Case Studies

Lima Company

The right choice for commercial plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration within the mid-Atlantic
  • Written by: Self-submission by Robert E. Adams Jr.
  • Produced by: Dave Gushee
  • Estimated reading time: 5 mins

As the U.S. was celebrating its bicentennial in 1976, Bob Lima was celebrating something else as well -the birth of Lima Company. On the tail end of a severe recession and high unemployment rates, Lima put his dream in play to help people and make a difference in the commercial plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration marketplace. Throughout Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic region, Lima has been developing life-long clients and partners for nearly 40 years.

The start

When Lima started the company in 1976, he purchased a preowned van and began doing small jobs in northeast Philadelphia. His sole vision was to help people. His philosophy was simple: treat all clients the way you want to be treated.

Honesty, integrity and hard work were the special ingredients. It is evident these ingredients still make up the majority of the recipe for client care at Lima Company; just ask one of the company’s team members.

As business expanded, Lima Company needed some help satisfying clients. In 1978, Bob Powers joined the company and that was the start of the Lima Company team. “We started out doing mostly smaller work, but in the late seventies, larger commercial clients started to call us,” recounts Lima.

Lima’s first large opportunity in the commercial sector was a series of condominium conversions in some of Philadelphia’s most prominent high-rise buildings. “As business started rolling, we had opportunities to service supermarkets and petroleum facilities, as well as national retail clients,” says Powers. “It is all about the clients and their needs, no matter their size.”

As the company started to grow, Lima decided it would be best to partner with local unions to gain access to highly professional and qualified technicians. This was the start of exciting times and great things to come for Lima Company.

Throughout the years

Blessed with consistent growth for over 32 years, Lima Company continued to provide clients with solutions to their needs. “We recognize the need to become true business partners with our clients and their facility maintenance teams” states Lima. “There are many moving parts to a facility and it is our job to understand the parts and provide support, guidance and options to the facilities team.”

Through the years, Lima Company has earned a reputation of superior client care. This starts with highly trained technicians in the field. “Our technicians are the best in the industry,” says Powers. “We pride ourselves on our breadth of knowledge and ability to deliver the best for our clients.”

One great example is a job at a major Philadelphia sports arena. The large-scale piping system deteriorated inside the concrete pillars of the facility. To replace the lines would have cost in excess of $750,000. Lima Company researched a new pipe lining technique and used this method to line the existing system and saved the owner over $500,000.

Another example is a large religious facility that needed a new boiler room. Lima Company designed a boiler room and replaced the current boilers, piping and venting. The outcome was a 40 percent savings in energy usage, lower maintenance cost and the savings paid for the upgrade to the boiler room in a short time.

Lima says the company has utilized this design for over 15 years and has fine-tuned the design to reach upward of 60 percent saving for some clients. They strive to provide projects that make clients’ money instead of costing money.

When asked how the team accomplishes this goal, Powers replied: “We are able to perform these highly technical projects, thanks to our dedicated and extensively trained management and field execution teams. Our goal is to provide clients what they need, when they need it and help them with options to pay for it.”

Lima Company

 Refusing to put the brakes on

“In 2008, we noticed definite changes in the marketplace,” Lima says. “Our clients started to downsize, merge and defer their facility maintenance. As I analyzed where we were headed, I realized that there would be no maintaining our business. We would either have to invest and grow the company, or shrivel up and die on the vine.”

Lima Company chose the first option; to continue to thrive. Keeping to true Lima  style, the company absorbed the decline and did not lay off anyone during the gradual decline of 2008 to 2012. “My main concern is to care for my core team and their families,” humbly states Lima. “We have the best and most talented team in the industry and we are proud of that.”

Lima Company believes its people are the core of the business. “Without our people, there is no Lima Company,” adds Lima.

The rebirth

During 2012 to 2013, sales dwindled to 30 percent lower than the company’s best year. Lima decided to develop a growth plan to begin marketing the company. The goal was three tiered: first stop the business decline, then stabilize the business, and finally proceed to grow the business.

The plan included hiring Bob Adams, as vice president of sales and marketing, to help spearhead the turn around, as well as developing and executing a strategic growth plan. “For 25 years I watched Lima Company grow from afar as a vendor partner, and now I am honored to be part of the team,” says Bob Adams. “Our management team is dynamic and we have lots of energy. We love to help people and this shines through our actions on a daily basis.”

By the end of 2014 Lima Company sales were up 30 percent above the best year on record, which is truly a 60 percent swing in sales from 2012 to 2014. “This is what happens when everyone on the team is pulling their weight and we are all doing what’s best for our clients,” says Adams. “It’s all about having a servant mentality and having fun doing it.”   

Continued Success

Lima Company believes that it is only successful, if the people that surround the company are successful. This includes clients, vendor partners, manufacture representatives, unions and trade associations. “For business success to be sustainable, everyone involved has to win,” adds Adams. “If everyone does not win, then no one wins.”

Lima Company is excited to partner with trade unions in a team-oriented approach. “Over the years, the unions have responded to the needs of our clients by tailoring the training programs to accommodate our changing marketplace and affording us options to help our clients in this competitive world,” says Lima. “This would not have been possible without the Mechanical & Service Contractors Associations. Their vigilance for keeping current on the changes in the marketplace and the needs for services has and will continue to be a highly valuable asset.”

On any given day, walking through the office at Lima Company, Lima says you hear team members respond to clients with enthusiasm. “You often hear, ‘it is our pleasure,’ or ‘we are glad we can help,'” says Lima. “This is a telltale sign of a company who enjoys helping its clients.”

With the right team and the right approach, Lima Company continues to produce the right results, making it the choice contractor for all commercial, plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration needs.

Published on: August 17, 2015

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