Case Studies

Altrol Inc.

Providing quality services and building customer trust in Alaska

Founded in 1982 by David Bridges, Altrol Inc. – doing business as Altrol Heating, Cooling & Plumbing – is celebrating its 32-year anniversary in 2014. Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, Altrol covers the state’s expansive territory to service its customers, burning the midnight oil in the land of the midnight sun.

Bridges came to Alaska in 1972 through the military. He was attracted to the state’s variety of hunting and fishing opportunities, and he volunteered for the assignment. A true lover of the outdoors, Bridges acted as a wilderness big-game hunting guide, outfitter and pilot for 15 years, but stopped in 2008 to focus more on his growing company.

Keys to success

Altrol is an HVAC, refrigeration and plumbing service contractor for the commercial and residential markets in interior Alaska. The company works within interior and northern Alaska, within a several hundred-mile radius of its main office in Fairbanks, servicing both the commercial and residential markets.

With a goal to maintain an unequaled reputation in the Alaska area, Bridges focuses on honesty, integrity, quality workmanship and exceptional customer service as the keys to Altrol’s success.

As a full design-build firm, Altrol employs 30 workers. Situated in a relatively remote location, one of the toughest parts of Bridges’ job is finding qualified labor.

“Getting the right people in the right positions is difficult,” Bridges says. “We recruit locally and in the lower 48 states to find qualified people. To combat the limited supply of educated and experienced techs and installers, Altrol has a large training room and conducts weekly training for all our workers.”

Bringing in new employees to learn the trade has done wonders for Altrol, as it is able maintain a staff of knowledgeable workers. Preforming regular certifications and up-to-date training on the newest technology and innovations, Altrol’s workers are capable of providing top-notch service across the state.

Taking care of his employees is a top priority for Bridges. Since the company faces constant difficulties finding qualified people, Altrol makes a greater effort to keep workers long-term. With everything from on-site training, top pay, a great benefit program, spiff and bonus program, to company-provided turkeys and hams on holidays, Altrol treats its people like family. “We care about our employees,” Bridges says proudly.

Valued customers

Altrol maintains a mission statement that speaks to its foundation. “We will always be the premier, most trusted, highest quality contracting and service company, always focused on the imperativeness of treating our customers the way the team likes to be treated,” Bridges details.

Focusing on respect, ethical practices and supportive customer service, the company has found success in building a trustworthy reputation in Alaska. “We have been successful because of our honesty and integrity,” says Bridges.

Bridges upholds Altrol’s continued success through guaranteeing customer satisfaction. “Keeping our guys busy and pleasing customers is one of my biggest sources of pride,” says Bridges. “We have a very strong reputation here in and around Fairbanks. We certainly are not the cheapest, but we strive to be the best.”

Self-performing nearly all of its work in-house, Altrol works with very few subcontractors. “We sub out the electrical work mostly on commercial air conditioning jobs,” Bridges explains. “We have a few guys that we have built relationships with, whom we reach out to on these jobs.”

Building business

Working across the state, Altrol credits some of its success to its membership with the Nexstar Network, a group of more than 500 mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors. “Nexstar is a great organization, with cutting-edge training for HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors, and the networking is awesome,” explains Bridges.

From boiler replacements in places along the remote Yukon River, to duct cleaning in Dead Horse and Prudhoe Bay, Altrol runs the length of the country’s largest state to provide services. While the company’s commercial work is a large part of business, Altrol caters to residential customers, as well.

“We have thousands of residential members in our Energy Savings Club,” Bridges continues. The company replaces hundreds of boilers and furnaces each year and boasts a sheet metal shop, as well as self-performing all fabrication work in-house, as well. Altrol also sells, installs and services wood and pellet stoves, as well as all home appliances.

A growing market

The economic downturn barely affected Altrol, due to the company’s focus on more service than new construction. Bridges barely noticed the change with his clients. “Alaska sees things differently,” he details. “Economic changes need to be big in the lower 48 for us to really be affected up here.”

As the northern-most state, Alaska has experienced a surge of economic growth since the early 2000s. With a steady flow of new businesses rolling in, Altrol’s reputation fits the bill for many of the new clients looking for plumbing, refrigeration and HVAC services.

Looking at new commercial and residential growth, and an expansion of the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry, there will be plenty of work in the future for Altrol, leaving very little for Bridges to worry about. “Nothing really keeps me up at night,” he says. “I say my prayers before I go to sleep, and I sleep well.”

Having a consistent market, Bridges expects Altrol will continue to see steady, managed growth in the coming years. The upswing in the lower 48 can only add momentum to a rapidly expanding economy in Alaska. Altrol Inc. is poised and ready for the future.

Published on: July 1, 2015


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