Keith Lawson Company
- Written by: Ivy Carter
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Keith Lawson II, CEO of Keith Lawson Company (KLC), has been carrying on the second generation of family ownership at the Florida-based company for as long as he can recall.
“My father, Keith Lawson Sr., founded the company in 1980 originally as a one-man operation performing service work,” recounts Keith. “I’ve been here since the beginning, assisting my father throughout summer vacations. After I earned my construction degree from the University of West Florida in 1992, I came back to work in the business full time.”
KLC has made great strides in the Southeast’s HVAC industry since its establishment. The company now operates out of its home office in Tallahassee, Fla., serving the entire state, as well as into Georgia and Alabama. “We’ve just reopened our Panama City, Fla., office a little over a month ago,” shares Keith. “When the economy went south, we were forced to temporarily shut it down, but now that things are picking back up we’ve been able to reopen.”
The family-owned and -operated company offers heating, air conditioning, full mechanical and plumbing services to homeowners and businesses alike. While KLC has experienced tremendous growth over the past decades, the company’s standards and reputation have remained constant. Years later, the KLC team strives to uphold Keith Lawson Sr.’s original principles of quality work, keeping promises and bringing jobs in on time and on budget, as well as making every effort to satisfy clients.
“We’re 100 percent customer service-oriented,” reveals Keith. “From commercial to residential service and new construction, we make sure our customers know the price and the schedule up front, and we promise to follow through with it.”
Winning High-profile Projects
KLC’s reputation for great service extends into the commercial new construction industry throughout the Southeast. The company’s design-build and estimating staff has more than 100 years of cumulative experience in plumbing and HVAC contracting. “Our reputation has earned us a great deal of high profile jobs recently,” explains Tim Harrell, president of KLC. “One of our spotlight projects is the Florida State University [FSU] Indoor Practice Facility, which is set to reach completion by the end of summer 2013.”
Tim admits that although the FSU facility has consisted of fairly standard work for KLC, operating on a busy university campus along with a tight timeframe has made the project very challenging. “We’re installing large-scale air handler turnover units and chilled water system in the brand new building, which will house the FSU football team,” he details. “We broke ground in November 2012 and will be wrapping up by late August 2013; everything seems to be on track at this point.”
After a 12-year run with KLC, Tim understands the ins and outs of handling complex sites. “We’re basically at the mercy of FSU’s scheduling,” he admits. “Dealing with that and the coordination of multiple trades has been tough. We’ve self-performed everything with the exception of insulation and controls, so that’s allowed us to ensure quality and timeliness.”
In for the Long Haul
Tim reveals that KLC is also in the early stages of a $2.3 million full HVAC installation for the brand-new Madison County Hospital in addition to assisted-living communities in Georgia. Working in several markets and states has helped KLC weather the effects of the economic downturn.
“We didn’t just sit around and wait for work,” says Keith. “We ventured further into Georgia and other areas for opportunities and also relied on the service side of the business more heavily. We had to get smart, and that included scaling back a bit and shutting down the Panama City office for a period of time.”
Additionally, KLC’s location has helped the service and repair side of the business grow. “This region of Florida is subject to quite a range in temperatures,” explains Keith. “From cool winters to blisteringly hot summers, we recognize our customers’ needs and offer maintenance programs to suit specific concerns. No matter the economic situation, everyone needs proper maintenance which ensures that systems run efficiently, have better air control and promote energy savings.”
Keith admits that the economy may be recovering, but the company is still struggling to find qualified employees. “The right people are critical,” he says. “We thought we had plenty, but it’s been difficult to recruit more. We intend to continue to grow and diversify by increasing our geographical footprint away from home.”
Keith remains an optimist after many years watching his father foster a company culture grounded in quality service and customer care. “We’re always looking for new opportunities, wherever that might be,” he adds. What started out as a one-man operation has continued to grow sustainably as the plumbing and HVAC leader in Tallahassee and throughout the Southeast, upholding the founding principles of Keith Lawson Company.
For more information about Keith Lawson Company, please visit: www.keithlawson.com.
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