Case Studies

R.C. Jacobs Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.

Keeping it comfortable for 50 years

In January 2014 R.C. Jacobs Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. (R.C. Jacobs) had a lot to celebrate, rounding out 50 years in business and second-generation president Robert W. Jacobs’ 50th birthday. “We turned 50 together this year,” shares Robert. “I’ve been working in this business since I was 11 or 12 years old. I started out making $1.00 an hour and I got a 10-cent raise the next year. I worked every summer five days a week throughout school.”

Robert’s father, Roy C. Jacobs, founded the South Carolina-based mechanical contractor in 1964, the year Robert was born. “My father is still active in the company and we’ve remained a family-owned business,” says Robert. “In a few more years, the tradition will continue and my son, Casey will take over the business.”

Leaning on longevity

Out of a sea of other HVAC and plumbing contractors in South Carolina, Robert says the R.C. Jacobs family name stands out thanks to its 50-year history. “The sheer age of our company is a big draw,” he says. “There are many, many years of experience conglomerated into R.C. Jacobs and we deliver three different trades whereas most other companies only do one or two, so we’re more of a one-stop shop in that sense.”

Even after 50 years, R.C. Jacobs believes in doing as much in-house as possible. “We only subcontract insulation services and occasionally duct work if we’re a little short on help, but we try to use our own forces as much as we can,” assures Robert.

The company’s in-house abilities are thanks to loyal, tenured employees. “We have very loyal people here; a lot of our men have been with us for more than 30 years,” reveals Robert. “Right now we have about 60 employees, but before the recession we were up around 120.”

R.C. Jacobs calls Georgetown, S.C., home and the company mainly serves the eastern portion of the state. “Over the years we’ve had a few jobs in Columbia, S.C., and we have a license in North Carolina, as well, but for the most part we stick to eastern South Carolina,” notes Robert.

Robert says there’s been a population influx in the state in recent years, with more young families and school-aged children, which bodes well with the company’s educational niche. “Charleston is booming right now and that’s spilling over into Georgetown as well,” he says. “We do have a full service residential plumbing and HVAC installation crew, but 99 percent of our business is in commercial mechanical work for schools and retail customers.”

Delivering complete comfort

R.C. Jacobs specializes in designing, engineering and installing complete comfort systems, taking special pride in craftsmanship and job site integrity. “From the professionalism of our sales engineers to the dedication of our field personnel, we are dedicated to delivering the best, hassle-free service,” explains Robert. “We do what we say we are going to do and are always upfront about ours and our clients’ expectations.”

This high level of attention and service has earned R.C. Jacobs a spot as one of the region’s most trusted HVAC and plumbing contractors. “In 2008 we completed full mechanical upgrades at the Cayton Bay High school, a 385,000-square-foot facility that’s one of the largest high schools in eastern South Carolina,” reveals Robert. “In Charleston, on the old naval base, we performed a full scope of mechanical installations for the Department of State’s Homeland Security office, a very complex, technologically advanced facility.”

But no matter the facility, R.C. Jacobs strives to deliver optimum comfort and energy efficient heating and cooling. The company’s website showcases an Energy Star-approved guideline to reduce heating and cooling costs. R.C. Jacobs recommends changing air filters regularly, regular HVAC tuneups, installing programmable thermostats, sealing heating and cooling ducts and to consider installing Energy Star qualified equipment.

Robert says the company has overcome a slow economy by relying on the maintenance and service side of the business, because no matter what, HVAC and plumbing are necessary services. “Before the downturn we were doing close to $20 million a year,” he reveals. “It’s a tough industry to survive in these days, because there’s lots of competition and lower profit margins.” However, Robert remains positive.

“The people really making money in the construction industry are the manufacturers,” adds Robert. “Contractors are having a more difficult time with ever-changing rules, regulations and new codes, but those are all good things, it’s just a matter of accepting and learning.”

After 50 years in business Robert says the company is still learning, still growing and still improving. With a few more birthdays away from retirement, he’s gearing up to transition the company onto the third generation and R.C. Jacobs Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning remains a trusted, family-owned name serving South Carolina.

Published on: January 8, 2015

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