 03/04/2002