Case Studies

Buzzell Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc.

Building on 40 years with new services for modern efficiency

For a solid 40 years, Buzzell Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc. (Buzzell) has been running trucks with its signatory blue “B” around central Georgia, delivering a new standard in efficiency. Since opening its doors in 1974, Buzzell has grown from a small storefront business on First Street in Warner Robins, Georgia, to a multimillion-dollar company. Today, the family-owned Buzzell has a lot to celebrate, including diversified business channels, a new corporate headquarters and three generations of family involvement.

Buzzell was established in 1974 by Sam Buzzell. From the beginning, Sam worked to build a shared vision for the family-based company with his son Bob Buzzell, now owner of Buzzell.

“I was living in Connecticut for several years, but came back to work with my father,” recounts Bob. “I returned to the company in 2001 as an employee and purchased the company from my father in 2008.”

New avenues

With a solid base to build on, Bob began expanding Buzzell, diversifying the company’s offerings from mainly new residential HVAC and plumbing installation. “In 2001, we were doing 95 percent residential new construction and I decided we needed to develop new revenue streams by 2006,” he tells.

When Bob took over Buzzell, the company went from 17 people to 70. “We have had tremendous growth, even with the recession,” he says. “It slowed us down a bit, but we fared well because we had various revenue streams in place. I have a degree in economics, so I knew it was the right thing to spread the company across different profit centers.”

Today, Buzzell offers a range of plumbing, HVAC new construction, maintenance and service across the residential, commercial and light industrial markets. But no matter the service, the end goal is to extend the life span of plumbing and HVAC systems in order to bring the best value to the customer.

“The ultimate goal of the company is to provide full-service plumbing, heating and air conditioning products and services, balanced prices, efficient equipment while offering cost-effective products that utilize renewable energy,” cites Buzzell’s website.

Bob says getting through a down economy is about avoiding putting all of your eggs in one basket. “We’ve expanded our services to a point where numbers are holding pretty even across the board now,” says Bob. “There’s no one big customer we’re completely reliant on.”

Room to grow

In order to accommodate more services and more staff Buzzell added between 15 and 20 positions over the last couple of years. “We have been averaging about five people a year,” reveals Bob; the company has expanded its footprint, as well.

“We opened a second location in Macon, Georgia,” details Bob. “In 2012, I noticed about 10 percent of our business was coming from this area, so we opened a smaller location with a branch manager and some service techs. Most installs still come out of Warner Robins.”

The company’s corporate headquarters in Warner Robins is also getting a boost. “We have a new location we’re currently building, a newly constructed corporate headquarters,” shares Bob. “Once construction is complete, we’ll kick off a joint celebration of the facility and our 40-year anniversary.”

Efficiency on the job and in the home

Whether Buzzell is working on a church addition or the complex mechanical installation for a Veterans Affairs Hospital, a Holiday Inn Express or an upscale apartment renovation, the end goal is greater efficiency. “All of our service techs now have iPads and mobile solutions so they can see the total history and even if we did the original work,” says Bob.

Buzzell is making great strides in home energy efficiency through energy audits as a certified Building Performance Institute (BPI) contractor. The organization has revolutionized the home performance industry over the last 20 years.

BPI-certified professionals are trained and tested under nationally recognized standards using the house-as-a-system approach to improving performance, which has proven to lower annual utility bills by as much as 20 to 30 percent. BPI is also cited by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, the Environmental Protection Agency and several state Weatherization Assistance Programs.

“We make an assessment of the home based on proper insulation and envelope tightness,” explains Bob. “Everything from sealing the attic to blowing another layer of insulation to upgrading to more efficient heat pumps and tank less water-heater technology is in our scope of work.”

Bob and his team are always thinking about the end-user. “From our assessment, should the homeowner choose to install the changes, the local power company will offer a rebate, air quality improves and systems just run better – it’s a win-win,” measures Bob.

It is services like this and BPI certification that, according to Bob, has attracted more and more business as of late. “Spreading across different markets has resulted in most of our growth,” he considers. “Luckily, we had put these in place before the recession and it’s all coming together now. We’ve picked up 20 new clients in the last two years.”

The future is bright. “It’s starting to hum a little bit more,” adds Bob. A new set of energy-improving services and the same family-backed commitment to quality: that’s the buzz on Buzzell Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc.

Published on: April 7, 2015

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