H.H. Hovey Heating & Cooling Inc
Herb Hovey entered the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry in 1979 after making a big career change. “In the mid-1970s, I was working for a recreational vehicle dealer,” he recalls. “I was married at the time and knew that I wasn’t going to get anywhere in that job. I decided I was going to go to technical college for three years and when I came out, I started working for an HVAC company.”
Herb gained experience, performing commercial work for his employer and some residential work on the side. After more than a decade in the business, Herb struck out on his own and founded H.H. Hovey Heating & Cooling Inc. (HHH) in 1990.
Today, HHH has grown into a large regional installation and maintenance business. Herb’s team works out of a single location in Winston Salem, N.C. With 18 employees and three service crews, the team installs and maintains hundreds of comfort systems in the area each year. The company’s bread and butter is the residential market, although HHH also serves area businesses.
The crew offers a wide selection of systems and services. Herb’s employees are all trained and experienced in the industry. The crew works diligently to provide safe, friendly and efficient service to residential and commercial customers, whether performing a new installation, annual maintenance or an emergency repair.
Herb and his crew offer more than HVAC products and services; the team strives to provide a positive customer experience. When home or business owners call HHH, qualified and experienced service, a respectful interaction with the business and 24/7 access in case of an emergency is expected – and delivered. In the name of service, the company offers energy audits, system evaluations and maintenance plans that help keep home comfort systems running smoothly year-round.
“We have a strong maintenance program,” Herb explains. “We have around 1,500 prepaid maintenance contracts in the area. These contracts average about $300 a piece. Through that program, we gain a lot of consumer trust. Those contracts probably make up 75 percent of the business. The rest is comprised mostly of commercial replacement and service work. New home system installation is probably only about 5 percent of our volume.”
HHH has been busy over the last few years, as the economy has picked up again. The team’s broad capabilities allow the business to serve a diverse clientele on challenging and unusual contracts.
The crew recently picked up a large geothermal job in the area for new construction. “This is for a customer that I already have,” Herb notes. “He and his family decided to build a new house and they want to go geothermal for the energy savings. We will be starting that project in the next few months.” The team is bidding on another large house in the area for a contract HHH works with on a repeat basis.
“I think new construction is picking up in the area,” Herb says. “We usually do custom home stuff. What kept us in business throughout the recession was tightening up.” By managing costs and operating lean, HHH is on track for growth over the next few years. Herb aims to double the company’s revenue. With the help of dedicated, long-term employees and strong industry relationships, the business is growing steadily.
HHH is a member contractor to the North Carolina Plumbing and Mechanical Association (NCPMA). Herb has been involved with the organization for three years and says the benefits have been great. “I’d say the biggest benefit would be the colleagues that I have met,” he explains. “It is great to have a network of professional peers who have maybe been in the business longer or experienced different things. A lot of people are willing to help you with the challenges of running a business in this industry.”
Herb also looks forward to educational opportunities, seminars and conferences. He and his employees benefit greatly from the educational opportunities that NCPMA offers. As the construction industry picks up throughout the recovery, HHH has the resources to stay competitive in a growing market. Herb has also seen signs of improvement and is looking forward to growth in the coming years.
Overall, Herb knows his greatest resources are human. His relationships with fellow NCPMA members are irreplaceable and his team is unparalleled. “Hiring good people is critical,” he explains. “We know we are only as good as the people we work with. We guarantee customer comfort and we follow through. Our referral base is amazing and that is where we gain most of our customers.” By following through and providing quality, efficient service, H.H. Hovey Heating & Cooling Inc. continues to grow through word-of-mouth in North Carolina.
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