Case Studies

Central Cooling & Heating Inc.

Providing energy efficiency solutions in the Northeast

For 50 years, Central Cooling & Heating Inc. (CC&H) has been providing residential heating and air conditioning installations and service to the greater Boston area. “Our goal is for all of our customers to be 100 percent satisfied with their experience with Central Cooling and Heating” says Darren Hamilton, part owner of CC&H. Located in Woburn, Massachusetts, CC&H has been a family business since its inception.

Founded by Doug Hamilton Sr. in 1966, CC&H began as a one-man operation until Doug hired hisCentral Cooling & Heating Inc. first salesman in 1978. Throughout the 1980s, the company experienced tremendous growth as it completed numerous condominium projects. “At that time a lot of condominiums were using heat pumps,” says Hamilton. “My father was one of the founders of the Northeast Heat Pump Association, which was formed as a networking solution for contractors.”

Hamilton and his brother, Doug Hamilton Jr., began working for the family business when they were still children. “I started working for my dad during the summer when I was 13,” recalls Hamilton. “My brother and I started by working in the shop helping fabricate ductwork. When we were 16, we would go on the road helping with the installations.” Hamilton joined the company full time in 1991, after graduating from college. After starting in the company’s warehouse, he soon went into sales. Hamilton is still heavily involved in the sales aspect of the business.

Innovation within the industry

In 1995, CC&H started installing hot water systems as well as ducted air systems. “This was unusual for the time and we’re one of the only companies in the area that were capable of doing both systems,” notes Hamilton. “Now you see a lot more companies following this philosophy.”

In 2015, CC&H began expanding its services again by establishing a new division called Central Home Energy Experts (CHEE). This division concentrates on home performance contracting. CHEE became a partner with Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ natural gas, electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers to provide a wide range of efficiency services to help residents and businesses manage energy use and related costs.

“We most recently acquired a new device made by Aeroseal that seals up existing duct systems from the inside, meaning we can seal up existing duct systems very efficiently” says Hamilton. “It can improve the performance of your ducted system by as much as 40 percent.”

With its services providing homeowners with energy-efficient solutions, CC&H has established itself as a niche contractor in the heating and cooling industry. “Our primary customers are often homeowners that are looking for a complete solution to their comfort and energy needs,” says Hamilton. “This is why we established our home performance division: so we could become a complete comfort contractor. It’s often that customers will think they need to buy a new furnace and it turns out the furnace is fine, they just need to make changes to their house or ductwork to make their house more comfortable and energy efficient.”

Hamilton says that CC&H always tries to stay ahead of the technology curve — an example being variable refrigerant systems. “We have been installing these for years now and we believe in what we sell to our customers,” says Hamilton. “When my brother and partner built his house recently, CC&H installed a new variable refrigerant system with radiant floor heating. This is a system very similar to what we have put in many houses over the past few years.”

Adapting to change

“One of our next goals is to start insulating homes in-house,” says Hamilton. “This will allow us to provide our customers with the complete comfort package and we will be able to control the quality better because we will be using all of our own employees to do the work, which will ensure the customer is getting what they are expecting. An example is that most people think that if you just added insulation to your attic you would save money and prevent ice dams. Unfortunately, this is not true. If you do not seal up the leaks in your house before you insulate, then your results will most likely be unsatisfactory. We know from experience that most houses are not sealed at all before they are insulated.”

Labor has been one of the biggest challenges that CC&H has dealt with. Despite the low turnover rate of employees at CC&H, the company is constantly in search of auditors, service technicians and laborers. “That has been our biggest obstacle,” says Hamilton. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that before 2011, we could hire someone that wasn’t licensed in sheet metal and then train them ourselves. We can’t do that anymore.”

As CC&H continues to focus on home energy efficiency, the company will be streamlining the process by adding more qualified personnel.  Doing our own insulating and home-performance work will help us to maintain steady growth for the future,” says Hamilton.

Published on: June 24, 2016

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