Approximately 300 attendees came, representing many of the 265 plumbing, hvac, and electrical member companies from around the United States, Canada, and Australia. This year marks the 10th anniversary of C2000, and the group is using the occasion to redouble its efforts to make the profession of its independent service contractor members a little easier.
The group does that by providing numerous resources, including extensive help in the areas of sales, marketing, finance, operations, and human resources, to name a few. Schools, Peer Groups, and events such as this Super Meeting are offered, as well as a support staff and materials such as books, training manuals, and videotapes.
The group’s mission is to guide and develop independent service providers to be “simply the best” in customer service, profitability, and employee satisfaction.
C2000 is serious about its mission and has strict membership requirements. Candidates are prequalified to make sure they’re a good fit for the group. The contractor members who attended the Super Meeting had high praise for the work of C2000. In fact, one contractor from Colorado noted, “I get so much help from C2000 that it almost makes me feel sorry for my competition, because he’s not a member. My number of trucks is increasing, and his number of trucks is going down.”
CONCERNS WITH ECONOMYWhile almost all the contractors here were upbeat, many did express concern over the state of the economy. The one-two punch of Sept. 11th and a mild winter across most of the country has caused financial hardship for some contractors.
One contractor from Virginia noted that this year’s winter has definitely been difficult. “We’ve had to beat the bushes more than usual, but we ended up doing OK,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Easter, because things usually pick up then.”
Another contractor from Minnesota noted that even if a late winter storm hits in April, it won’t help business much. “At this point, people will sit tight until spring. Most won’t spend the money for new equipment that late in winter,” she said.
But the contractors were excited to be at the Super Meeting, as it gave them an opportunity to be “re-energized.” In fact, that word was used by a number of attendees, and it’s one of the many reasons why people should make the investment to join the group, says Greg Niemi, president of C2000.
“We all are going through a slowdown,” he said, “but it’s a testimony that those who are strong will get stronger. We provide a roadmap for a company to put itself in a better position and be able to meet its objective of being a preferred provider of residential services in their market area. People in that position will be in a stronger position during a downturn.”
Niemi became president of C2000 in February 2001, figuring that his 21 years of experience at Trane would serve him well in his new role. He noted that he learned a lot about the hvac world at Trane, specifically in the areas of marketing, finance, construction management, operations management, and service.
C2000 has 10 staff people at its headquarters in White Bear Lake, MN, dedicated to member services. The group has subject matter experts and industry area experts on staff who have expertise in the hvac and plumbing industries. Specifically, they can help with operations management, sales, marketing, finance, training, and purchasing.
“We wear lapel pins that say M1, which standards for ‘Members First.’ Under that it says, ‘practice what we teach.’ What we teach in our organization is how to excel in customer service. If we’re not practicing what we’re suggesting to others, that would be wrong for us. To that end, we’re there to answer all the member calls first and foremost,” said Niemi.
QUIET SUCCESS STORYNiemi would like to see the membership of C2000 double within the next five years, and he is confident that will happen. “Most people don’t know us. We are this quiet success that is blessed with testimonials that come from all our various programs and events and services we provide. It’s a huge secret,” he said.
While the group already has a large number of members in the hvac business, C2000 would like to see more hvac contractors join. “I know as soon as someone is interested in our organization, all they have to do is talk to our members, and they’ll sign up,” said Niemi.
Still, C2000 is selective. The group only wants people who will truly subscribe to its code of ethics. It also wants contractors with a commitment to solid business practices. Background checks are performed on all prospective members, including calling trade boards to verify a company’s standing, and checking with the Better Business Bureau and credit reporting services.
“For the most part, we’re looking for people who are trying to take their businesses to ‘wow’ the homeowner. In this industry, as old as it is, it still has plenty of distance to go in its professional ser-vices and development cycle. All of us have fears of calling a contractor, and we’re all about removing that fear. It’s about developing the contractor to better serve the homeowner,” said Niemi.
And because C2000 is a select organization, there won’t be a member on every corner in your hometown. The group limits its number of Silver and Gold level members (the level at which extensive help and materials are made available) based upon a market area population of 300,000 per member. Membership will eventually be capped at around 500 members.
“We’re like a dedicated college to our members, and we’re here to help our members have a competitive advantage. They don’t want to reinvent the wheel, which is why they come to us,” said Niemi.
For more information on Contractors 2000, visit www.contractors2000.com (website) or call 651-426-2000.
Publication date: 04/15/2002