Last week, we discussed the opportunities for Commercial HVAC business when new constructions are on the rise! New is great and allows for the newest/best technologies and standards to be set up from the start. However, this week we wanted to share another area of opportunity in our field. The ongoing need for preventative maintenance and upkeep for the not so new.
The value of preventive maintenance to the commercial heating and air conditioning contractor continues to be a popular topic at industry events. The most recent session I attended on this topic was during the recent Mechanical Service Contractors Association conference. About 200 attendees packed a room to hear from three of the industry’s best PM proponents: David Bavisotto, vice president, service with Illingworth-Kilgust Mechanical; Steve Smith, senior vice president, ACCO Engineered Systems; and Jon Finch, vice president, training and recruiting, Milwaukee Tools.
This power trio framed their presentation around the idea that times and technologies continue to change, but the need for preventive maintenance remains a constant opportunity.
We’ve gone from color-coded dispatch boards and a $30/hour service rate in the 1970s, to beepers, pagers, two-way radios, and up to today’s cell phones and tablets, with labor rates of well above $120/hour.
Service offerings have also expanded, with value-adds like thermal imaging, vibration analysis, energy services, and energy service agreements. GPS has helped to streamline pre-planning and improved vehicle tracking. R-22 is disappearing. Micro-channel coils need less refrigerant, and the popular building protocols Lon and BacNET provide unlimited access to control systems. Offices have became paperless or close to it, and the smartphone is king. And have you looked into drones yet?
These improvements have all contributed to the contractor’s need to service existing (and aging) buildings. “
The service business is absolutely one of the key businesses to be in,” Bavisotto said, because, guess what? People need heating and cooling, in every economy.
The median building age is over 32 years, and half of all commercial buildings were built before 1980. Sixty-one percent of construction projects are retrofits. “In 2012, the amount of commercial office space exceeded 87 billion square feet,” Bavisotto said. “As these buildings age, there are more opportunities for service providers.” Why would you, as a commercial mechanical contractor avoid this sure thing?
Another key fact they shared is that 50 percent of all buildings in the U.S. are 5,000 sq. ft. or less. “For this vast amount of customers, we just see the service business doing nothing but increasing,” Bavisotto said.