Tom Gabrilson (left) is joined by brothers Bob and Greg. Behind them is the 1946 Ford truck they use in parades and at shows.
It all started in an Iowa bar over 60 years ago. William "Burr" Gabrilson and another man decided the town of Davenport needed a heating contractor. The two formed a company - later bought out by Gabrilson - and the rest is history. Today, Gabrilson Indoor Comfort Solutions is one of the most recognizable names in the community and one of the top HVAC companies.

Thanks to its colorful yellow trucks and catchy advertising slogans, Gabrilson has remained at the top of the HVAC community dominated by union contractors and members of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 91 union. Employees answering the phone say "Yellow" instead of "Hello."

President Tom Gabrilson said that the largest contractors in town are all union contractors. He said there are about 125 HVAC contractors in the area but added, "The top 10 are doing 90 percent of the business."

He said the Davenport area "is to farm implements like Detroit is to automobiles" - thus, the large number of union workers.

Gabrilson is joined in the business by brothers Bob, who heads up the add/on replacement business and Greg, who is in charge of sales and special projects. Burr occasionally comes by the office to keep a hand in the business, too.

Tom Gabrilson said the HVAC market goes up and down in the Davenport area and that as of August 2005, his company was evenly divided between service/replacement and installation in the residential and commercial markets.

Gabrilson is a stickler when it comes to the appearances of his technicians. That's why he requires each one to come into the office every morning before heading out to the calls.

He wants to make sure each is well groomed and dressed appropriately. He requires his techs to wear yellow Gabrilson shirts and caps - and does not allow any imprinted shirts that carry any messages other than Gabrilson's.

"I can't afford to tick off customers," he said. "If a guy is wearing a Cubs t-shirt he might be entering the home of a Cardinal's fan."

Publication date: 09/12/2005