Doyle James
In its first decade, Aire Serv®, a subsidiary of the Dwyer Group (Waco, Texas), was on a learning curve, adding franchisees and endeavoring to build a solid business foundation for the next generation of HVAC contractors. The company, which has 85 locations worldwide, has a new man at the helm.

Doyle James began his career with Aire Serv in 1997, eventually moving up to vice president of operations. He recently took over the position of chief operating officer, replacing Roger Goertz. Goertz decided to own and operate his own business after leading Aire Serv throughout its formative years.

“Doyle has done an outstanding job as an Aire Serv executive. He has earned the respect of his peers and the entire franchise network,” said Dina Dwyer-Owens, president and CEO of the Dwyer Group. “I know he will continue to do well in his new role, and the Aire Serv brand will continue to grow rapidly in the future.”

James has always been interested in the HVAC business, and he notes that it is quite different from another type of franchise business under the Dwyer umbrella — Mr. Rooter®.

“We learned early on that plumbing and HVAC were two different types of businesses,” James said. “Plumbing is a demand, reactive service that is very Yellow Pages driven. HVAC businesses can do well in the Yellow Pages, but it’s just not the same.

“There are not a lot of hot and cold months in most parts of the U.S. — just a lot of in-between temperatures. So we’ve had to create a demand for our Aire Serv businesses, making them unique.”

James said that two things distinguish Aire Serv: the ability for franchise owners to sell their businesses, and the fact that people now compete for territories, which didn’t happen when James first started with Aire Serv. The latter has been “the ultimate change,” according to James.

“I’ve heard people say that franchising would never work in the heating and cooling industry,” he said. “But now people see franchising as a good business model for our trade.

“We have been fortunate to be a part of a bigger group [Dwyer], which has helped us through our growing pains. Now we are poised for growth, our systems are in place, and our franchises are solid and doing well.”

Pending Merger

In May of 2003, an announcement was made regarding the merger of the Dwyer Group, a publicly traded company, and the Riverside Group, a private equity firm. Upon completion of the merger (at a yet to be determined date), “Dwyer will become privately held by Riverside and certain other stockholders, including members of the Dwyer family and senior management of Dwyer,” according to the Dwyer Group.

How will the merger affect the growth plan of Aire Serv? “Riverside has a track record of growing companies a lot quicker than if they tried to grow on their own,” said James. “There will be a focus on growing the organization rather than making quarterly sales figures, which is typical of a public company. Our goal is to grow twice as fast as we have been growing.

“In the early years of Aire Serv, our businesses were often add-ons to existing businesses. Now we are becoming more of a ‘conversion’ business — converting an existing business into an Aire Serv franchise. Five years ago, our franchises averaged $125,000 in annual sales. Now we average around $750,000.

“People may look at our growth numbers and say that we haven’t grown much by number of franchises, but our growth has been primarily in sales rather than by adding companies.”

Gauging Interest

James said that the Dwyer Group always invites groups of people interested in buying a franchise down to Waco to tour the headquarters and learn more about the company. It isn’t just Aire Serv that people are interested in. It could be one of the other five Dwyer franchise corporations: Glass Doctor®, Mr. Appliance®, Mr. Electric®, Mr. Rooter (Drain Doctor® in the United Kingdom), and Rainbow International® Carpet Care and Restoration Specialist.

“We have one of the best and largest groups coming up in August — probably the biggest group in years,” he said. “We have as many as four to six groups a month come through. With all of the Dwyer Group prospective franchisees, there could be 20 to 30 people at one time.”

James said Aire Serv already has a lot of people signed up for orientation at the company’s October conference in Ponte Verde, Fla. Because of the location of the fall conference, Aire Serv is targeting territory opportunities in the Southeast.

Unlike other franchise companies, Aire Serv has no plans to have any “company-owned” businesses. “Our niche is to have independent locations,” James said.

“The growth that we have had in the past is just a starting point for where we will go in the future,” he said. “We have the infrastructure in place. We need to fill up the rest of our territories. We are in a solid financial position and we have good mentors and models, who our prospects can look up to. We’ve been sleeping quietly, and now it is time to get out in front of the HVAC industry as a strong competitor.

“It’s a great time to be an Aire Serv franchisee.”

For more information, call 800-583-2662 or visit

Publication date: 08/25/2003