DMR Mechanical LLC
- Written by: Neil Cote
- Produced by: Sean Davis
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
For the owner and vice president of a company, Rick Barr always finds something to keep him humble.
There was the time—actually there have been many such times—when he was roused from his sleep, this time by a customer whose sewer line had just burst. Within the hour Barr and another man, each clad in their trademark overalls and work boots, were in a ditch making the repairs well before sun-up.
Then, after a shower and coffee, it was to the office to answer more calls.
“An old man once told me, ‘if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will,’” the affable Barr says. “Still holds true today.”
HVAC and more
Such a modus operandi should ensure many prosperous tomorrows for DMR Mechanical LLC, the tight-knit, full-service HVAC, plumbing, refrigeration and piping company that Barr and his partner, co-owner and president Mark Ross, operate in Shreveport, Louisiana, where storms, floods, blanket-thick humidity, furnace-blast summers and even occasional frost can tax the effectiveness of the best equipment.
Longtime tradesmen who learned from their dads and cut their teeth with another company, Barr, Ross and Danny Gilcrease, who retired in 2012, started DMR Mechanical in 2004, each bringing years of experience toiling in all matters climate control and plumbing.
Though not exactly young men—they were in their 40s and 50s—they nevertheless put up much of what they had and took the chance in a most competitive industry, spending long days procuring work and acquiring customers through their reputation for affordable rates and the type of workmanship that could only come from being “in the trucks” rather than the boardroom.
“It was overwhelming at times, but we had built up another company and said, ‘why can’t we do it for ourselves?’” he remembers. “We’re still not gonna get rich, but we do make a living. That’s all we expected to do.”
Actually, they probably exceeded their expectations.
From DMR’s humble beginnings of a few trucks and a handful of dutiful guys, the bustling company now employs between 75 and 90 unionized men and women operating out of a fleet of 80 vehicles and answering calls from Louisiana to East Texas to southern Arkansas. Most often, the company’s reputation precedes its arrival.
“If there’s something wrong that they did, they will go back and make it right,” assures Barr, who takes pride in a work force with over 500 years of combined industry experience.
“We keep the finest, pay them well and that’s what makes them stay,” he says of his employees, the number of whom may fluctuate depending on season and need. “It’s a family atmosphere, not a corporate setting. No hierarchy here.”
Knowing that their bosses can and will leave the office and get their hands dirty is a morale booster among the rank and file for the all-purpose company that services, repairs and replaces all brands of heating and air conditioning, as well as providing preventative maintenance with parts and labor discounts. EPA-certified technicians are always on call.
The plumbing division handles all repairs large and small, services water heaters and lawn sprinklers, cleans drains and sewers, and fixes gas lines.
Other services include industrial process piping, refrigeration and boiler service, steam applications, air balance and welding, and repairing boilers and pressure vessels.
The bulk of the work, about 80 percent, is commercial, though the residential division is expanding as many apartment villages and condominium complexes depend on DMR’s services.
Always at someone’s service
Major customers include Wal-Mart, river gambling boats, Louisiana towns and cities, grocery chains, hospitals, the lodging and hospitality industries, restaurants, all kinds of manufacturers and the oil and natural gas refineries. So steady has been DMR’s growth that the company sometimes has had to slow down just to ensure its quality of work wouldn’t be compromised.
And the service calls come despite limited marketing. Other than occasional television commercials and mention in trade magazines, DMR hasn’t been particularly aggressive in getting the word out. The company’s customers pretty much do it for them.
“We’re in the service business, that’s what it is: service,” Barr again stresses. “If there’s a secret to our success, the main thing is taking care of the customer. Many wind up being friends as well as customers. Word of mouth can be everything.”
Reviews in the cyberspace world reflect this.
“Use them for AC repair and to fix some busted pipes. Great work,” writes one satisfied customer.
But busy as they are, Barr, Ross and their employees don’t spend all their time in ditches and around machines. Rural Louisiana is a sportsman’s paradise and one they enjoy to the fullest.
“Ninety-eight percent of us hunt or fish,” says Barr, noting that his state—indeed, much of the Southeast—is overrun by feral pigs that have become the scourge of farmers. But they do make for fine chops, ribs and bacon, and provide for challenging game for Barr and his friends, some of whom bear the scars of tangling with the sharp-tusked hogs.
“We’re just regular guys who came out of the sewer trucks,” Barr reminds. “Jeans, work boots—no Guccis going on here.”
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