Case Studies

Clima-Tech Inc.

Record growth and a sizzling supermarket niche

Clima-Tech Inc. (Clima-Tech) is on fire in the cooling business. Since 2009, the California-based refrigeration contractor has grown by leaps and bounds, realizing nearly 50 percent growth over the last five years. Today, specializing in commercial refrigeration systems, particularly in the supermarket sector, Clima-Tech has emerged as the second largest service provider in southern California.

“We started with eight technicians and now we have 55 technicians and 85 employees overall,” reveals Bill Valenzuela, president and CEO of Clima-Tech.

Valenzuela and his partners from a previous company, including Husein Aziz, now vice president and COO of Clima-Tech, purchased the company in the heart of the recession. “Clima-Tech was established in 2002 by the husband and wife team of Edgar and Virginia Zeledon, but myself and other senior leaders from a larger refrigeration company bought Clima-Tech in 2009,” adds Valenzuela.

The road to growth

At the time, Clima-Tech was struggling, pulling in only $600,000 annually. “When we first started, people were trying to talk us out of buying Clima-Tech and banks were reluctant to give us credit lines,” shares Valenzuela. “Everyone thought we were crazy and at times, I thought the same. Starting a company is one thing, but starting it in the midst of a recession is twice as difficult.”

Nonetheless, Valenzuela and his team, including his two daughters, were ready to take on the challenge. “We kept to the grindstone, eventually picking up more customers and work and remaining profitable enough to not only pay the bills but to have enough cash flow to sustain growth and we kept adding technicians, equipment and service vehicles,” he recalls.

“Our beliefs in great customer service, fairness and honesty have helped us get where we are now,” adds Aziz. “The industry was ready for someone with these kinds of values. The loyalty and trust we’ve established with our employees and our customers – them to us and us to them – it’s second to none.”

In just five short years, Valenzuela, Aziz and Ada Roberts, CFO of Clima-Tech, along with the rest of the company’s team have grown the firm from a mere $600,000 to 10 million annually. “We’re truly blessed to achieve what we have and we’re hoping to hit 15 million by the end of 2014,” says Valenzuela. “We’ve built solid relationships with the decision makers in this industry.”

Based in Chino, Calif., Clima-Tech continues to expand throughout southern California and beyond. “We have 85 employees and they’re the ones to thank,” assures Aziz. “They’ve made our growth possible through their dedication.”

“We are so proud of our employees’ dedication and hard work,” adds Valenzuela. “I believe they are the reason for our success.”

With a trusted team, Clima-Tech has its sights set on further geographical expansion. “Our vision is to extend across the U.S.,” reveals Valenzuela. “First, we’re moving into Arizona and Nevada because our bookkeeping and data system is all remote. We can tap into the network from any location.”

Supporting the supermarket sector

Clima-Tech is one of only a handful of specialized refrigeration companies serving the supermarket industry in southern California and since entering the sector, the company has claimed a good share of the market. “We’re now serving about 90 percent supermarket clients and 10 percent restaurants,” notes Valenzuela. “While the new construction side of the industry has slowed down, the service side is still very much a necessity.”

Clima-Tech supports major supermarket chains and convenience stores such as 7-11 and Vons Cardenas Whole Foods to name a few. “Most of our work has been service along with some major and minor remodels,” shares Valenzuela. “We completely gut the store’s refrigeration system and install new equipment on major remodels.”

The company has tackled rounds of R22 change-outs, as well. “Everything that cools, from a car’s AC to home AC, it all uses some type of refrigerant,” explains Valenzuela. “The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] has deemed R22 as a high global warming potential gas and will not allow the production of R22 by 2020. It is estimated that 70 percent of stores in southern California have R22 gas as part of their refrigeration system and their HVAC system and we are recommending retrofitting with R407-A refrigerant in order to meet EPA standards.”

A reenergized market

While remodels have been a smaller portion of Clima-Tech’s workload lately, Valenzuela says new construction is starting to look up. Therefore, the company is ready to get back into general contracting mode when the market is ready. “We completed a ground-up supermarket for Vons recently, where we installed all the refrigeration equipment that we were very proud of and the customer was very pleased with,” he details.

“Before the downturn, some customers were doing around 60 projects a year,” cites Valenzuela. “From 2009 to 2010 it dropped to just eight or nine projects, but they’re looking to build back up to 50 projects a year. While it’s still a mixture of new stores and remodels, things are looking up.”

In turn, Clima-Tech is going strong. “We see ourselves with at least 150 employees and possibly doubling in revenue in the next couple of years, in addition to expanding to Arizona and Nevada,” shares Valenzuela.

“Although we have experienced some tough financial times in our company’s five-year history, our faith has helped us overcome them all,” adds Roberts. “Clima-Tech is truly blessed.”

The company continues to invest in people first and foremost, from customers to employees. “Not only do we believe in the creator to lead the way, we also invest in His best creation, our employees,” assures Aziz.

After just five years, Clima-Tech Inc. has made a trusted name for itself in southern California and beyond, delivering expert refrigeration contracting backed by an industry-leading team.

Published on: July 21, 2014

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