Case Studies

Smith & Keene Inc.: Powered by People, Flowing with Experience

  • Written by: Smith & Keene Inc.: Powered by People, Flowing with Experience
  • Produced by: Smith & Keene Inc.: Powered by People, Flowing with Experience
  • Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Smith & Keene Inc. (S&K) is a leader in heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. Operating for over six decades, S&K understands how disruptive and stressful an ineffective HVAC system can be, so the company has made it a personal mission to provide only top-notch quality workmanship and reliable customer service to make the installation and/or repair process as pain-free as possible. The company operates from locations in Chesapeake and Newport News to service a wide range of communities.

Whether working on a new installation, repairs or replacements, S&K understands that building a positive relationship with a customer is the highest priority, and to do this the company sticks to a clearly stated set of values. “It’s a matter of trust. It’s a matter of commitment. It’s the pursuit of excellence,” reads the company motto, and S&K continuously proves to the industry that sticking to a schedule doesn’t require throwing quality workmanship out the window. Instead, S&K approaches the issue of timeliness as a component of quality workmanship, because every minute makes a difference.

In the 64 years since the family-owned and -operated company was founded, the Smith family and the Keene family have been heavily active in the day-to-day operations to assure S&K’s commitment to its customers is consistent. “We lent our names to the company, and if it means working 18-hour days than that’s what it takes,” asserts Archie Smith Jr., vice president of S&K.

Archie’s father co-founded S&K in 1946 with E.G. Keene. Eighteen-hour workdays might have been common for Archie in the earlier days, especially after he became a full partner in 1974. However, as Archie puts it, “I’m coaching from the sidelines more these days.” Today, the third generation of the Smith family and the second generation of the Keene family have taken the lead in day-to-day operations. Archie’s sons Tim and Gary serve as president and CEO, respectively, and Emmett Keene serves as secretary/treasurer. What has never changed is the company’s promise to provide equipment from the most respected manufacturers, installed and serviced by the most professional, up-to-date technicians.

A Personal Approach

Back in 1947, S&K was known in the Hampton Roads area as a small, but ambitious electrical wiring firm. In the early years, S&K made a name for itself by developing a highly organized wiring system for power generators on remote, unfinished sites, allowing construction crews to more efficiently use their power tools. Six decades have since past, but the company brings the same enthusiasm and dedication to all the divisions that have developed throughout the years to meet the needs of businesses and homeowners, even in other states on the Eastern Seaboard.

The retail heating and air conditioning department responds swiftly to replace old heating and air conditioning systems. Commercial HVAC specialists can find a top-of-the-line solution to meet even the most complicated commercial and industrial systems. S&K can fabricate custom components from its 3,500-square foot sheet metal shop for the perfect fit. S&K’s plumbing department places equal importance on the systems of dream homes and warehouses, and can retrofit systems in existing structures.

S&K maintains one of the most efficient service departments in the industry for commercial and residential service. Service agreements to keep systems in tip-top shape are offered for a reasonable cost. “The service department is not one of our larger divisions, but all 28 of our service personnel are critical to our operations and our reputation,” asserts Archie.

In essence, the licensed, insured and NATE-certified service department serves as S&K’s first line of defense when something goes wrong. Customers who choose S&K do so oftentimes because of the reputation of its service department. Service department representatives and technicians offer open communications around the clock.

Continuously Improving

The company is well established in its areas of expertise, but S&K has never been the kind of company that stands still. In business terms, S&K places heavy importance on staying up-to-date in every way through continuing education programs and pursuing new markets. S&K runs in-house continuing education program so certifications never lapse and employees are continuously being reevaluated and trained to use, install and maintain the latest technologies and techniques.

When environmental sensitivity emerged as a growing priority for many, S&K was happy to finally have a name for the services it had been providing all along. Nowadays, S&K offers top-of-the-line energy-efficiency equipment from major manufacturers like Carrier, American Standard, Kohler and Craftmade Lighting, just to name a few of the many premier vendors with which S&K works. Long before, S&K worked with numerous clients to identify problem areas and maximize a system’s efficiencies and earning many a customer’s trust and business.

Of course, a company with a reputation for reliability and talent doesn’t go unnoticed for long and the company has maintained a steady stream of high-profile projects for some time. For example, in 2010 S&K finished $7 million in HVAC and plumbing work for new housing at the Norfolk Naval Base, as well as numerous apartment complexes and residential community work.

By the end of 2011, S&K will be wrapping up HVAC and plumbing work on a new housing at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. “We still call them barracks, but they’re nothing like the barracks you think of from WWII,” says Archie. Indeed, the new barracks have been designed along the suite style of dormitory popular at college campuses nationwide. Units are divided up into groups with a common kitchen and living area and shared bedrooms off of the main area.

Never one to miss a beat, S&K is preparing to start work on a new administrative building at the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City, N.C., and Archie expects to finish 2011 off strong. “I think the economy will pick up in 2012 and we’re looking forward to growth in all our divisions both residential and commercial,” he says.

With a firm foundation of reliability and respect upon which to continue growing, the company is determined to maintain continuity as it continues to innovate. The many families that make up Smith & Keene Inc. hold the resources that will reinforce the company’s trusted name for generations more.

Published on: March 10, 2013

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