For their second-to-last mission, we challenged Aaron, Gustavo, and Chris to tune into the business side of HVAC and do some research on the critical but seldom seen operations that go into running and HVAC business. Through interviews with business owners and pulling from their own experiences in the field, our students shared insiders’ knowledge of the industry.

 

Aaron: It’s all Part of the Trade

Ron Schneider is a local heating and cooling guy that operates his own business. He has been working in the HVAC industry since high school where he started working with his uncle. His many years of experience gave me some great insight about what it takes to run a business.

Q1: How long does a typical job take? How many jobs can you get done in a week?

A: The most common jobs take between 4-8 hours, but they can also take up to several days. It all just depends if he is doing a new home install or out on a furnace and AC replacement. Since Ron will work mostly every Saturday he can get on average 8 different jobs done in a week.

 

Q2: Do you service residential or commercial HVAC systems, or both? If both, approximately what percentage of your jobs are residential? Commercial?

A: Ron services mainly residential systems and does plumbing and appliance repair as well. A very small percentage is commercial.

 

Q3: How often do you receive your supplies? Do you pick them up daily?

A: Ron will typically have the common supplies he uses the most stocked in his truck. Most of the time he will go look at a job and then pick up the parts he knows he will need. Occasionally he will find out there is a few more things he needs and will end up having to run multiple times to the supply house.

 

Q4: Describe the supply chain from which you source the supplies and materials you use for HVAC jobs. Do you have different sources for supplies used for residential and commercial jobs?

A: Ron typically orders his supplies as he needs it. If he needed some duct work, he would first figure out what size and lengths he needs and rights it down. Then he would go to a sheet metal shop and tell him what he needs. Then he will take it back and hang it all. Again, he occasionally will end up taking multiple trips in getting his supplies. This is just part of the trade!

 

Gustavo: An Inside Look

Mission #9 “Behind the Scenes” allowed me to have the great opportunity of interviewing a great HVACR business owner who for the past 15 years, has been servicing Killeen, TX. While on my week vacation to Killeen, I took advantage of the opportunity presented to me and had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Oscar Hernandez, who started his business by the name of “Mr. Polar Cooling & Heating Co” just over 15 years ago. Despite the busy work day that seemed to be at hand, as well as my unplanned visit, Mr. Hernandez answered every one of my questions with such a positive and loyal attitude. He displayed a great sense of humor and made it clear to us that “no question was a dumb question.” As a successful business owner, Mr. Hernandez made sure to emphasize to us how having a positive, loyal and respectful mentality at all times, was the key to winning any customer’s heart. Thanks to Mr. Hernandez I was able to acquire and gain much needed business insight.

Q1: How long does a typical job take? How many jobs can you get done in a week?

A: A typical HVAC job, or better known as a “service call” can take anywhere between 15minutes and 30 minutes. A bad case scenario can cause any service HVAC technician anywhere between a few hours to half of his work day. According to Mr. Hernandez even the most experienced HVAC technician can have a bad day where one job might take most of his work day from him. Mr. Hernandez employs 6 HVAC technicians that handle both residential and light commercial service calls. Each technician averages about 4 to 7 calls a day on summer weeks, so about an average of 36 to 40 service calls a week are handled.

 

Q2: Do you service residential or commercial HVAC systems, or both? If both approximately what percentage of your jobs are residential? And commercial?

A: Mr. Polar Cooling & Heating company services residential and light commercial HVACR systems. Mr. Hernandez wanted to make sure he offered both of those services to his customers, therefore only employing technicians with enough experience in those systems in order to make sure that every job is being attended by great knowledgeable and experienced technicians. He believes that averages about 60 percent light commercial jobs and 40 percent residential. Mr. Polar Cooling & Heating company keeps busy by servicing all of Killeen, TX and its surrounding towns.

 

Q3: How often do you receive your supplies? Do you pick them up daily?

A: Mr. Hernandez has a few methods of making sure he has enough supplies and tools necessary for the demands of the business.  He uses an “accountability supply spreadsheet program” to help him identify the supplies that need to be replaced due to usage or depletion. Once items have been identified by his office employees, they place the order(s) to their 3 HVAC supply distributors who most of the time can make sure the items get delivered to them that same day. Only on rare situations or cases does Mr. Hernandez drives to pick up needed supplies.

 

Q4: Describe the supply chain from which you source the supplies and materials you use for HVAC jobs. Do you have different sources for supplies used for residential and commercial jobs?

A: Mr. Hernandez relies on many great supply companies, but did point out that his top HVACR supply companies were “Baker Distributing Company” and “Gemaire Distributors “ due to the fact that they have been such reliable companies since the opening of his business. According to Mr. Hernandez, both of these HVAC supply distributors have offered reasonable prices on their items, and have always had most of his needed supplies in stock. Both of these supply companies focus on the sales and distribution of HVAC and refrigeration parts and supplies for residential and commercial applications. For most of his residential needs, he relies on “Germaire Distributors” and “Baker Distributing company“ for most of his light commercial jobs.

 

Chris: Maintaining the Supply Chain

Q1: How long does a typical job take?

A: A typical residential retrofit takes one day if duct work does not need major modifications. Rough-ins and new installs take longer, as there is much more labor involved in designing, building, and installing ductwork.

 

Q2: Do you service residential or commercial HVAC systems, or both? If both, approximately what percentage of your jobs are residential? Commercial?

A: Both. On the service side, we are about 50/50. We do more residential installs than commercial, probably 75/25.

 

Q3: How often do you receive your supplies? Do you pick them up daily?

A: All materials needed for residential retrofit are stocked at the shop, and ordered and picked up as needed. Equipment that is not already in stock is picked up the morning of the job or the day before. For very large commercial jobs, supplies are ordered about a week in advance so that adequate time is allowed to ensure that we have absolutely everything needed to complete the job.

 

Q4: Describe the supply chain from which you source the supplies and materials you use for HVAC jobs. Do you have different sources for supplies used for residential and commercial jobs?

A: We get our supplies from the HVAC supply house that’s closest to the shop. We are a Lennox dealer, so equipment ships to the shop from Lennox, but flex duct, takeoffs, lineset, tapes, etc., all come from the local supply houses.