Case Studies

Southern Mechanical Inc.

Heating and air conditioning specialists serving seven states

Bob Malick, president of Southern Mechanical Inc. (SMI), never expected to run an HVAC company. “It was Georgia Southern College then,” jokes the Georgia Southern University graduate.

Malick first started working in the industry as a summer job in 1977. “I never thought this was where I would end up,” he continues. “This was not the direction I had in mind, but I always tell my children, ‘You can make your plans but you have to understand that life is just going to happen.'”

After developing a strong skillset and deep knowledge of the industry, in 1992 Malick set out on his own. What started as a small heating and air conditioning installation business has flourished into a multi-state operation.

Based in Nashville, Tenn., SMI employs 25 people. From a single location, the company’s geographic footprint extends beyond Tennessee into seven states throughout the Eastern United States.

Over the years the team has established a niche in residential and commercial air conditioning and heating installation and retrofitting. Approximately 90 percent of SMI’s business is for multifamily and student housing projects, with the remaining 10 percent in commercial work.

Time-sensitive work

What sets SMI apart, Malick explains, is the team’s uncanny ability to obliterate project deadlines. “We hit the schedule we are given,” he states simply. Over the years, Malick and his crew have worked on a number of high-profile projects, particularly student housing work, of a time-sensitive nature.

“When timelines are tough, to hit the mark everyone has to do everything correctly first time,” he elaborates. “These projects have the greatest dividend. You cannot make any mistakes. The typical timeline we have is usually about nine months to a year on our student housing projects, but we have turned them around faster than that.”

Recent work includes the Elliston 23 residential building, close to home in Nashville. SMI completed the heating and air conditioning installation for 360 units in the brand new building.

“Most of what we do is brand new, though there are some retrofits every once in a while,” Malick notes. “Another recent project was the Westin in Raleigh, N.C. We completed phase I and phase II, which were each between 400 and 500 units.”

Two of the more memorable projects for Malick were student residence buildings on two Southeaster campuses. “We worked on Progress 910, a student housing facility at University of North Carolina [UNC] Wilmington,” he recounts. “That was 186 units. We had a similar project on student housing at Georgia Southern University. These were my personal favorites just because of how fast the projects moved. We had to have both of these projects completed in six months each, which substantially cut back the time we usually have for these projects.”

Continued growth

Student housing is a growing market for SMI. In the coming years, the team has projects coming up in Oklahoma and Minnesota for this kind of work. These larger projects helped keep the business strong throughout the economic downturn. “We tend to get hit one to two years after the fact because of the size of projects,” Malick clarifies. “Our downturn came in 2009. Everything has come back pretty strong, though. Right now it doesn’t look like it is going to slow down in foreseeable future.”

However, the crew has remained busy due to SMI’s established reputation in the industry. The company buys absolutely no advertising and in 2014, does not have a website. “Our business comes fast and furious,” Malick says. “All of our contracts come through word-of-mouth. We gauge our success on profitability and being able to finish a project when we are supposed to. That is where we get the true recognition and that is why we receive the calls that we get.”

This impressive efficiency is helped along by a strong team. Many of SMI’s employees have been with the business for two decades, since Malick first started to get the business off the ground. He takes great pride in his team’s capabilities and trusts these professionals to help him grow and improve the company.

In the coming years, SMI is continuing on the path of fast-track projects. We will continue to do more student housing,” Malick says. “Very few contractors can keep up with the pace and we can. We have several projects down the pipeline and we hope to stay booked for a while.” With mounting opportunities in a growing market, Southern Mechanical Inc. is set to continue providing high quality heating and air conditioning installation services to a growing footprint in the Eastern U.S.

Published on: January 8, 2015

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