ACS Systems Associates Inc.
For some companies, the stimulus funding has had little impact on the bottom line. For other companies though, it has created a mini-boom of projects. ACS Systems Associates Inc., based out of Mount Vernon, N.Y., is a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialist that primarily works on government projects, and thus has experienced an increase in activity.
The company, founded in 1983, had been doing high-quality, high-end residential/private commercial work. However, the volume was essentially limited to word-of-mouth referrals. In 1995, Ahmad Reyaz, a mechanical engineer with extensive experience in public works, joined ACS, which embarked on an ambitious plan of becoming a major HVAC contractor in its niche. “In 1995 it was a $300,000 company with a couple guys and a truck,” Reyaz recalls. “Today, thanks to the dedication of our professional associated, we employ around 25 people at any given moment and we are anticipating gross sales in the $15 million to $20 million range for 2010.” ACS generates this business operating on new construction, retrofits and major renovations.
Reyaz notes that the key to the firm’s success has been a focus on quality control and positive customer service. “I think we’re a success as long as the people who employ us and the people employed by us – such as subcontractors, vendors, etc. – are happy with our work and payment practices.” The ACS team is true to this philosophy, and because of its consistency ACS counts among its satisfied clients some pretty high-profile names – primarily in the metropolitan New York City area, Long Island and Westchester – including: the NYC Housing Authority, NYC Fire Department, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, public museums and more.
Of course, when the government is your client there are a whole new set of challenges to face. “We’ve got a couple of big projects coming up with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and that has a lot of challenges in terms of the environmental controls and DEP-specific safety issues that we’re going to have to address.”
The firm is used to meeting those challenges, however. As examples Reyaz details a couple of the firm’s more difficult projects. “We had a job with a federal agency to renovate the HVAC, electrical, lighting and sprinkler systems at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Theodore Roosevelt’s home in New York. The client wanted $1.2 million of work to be done, but they could not adjust the opening date of the site, so we only had about four weeks to get all of the physical work completed.”
Another project with time constraints was the update to the HVAC system at Fort Wadsworth. Prior to its closure as a military installation in 1994, it laid claim to being the oldest continually manned military installation in the United States. Today, it’s maintained by the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, who contracted ACS for the project. “Again, we were given essentially six weeks of intermediate shutdown time between the cooling and heating seasons, an extremely short window of time, to complete $4 million in upgrades and repairs to the facility.”
The company, in addition to being able to work with major clients with short timetables, is adept with advanced, energy-efficient technologies. ACS is presently engaged in a geothermal heating/cooling project for Battery Park City, utilizing coolers placed underwater in the Hudson River. “Pier 1 at Battery Park is a special challenge for us, because we will be installing a river water-based geothermal heating/cooling system. Geothermal systems save the client thousands of dollars over the life of the system versus traditional, and water-sourced systems are the most efficient.”
Attention to Detail is the Only Option
The company will follow clients where they are needed, but tends to find most of its work keeps it associated with greater New York City institutions. “Because of the stimulus funds, schools are turning into one of our biggest clients right now.”
ACS acknowledges that the firm is where it is today due to its ability to coordinate between general contractors, owners and architects, and through the careful vetting and diligent management of its subcontractors and vendors. “Subs are an important part of the chain. The work they do reflects on your company, so we make sure that all of our subs follow the same principals as us. Attention to detail and client satisfaction need to be just as important to them as it is for us.”
The ACS team feels the company will only see more growth as its projects and clients remain high-profile. “We are expecting to at least double in size, maybe triple, over the next couple of years. We’ve been working on securing ample bonding to cover that expansion.”
Since ’95 new approaches and strategies have taken a firm that was “a couple of guys and a truck” to regional prominence. With the twin principles of ensuring client satisfaction and attention to detail, ACS Systems Associates Inc. and its team of dedicated professionals are equipped to continue thriving.
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