In May I wrote about some of the HVAC contractors I’d stumbled across who had really impressed me with their social media skills. Since then I’ve been virtually meeting more and more contractors who are pushing to the forefront of social media, so it’s time to hand out a few more paper plate awards. Check these guys out and see if they inspire you to dip a few more toes into the swirling waters of social media.

Mighty Micro-Blogger

The Mighty Micro-Blogger award goes to Deckard Mechanical of Fort Wayne, Ind., for its excellent micro-blog: (Tumblr is a newer blogging platform that is known for its ease of use and multimedia capabilities.)

I like reading Deckard’s blog because it’s short and sweet, so my attention doesn’t wander. Plus, they keep it interesting by varying their posts — including everything from photos of RTUs to how-to tips for consumers.

I found out that Deckard Mechanical is a young company — started just last year by owner Scot Deckard — so this blog is helping to establish its presence. According to office manager Jennifer Deckard, “We decided to start blogging because there were topics or advice that needed more explanation than we could fit in 140 characters. We have a Facebook page, and we have Twitter, but we didn’t feel like we could go into depth on things that we thought our customers would like to know.”

Video Maven

When it comes to YouTube, Champion AC of San Antonio is a cut above the rest. Their YouTube channel boasts 35 videos, earning them the Video Maven award. I was impressed by Champion AC’s videos because of their professional quality, and it all started to make sense when I learned that their social media director, Dale Blasingame, is a former TV news producer.

According to Blasingame, Champion has made YouTube a priority, and one of their videos even went viral last month, racking up 1,000 views in about 48 hours. Co-owners Tony Martinez and Ben Hubbert have each starred in the videos, along with other company employees. “The a/c business isn’t necessarily sexy to talk about, so coming up with interesting subtopics or other aspects of the business (efficiency, green, solar, etc.) that have some mass appeal is always top of mind,” Blasingame said.

While Champion’s videos generally cover topics like air ducts and programmable thermostats, one of their most intriguing videos is an interview with Hubbert that aired on a local TV station. As a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, he shared his insight and reaction to the Osama bin Laden capture and killing of the terrorist. Check it out at

Ahead of the Curve

Last but certainly not least, Northeast Cooling of Mundelein, Ill., is the winner of the Ahead of the Curve award. Owner Mitch Byrne is an early adopter of just about every type of social media. Sure, he’s got his bases covered on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. But do you know what Foursquare is? Have you ever heard of Hashable? Or Quora? Byrne has not only heard of social platforms that you may not even be aware exist, he’s already established himself on them.

For example, he recently set up Google Latitude, a mobile app that tracks the movements of one of his trucks. “It’s done through my phone. The idea is to save gas, time, and money for my customers and my business. People can save by calling for service when I’m in the area. A map is on the first page of our website and refreshes all day,” Byrne explained. While he hasn’t had a response to it yet, it’s just one more social media venture he is willing to experiment with.

Byrne’s strategy for social media is simple: “Engage the local community, provide helpful relevant content, and support local business (especially potential clients by retweeting their specials, liking their Facebook posts, etc.). Also, try not to spam your agenda all day long.” He added that 5 to 10 percent of his business is a direct result of a connection made through social media.

While Byrne admitted that it can be hard to keep up with all the social media day to day, he said the best part is all the new business and new friends. He added, “I think SEO, blogging, and Twitter have been the most useful for my business so far.” You can find him under the handle of @refrigeration on Twitter, where he has almost 16,000 tweets to his name, and over 2,100 followers.

Publication date: 08/29/2011