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PHC News set out to look for the Top Contractors — plumbing, HVAC and mechanical — across the U.S., and what we found were some of the most dedicated, hard-working and inspirational people our industry has to offer.
We intended to feature 50 of the top contractors in this article. But what makes a contractor great? Success is defined not by size or revenue, but rather by the commitment of the company to its employees and customers, the quality of work it puts out, and its investment in safe practices, innovation and training, industry partnerships, and building relationships.
There are many roads to success, and the submissions that were received paved those roads with small- to mid- to large-sized contracting firms, minority- and women-owned businesses, in rural areas of the country, all the way to large, bustling cities.
We were truly impressed with all the submissions, but ultimately decided to highlight 20 contractors that showed a strong commitment to not only their employees, but also to their communities. Recognizing these two very important aspects of a successful business plan make these contractors our Top 20 for 2017.
Since 1993, All Area Plumbing (AAP), a division of ACCO Engineered Systems, has dedicated itself to designing and installing commercial and industrial systems throughout Southern California.
AAP’s services include new construction, renovations, tenant improvement and on-call service. “Large or small, our team of experienced staff is equipped to handle the job,” says Robert Felix, vice president.
The team of 180 employees is dedicated to nurturing long-term business relationships by providing clients with unparalleled service using state-of-the-art technologies and methods resulting in total customer service.
“We embrace modern technology, and continually train our staff accordingly,” Felix says. “We facilitate office staff training via seminars and classes through CPMCA, MCAA and other organizations, and in-office training sessions with a minimum goal of 65 hours per individual, per year,” Felix says.
Anticipating growth in all departments in 2017, AAP stays connected through numerous industry associations to keep in tune with the trends. “We attend tech trade shows throughout the year and invite vendors to our office to demo new products.”
The contractor aims to be recognized for its quality product and workmanship. “It’s reflected in all we do,” Felix says. “It's part of our culture. A big part of that is keeping our clients’ best interests paramount. If they succeed, so do we.”
All Area Plumbing
Founder and CEO, Roger A. Macaluso established Bluewater Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning using the $2,500 deposit from the firm’s first project, and has built it into a company that serves a wide range of clients, from single restaurateurs to some of the largest medical service providers in the world.
The contractor services all of New York City with more than 30 employees, out of its main location in Middle Village, New York “We feel our inner city location gives us a great pool of labor to tap, as well as close proximity to our projects," Macaluso says.
Built on a solid foundation, the company is dedicated to providing its customers with the highest level of customer service with practical solutions and efficient repair.
“We expanded our office with new servers, computers and staff,” Macaluso says. “We have sent members of our field staff to continuing education for our trade, and we expect to continue to expand as well as offer more training to our staff.”
Bluewater plans to grow by 100-150 percent in the next 3 years. Keeping pace with growth won’t be a challenge as the company is already focused on keeping pace with the industry.
“We have kept up with advancement with using 3D software, which allows us to identify issues that may occur on a project before it starts, saving an incredible amount of time and money,” Macaluso says.
Bluewater stays involved with industry associations, as a means to stay aware of changes to the industry and the changing needs of its clients, and it seems to have served the company well.
Bluewater Plumbing and Heating Inc.
Middle Village, New York
Burton & Sons Inc. is a customer-focused plumbing, heating and air-conditioning company that was originally started in 1979. The company specializes in designing, engineering and installing complete comfort systems for owners of existing homes and buildings.
We have been in business for 37 years, and our goal has been to provide the best customer service, and to retain these customers,” says owner Todd Burton. “We want the customer to know that we are there for them.”
Located in Garden City, Michigan, the contractor employs 17 highly trained people. Staying informed and trained is very important for the family-owned contractor. “As an owner, I attend every show that I can to keep up with what is out on the horizon. I also reach out to the product reps to come out and teach our people.”
The company takes tremendous pride in its staff and service and backs it with a guarantee of 100 percent satisfaction of not only the service and products, but the performance of the its people too.
“We wear distinctive uniforms. We wear shoe covers. A short biography of the arriving tech is sent to the customer along with a phone call when he is dispatched. Our menu pricing gives customers choices,” Burton says. “But the most important thing is that we are a family business serving families.”
Burton & Sons
Garden City, Michigan
In 1992, Comfort Control began as a basement operation with a singular vision – to build a heating and air company that provides superior products, service and customer satisfaction.
For the last 25 years, owner and General Manager Tom Kohberger has accomplished this goal, providing Georgia homeowners with reliable and trustworthy service backed by strong warranties and guaranties.
“We are a performance-based HVAC company specializing in system performance,” Kohberger says.
The small contractor employees 12 team members, all of which has gone through carbon monoxide testing and BTU output training, system performance and air-balancing training, duct-sizing and duct renovation training, indoor air quality training and menu-pricing training.
“Comfort Control heating and cooling is built on a foundation of quality and integrity. These principles are embodied in the basic understanding that we serve our customers best when we measure performance in every aspect of our business,” Kohberger says.
Aside from staying informed and trained in best practices, the contractor volunteers time and resources too. “We have participated in Habitat for Humanity where we donated a complete HVAC system, with the labor. We also sponsor an annual golf tournament for Amigos for Christ to help build water towers in Nicaragua,” Kohberger says.
The company has come a long way from working out of a basement. “We focus on giving every customer a wow experience with our unmatched perfect service call and by focusing on system performance,” Kohberger says.
Small Service Family Company
In 1985, Steve and Bonnie Cordia opened the doors to Cordia Plumbing Co. in St. Louis, Missouri, and the company has been going strong ever since.
“We have not had a slow day since,” says Stephen Cordia, president/owner.
In business for 33 years, the small service family company employees five plumbers, two apprentices, one master plumber, one laborer, one sewer and cable technician and two office employees.
The contractor stays involved with the industry trends, training and education through its work with the Missouri PHCC chapter. Additionally, the apprentices are enrolled in the apprenticeship program through the Plumbing Industry Council.
Cordia Plumbing was voted the best plumber in St. Louis in the November/December 2007 issue of St. Louis Home Magazine. It’s not just about achieving business success, although the company has certainly proven capable.
After Hurrican Katrina hit its neighboring city, Cordia Plumbing worked for a week in New Orleans with local churches and organizations.
“We took some plumbers and trucks and went to New Orleans to help rebuild,” Cordia says. “The people there were most gracious, and to see the city almost desolate and armored vehicles with army service personal protecting the abandoned property was an experience.”
When asked what sets the company apart, Cordia says, “Our employees are all dedicated to do the right thing, not necessarily the easiest; and to do the job at fair cost, to be clean and neat.”
Cordia Plumbing Co. Inc.
St. Louis, Missouri
Since 1967, Eanes Heating and Air Conditioning has been providing high-quality heating and cooling products and services across the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina. As a family-owned business, Eanes takes great pride in providing trusted advice and straight talk service on HVAC installation, repair and maintenance for both commercial and residential applications.
“With a commitment to service and integrity, the company is driven by a set of values that have contributed to its success,” says John Eanes, president.
With 51 employees based out of three locations, the contractor focuses mainly on residential repair and replacement. “We help customers with indoor air quality concerns,” Eanes says. “We have also done some commercial work for churches and non-profits.”
Earlier this year, the company opened its third location in Winston Salem and installed TVs that update in real-time data and statistics of the company’s performance. Technicians all work with tablets in the field. Keeping pace with technology and staying informed is important.
“We constantly send our technicians out to training and even have some in-house. We are always bringing in speakers too,” Eanes says.
Staying involved with the community also has its place. The contractor partners with the local Boys and Girls Club and the Alight Foundation. Alight is a local foundation that helps patients of families who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. “We have a pink van with their logo to support them and a blue van in support of the Boys and Girls Club,” Eanes says.
When asked what sets them apart, Eanes says, “We will do absolutely whatever it takes to make sure the customer is satisfied.”
Eanes Heating and Air
High Point, North Carolina
With roots dating back to 1978, Filan and Conner Plumbing serves residential and commercial clients throughout the entire South Jersey area, providing plumbing, HVAC and bathroom remodeling services.
“We have been in business for 40 years,” says Brian Connor, owner/partner. “And our goal is to exceed every customer’s expectations.”
In 1978, Dave Filan started Dave Filan Plumbing, focused on plumbing service and bathroom remodeling. In 2002, Brian Conner started Brian Conner Plumbing, intent on dominating residential new construction areas with skills and expertise. Filan and Connor joined forces in 2008, combining decades of expertise and leadership skills in their respective areas.
The small contractor and all of its 16 employees put an emphasis on quality, customer service, a positive experience and solutions for the 21st century.
“Our business plan consists of training our technicians on the latest technology in the plumbing and HVAC field,” Connor says. “We also do a training every week on topics that come up from the prior week.”
The contractor recently went completely paperless for all technicians, and hope to get the office paperless by the end of 2017. The technicians now all have smart devices that they can use to access job history, parts and appointments.
“Filan & Conner Plumbing is a highly regarded company in the industry. We focus on the values of customers and make sure we treat every customer with the upmost respect, 100 percent of the time,” Connor says.
Filan & Conner Plumbing
Berlin, New Jersey
Founded in 2006, Hunter Super Techs provides plumbing, heating and cooling services in four locations covering Oklahoma and Texas.
“We are a rapidly growing company with a clearly defined mission,” says owner Chris Hunter. “Keep customers comfortable, save them money, do it better than anyone else and honor God while doing it!”
The team of 36 includes techs that train more than 90 hours a year to learn about innovative heating and cooling products and service techniques. “All of our techs receive many hours of on and offsite training,” Hunter says.
In 2017, the contractor plans to build upon its foundation and launch plumbing and electrical services in other locations.
“Never stop learning and improving. That is the key,” Hunter says. “Being open to change and able to react quickly, share the vision with the team and most importantly, implementing the technology has been key for us.”
It’s not just about business; the company has deeps roots in community too. “Giving is one of our core values,” Hunter adds.
The contractor partners with its distributors to help during disasters. “After the Oklahoma tornadoes, our team helped in the clean-up efforts as well as donations to the relief efforts,” Hunter adds.
A commitment to team development is the cornerstone of this company. The three areas of development include: customer service/sales, technical ability and life skills. “We train on all three of these and have a culture of helping each other win,” Hunter says. “Most people don't know why they are in business, but we know. Our mission is clearly defined, and it is awesome to be able to work for much more than just profits.”
For more than 30 years, Jim Godbout Plumbing & Heating has been a plumbing and heating service provider in Southern Maine, with an emphasis on providing best products and service to its customers, while building strong communities.
“The company was built on relationships with customers, distributors, manufacturers and employees,” says owner Jim Godbout.
With 20 full-time employees, the contractor provides services for the entire coastline of Maine from York to Freeport.
Godbout is a past president PHCC of Maine and understands the value of staying informed and involved with industry trends. “We continually provide ongoing training for employees on emerging products in the HVAC field,” he says.
Staying informed about trends has allowed the contractor to earn the trust of its customers and remain successful after so many years.
“Our company loves challenges,” Godbout says. “We were one of the first companies in North America to install wall-hung gas boilers 15+ years ago, and still love being first to use new products today.”
The contractor’s current focus is on educating the youth to provide a sustainable future for everyone, by volunteering as a chairperson and curriculum director of a technical school building trade program.
“We really take care of our customers; it’s not about a short-term hit, but long-term relationships we can all build upon,” Godbout says.
Jim Godbout Plumbing & Heating
Founded in 1998 by Jon Sells, Jon’s Plumbing & Heating has grown from a small one-man shop to an award-winning company that has earned the recognition as an Armstong Comfort Team contractor.
Based out of Mount Vernon, Ohio, with only 20 employees, this multi-million dollar company is active in plumbing and heating new construction, service, replacement and remodeling.
“We have what we feel is the best team in our market and believe that they are a large part of our success,” says owner Jon Sells.
Every year, the contractor reinvests in the company through education, fleet updates and technology to make processes better and more streamlined.
As an earth-friendly contractor, many of the products the company offers meet or exceed government standards and energy star ratings.
“Our company philosophy is quality, not quantity,” Sells says. “We will always do whatever it takes to make our customers satisfied. Our guys all believe in quality work, even what is in the walls and in the attic. Most of our competitors have the opposite mindset. Being in a rural area, reputation is everything.”
Jon’s Plumbing & Heating Inc.
Mount Vernon, Ohio
Mattioni Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has served the residents of Chester County, Pennsylvania for more than 60 years. Founded in 1948 on the Mattioni family farm, today, a more modern headquarters is home to a garage that houses a fleet of service vehicles, and also to a premier bath showroom.
The company’s team of 33 includes 17 office staff members, 9 plumbing technicians and 7 HVAC technicians.
“We pride ourselves in our ability to provide our clients with a small family-style relationship while offering the response times and quality assurance of a larger corporation,” says CEO Anthony Mattioni.
The company is dedicated to training and continuous education. In addition, it gives back to the local community by offering paid plumbing and HVAC apprenticeship programs to young men and women interested in pursuing careers in the industries.
“It’s amazing to see young men and women realize their potential as future technicians through our programs,” Mattioni says.
The company is involved in community partnerships in other ways. Volunteering time, vehicles and services to causes ranging from Christmas parades and toy drives to mentorship programs for single mothers, are just a few ways. “Our company believes in giving back,” Mattioni says.
For the contractor, family and community are what set it apart. “Everything we do on a daily basis is dedicated to keeping families happy, comfortable and safe,” Mattioni says.
Mattioni Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Inc.
Founded in 1973 by Gary Meier, Meier Plumbing began as a young boy’s dream to start his own business. Over the next 20 years, he would focus mostly on commercial ground up and custom home plumbing projects. Now run by his two sons, Gabe and Granden, the company provides plumbing services for both new construction and service and repair.
“It has been tough creating a culture encompassing both types of plumbing, but we are blessed to say it’s working,” Gabe Meier says. “The reason we exist is to improve the lives of our team.”
For the last 18 years, Meier Plumbing has grown from a small ‘mom and pop’ plumbing company to a corporation of more than 35 team members.
In keeping with the tradition of growing, the contractor invests in its team by providing plumbing code classes every Monday night.
It's more than just growing the business; it’s about making an impact, too.
“Every year, we team up with a local contractor to help build or remodel a house for someone who suffers from ALS,” Gabe Meier says. “We also for the last three years have been teaming up with City Impact, helping the homeless in San Francisco. Several members of our team volunteer and travel up there to help out.”
Meier Plumbing is looking to the future with hopes of keeping the momentum going.
“Every member on the team wants to see the other team member succeed, and our customers see that. We truly believe that we are the coupling joining excellent service with excellent customers,” Gabe Meier says.
Pride in Community and Staff
Founded by Gordy Noe with a two-man crew and a single truck, Pioneer Heating & Air Conditioning has been a prominent part of the Knoxville community, providing HVAC services since 1981.
In 1992, Pioneer moved into its current location and is now undergoing a second building expansion. Today, Pioneer has 47 employees and more than 40 trucks, and most of the staff has been with the company for more than 20 years.
“Noe stills gets excited to go to a job he loves every day and provide service for his customers and the East Tennessee community,” says Lisa Davidson, employee for 18 years.
Pioneer is invested in its community. The contractor regularly donates bottled water to local schools and charities, as well as money to local charities, schools, churches and athletic teams. Most recently, the staff volunteered to provide aide after the Gatlinburg wildfires.
It’s not just pride in community, but also in its employees. Pioneer has made major investments in continuous training of personnel, service vehicles and inventory to meet the needs of its customers.
“We embrace the use of such technology such as going paperless, GPS dispatching, and constant training to keep pace,” Davidson says.
Displayed in the office are the contractor’s rules to do business by, rules that they try to work by everyday. “Our dedication to providing the best customer service in our industry, with highly trained professionals, is what sets us apart,” Davidson says.
Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.
Since 2004, R&W Heating Energy Solutions has been a small, family-owned and operated business, focused on whole house comfort and energy efficiency.
“We believe in an educated consumer, keeping up with the latest technologies, and are committed to the quality of our work,” says Rick Hatch, partner/owner.
In total, the company has six licensed technicians, one pre-apprentice, one lead energy tech, four office staff members and two owners. “And a canine companion who acts as our mascot and greeter,” Hatch adds.
R&W has undergone and expansion recently, purchasing two residential service divisions of local heating and/or oil companies. “It has presented both challenges and advantages, Hatch says. “It has been a momentous step forward and a tremendous learning experience.”
Though small, the company works closely with organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The employees also spend time volunteering at the local food pantry, and the company has sponsored a food drive 3 years strong for the local Gemma E. Moran Food Bank.
Strong community ties are important for R&W; they give the contractor the opportunity to spread information on improving a home’s energy efficiency and comfort level.
“We strive to keep our customers knowledgeable and informed about their HVAC equipment and their whole house envelope,” Hatch says. “We also strive to keep our employees happy and with the tools they need to best perform their jobs. We feel that we go above and beyond the duties of an HVAC company as employers, members of our community, and a small business.”
R&W Heating Energy Solutions
A one-woman company, S. Jacobs Plumbing serves the needs of residential, commercial and industrial customers in Norwood, Massachusetts.
Owner Sue Jacobs worked for her father’s plumbing business while attending high school, and at the same time earning both her Journeyman and Master License in night school. Now, with more than 30 years of experience, she is the only woman in a fifth generation family of Master Plumbers since 1895.
“I have experience with plumbing, heating, gasfitting, accounts receivable and payable, and marketing. I opened my own business in 2015 and enjoy every day of work,” Jacobs says.
Jacobs is a member of both PHCC of Massachusetts and PHCC National. When she’s not taking on 5-10 daily scheduled plumbing and heating service jobs, she fundraises for Norwood Food Pantry, Norwood Football and Norwood NPA-TV.
She, and two other women plumbers from the Boston area, recently took on a new endeavor called “Ms. Fix It” Workshops. With the backing of PHCC national and PHCC of MA, the goal of the workshops is to educate young girls and boys about the industry and hopefully fill in the skilled worker gap.
“There is a seat for everyone,” Jacobs says. “Men, women, people of each nationality, sexual orientation, religion, etc., if you are a little mechanically inclined, have the ability to follow directions and are hungry to learn, a trade may be a great opportunity.”
S. Jacobs Plumbing
For more than 30 years now, Scott Harrison Plumbing and Heating has served the Orange County area as a full-service air conditioning, water heater and plumbing company.
It’s a small, family-run company with 12 employees, and a big mission — to make happy customers, happier.
With services geared toward complete customer satisfaction, the company’s customer-oriented attitude is evident through its uniquely trained plumbers.
“We are a company that learns daily,” says CEO Scott Harrison. The contractor requires minimum training for his employees at least once a week. “We also attend factory-sponsored training events, including ones by American Standard, Rheem, Noritz, Navien, Rinnai, A.O. Smith, to name a few. Several employees are enrolled in our 4-year trade school, and I have my own tankless museum, which we use for training the up and comers,” Harrison adds.
Harrison serves on the PHCC National Board of Directors as a Zone 4 director, has served on the PHCC of California State Board, and as the president of PHCC (Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino Counties). He is the current president of the PHCC ORSB Education Foundation. The contractor is also involved in community outreach projects, but does so under the radar. “We give no fanfare or attention to it,” Harrison says. “I’ve been told that it is a missed opportunity; I believe the one important to me, knows.”
Scott Harrison Plumbing and Heating Inc.
Since 1946, TDIndustries has provided engineering, construction and facilities services that optimize the performance of world-class mechanical systems.
With 2,235 partners (employee-owners), the company serves a wide range of industries including health care, hotels, schools, sporting arenas, data centers and industrial complexes.
For the past 19 years, TD has been named to Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list and was named #5 on the “Best Workplaces to Retire From” list in 2016.
TD makes it a point to invest in its partners' personal and professional growth through training and education opportunities. “We provide training sessions on Servant Leadership, safety, communication and much more,” says Hattie Peterson, vice president of marketing and communications. “We also offer unlimited tuition reimbursement to full-time employees and will pay the full cost for trade school.”
A culture of service is ingrained in the company’s foundation. In late 2015, 11 tornados hit the Dallas/Fort Worth area. As relief workers cleaned up the affected areas outside in the cold, TD took its “big cooker” truck and served warm meals to storm victims and relief workers. The company has also participated in back-to-school supply drives for underserved areas, toiletry drives for families in shelters, renovations in impoverished areas of Mexico (with Beck), and facility repairs and cleaning at the Child Crisis Center in Phoenix.
“After more than 40 years practicing Servant Leadership, it is woven into every level of our organization and it drives the way we interact with our customers and each other,” Peterson says. “Our mission and values as Servant Leaders guide all of our relationships — with customers, suppliers, communities and among ourselves.”
TLC Plumbing & Utility is a diverse business grounded in plumbing and infrastructure services. Its service division provides plumbing, heating, cooling and drain repair, maintenance and installation services to a broad residential and commercial customer base in Central New Mexico. Its construction division offers a range of infrastructure services, including utility (storm, drain, and sewer), earthwork, concrete, paving and wastewater treatment facility construction.
Since 1987, the company has grown to have more than 500 employees based out of its Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Magdalena locations.
The company’s mission is to provide a stable work environment while being respected among its peers. TLC has worked to accomplish both.
“In 2016, we purchased 120+ iPads to take our technicians mobile and developed a scorecard that the technician can see at a glance their performance for the month,” says Dale Armstrong, president/CEO. “In 2017, we are developing an in-house inventory system that will keep and track inventory of our 105 service box vans and our on-site warehouse.”
In addition to investing in its employees, TLC invests in its community.
The company has partnered with Albuquerque Area Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness. “The Firefighters observe situations where people need a helping hand and call on TLC regularly to help them fulfill those needs,” Armstrong says. “Whether it be a senior citizen with a furnace that is not up to code, or a single mother without air conditioning for her small family, TLC will support our firefighters in making the situation right.”
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With more than 15 years of providing plumbing and HVAC service in the Chicagoland area, Topline takes tremendous pride in the quality of its workmanship.
“We take the training of our employees very seriously, and each and every member of our staff is kept up-to-date on the recent changes and developments in the industry, to guarantee you get the best work, for the best value,” says President Sam Odisho.
With only eight employees, the contractor has grown at a rate of 30 percent for the last two years. “We’re looking to add more staff in both the field and in the office,” Odisho says. “And, we recently added two more trucks to our fleet.”
Running a lean company, the contractor also recognizes the importance of streamlining processes. Recently going paperless, the company techs use iPads in the field for invoices and payments, with cloud-based software.
Working around the clock, 24/7, the small contractor is the main service provider for non-profit organization, Chicago House, which provides housing to individuals who are disenfranchised by HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ marginalization, homelessness and gender nonconformity by providing housing, employment services, medical linkage and retention services, HIV prevention services and other supportive programs.
“What sets us apart is that we provide 100 percent satisfaction,” Odisho says.
Morton Grove, Illinois
The owner, Monica Ryan began working for her father, who started the business in 1946, as a temp employee in 1984. After 3 weeks she decided to stay with the company for good, and in 1988 she became a manager and in 1993, purchased the company from her parents. Today, she is a Master Plumber.
“Our uncompromising commitment to the highest possible levels of integrity, technical expertise and outstanding customer service is the cornerstone of our company,” Ryan says.
Knowing the end result will be a better experience for the customer, Village makes major investments in hiring and training its staff of 70.
“We invest in our employees by sending them to specialized training courses out of state, Ryan says. “We not only send them, but they’re accompanied by a member of management to support them through their training journey.”
The customer-first focus is not just idle talk for the company. “We regularly assist customers in need or those who may not be able to afford a necessary home repair,” Ryan says. In 2016, a customer who desperately needed a new furnace for her home received it and service at no cost to her.
“We value our employees as well as our community, this is what sets us apart,” says Ryan. “We are always looking for new ways to get involved and genuinely care about what goes on in our surrounding neighborhoods.”
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