In 1962 Bill Gardiner founded his HVAC equipment supply business in Cleveland, Ohio. From a small office with only four sales people, one service technician and a secretary, the business, now known simply as Gardiner, has grown to employ more than 200 people out of two locations in northeast Ohio. The two present offices are located in Solon, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland and Uniontown, Ohio, allowing Gardiner to serve the communities of Akron and Canton.
Gardiner has expanded its product line, as well. What started as a Trane equipment representative specializing in heating and air conditioning products has grown into a diverse supplier and installer for the components of HVAC systems, as well as energy, controls and building service products. Bill has entrusted Bob Case, CEO, as well as Rick Reder, COO, to lead the company; Bob and Rick celebrated 40 and 30 years with Gardiner, respectively.
The business is in the trusted hands of a strong management team, which includes Jim “Wojo” Wajciechowski, director of marketing for Gardiner. Wojo, as he is known around the office, has a background in engineering. He studied mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. and has worked in the energy industry as a consulting engineer prior to joining Trane in 1985. Wojo has been part of the Gardiner team since 2011.
Strong Products and Services
Gardiner continues to represent Trane equipment, selling a broad range of HVAC products to local contractors and owners alike. While in theory all suppliers perform the same function, the team stands out with a high level of experience, expertise and service. The company has moved beyond the role of sales, providing energy services, HVAC systems, automation and controls, integration, building services, parts, intelligent services, as well as industry-related training. Gardiner has grown from a supplier to an energy partner for clients.
Broad capabilities and expertise have attracted clients from a number of sectors, including education, health care and government, as well as several industrial and commercial projects. Recent customers of Gardiner include: banks, municipalities, industry, as well as a number of regional schools and health care facilities. Gardiner offers custom solutions to the differing needs of clients and the owners they represent.
A standout project the team has recently wrapped up was a series of renovations for Willoughby-Eastlake School district in northeast Ohio. The team worked in more than 20 schools upgrading classroom and common space environments to save energy and better facilitate the learning environment.
“There were a lot of specific facility needs on these projects,” Wojo explains. “We did lighting retrofits, air conditioning and boiler systems, all designed to be highly efficient. Some of these were pretty extensive. One got a new roof, high efficiency lighting, windows and doors; we replaced everything but the studs and structures. It was all fast track work so the students wouldn’t miss school. This was a combined effort. We had a lot of help from the school district and we were allowed to offer some major savings.”
In sensitive environments, such as schools, the Gardiner team really shines. The crew brings a high level of focus and professionalism to every job, ensuring space and noise levels are respected. With a fast track project, scheduling is vital and Gardiner is coordinating several trades at the same time. Highly experienced project managers keep everyone out of each other’s way while getting work done efficiently.
Strong management and even stronger relationships have kept Gardiner moving, even through tougher times in the market. “We build relationships with our subs the same way we do with all of our other partners,” Wojo notes. “We were able to give them steady work during the economic downturn. They work with us on a lot of projects and they are highly appreciated. We choose partners that value quality and have the same sense of value as we do. Many of our subs are on a repeat basis, but we try not to overburden their resources. We trust what they do and it makes a difference.”
With a strong team within the company and outside it, Gardiner continues to diversify vertically and horizontally. With a growing presence in the energy service end of the business, the company is able to offer higher performance solutions than ever. In turn, this process saves clients cash while offering the same service and quality in products many have come to expect from the business for more than 50 years.
“Economically, we have been able to avoid most of the downturn issues,” Wojo explains of his team’s growth pattern. “The last seven years have been record-setting for us. We continue to grow, because we have a strong sense of strategic direction. The economy has not picked up, so traditional business has been flat at best. There aren’t many cranes in Cleveland, and not much new construction. Most of our work is creative, renovation and retrofit work. Energy-driven projects have sustained us, allowed us to grow.” Backed by the leadership of Bill, Bob and Rick, as well as quality and efficient practices, Gardiner will continue toward the path of growth, looking ahead to new opportunities in 2014.
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