Case Studies

Tom Barrow Company

An Icon of Customer Service in HVAC

Tom Barrow Company (TBCO) was established in 1955 as a representative of commercial HVAC and sheet metal products. Through diligence and hard work, TBCO gradually expanded with specialized applications and a team of experienced sales support personnel to ensure quality customer service. TBCO is now the largest independent commercial HVAC representative in the Southeast, boasting 10 locations across Tennessee, Georgia and Florida to ensure each client’s needs are met. TBCO’s team goes above and beyond simply selling commercial HVAC equipment by providing in-house expertise to ensure even the most daunting HVAC conundrums can be solved.

The company is based out of Smyrna, Ga., with two additional offices in Georgia, five in Florida and two in Tennessee. TBCO acts as the exclusive regional representative to more than 70 brands from industry leaders Price Industries, Temtrol and Governair to more specialized manufacturers focused exclusively on certain market niches like: Flanders filter containment housings, Lumalier ultra violet disinfection systems and Seresco pool dehumidification systems.

“The high level of service we provide has definitely made the difference in the past three years,” says Mike Shea, president of TBCO. Many of TBCO’s 135 employees hold engineering degrees, allowing the company to provide top-notch service. TBCO prides itself on working closely with mechanical engineers, contractors and building owners to devise the best solutions within the client’s budgetary and performance expectations. The extra effort to ensure total customer satisfaction has paid off as TBCO has successfully established a presence in the medical and institutional market, along with significant activity in data center construction.

Shifting Gears

“That shift is part of what brought me to TBCO in 1997,” admits Shea. Many of TBCO’s longtime clients had eyed projects in specialized facilities, including hospitals, laboratories and universities; TCBO brought Shea in to help facilitate the diversification. Shea had spent almost a decade working with applied custom and semi-custom products from Carrier.

TBCO believes in getting customers to see with their own eyes the difference certain products can make, which is why the company has two demonstration trailers that it moves across the southeast to show customers the latest in technology. One of the trailers manages to pack many examples of TBCO’s latest green technology products into 36 feet. “These are products that can not only improve building operation efficiency, they can also increase the comfort of the occupant and contribute to the LEED certification of the building,” adds Shea.

The second trailer has been outfitted only with Temtrol’s Fanwall technology products, which offer more efficient and less costly air handling solutions with the added benefit of system redundancy. The technology turned the HVAC industry upside down over a decade ago when it was introduced by challenging the industry’s assumption that single fan units were the only solution. Fanwall technology air handling units instead use multiple smaller high-efficiency fans to circulate air through a building.

“We have supplied these units to a lot of critical jobs across the Southeast, and now we’ll be able to demonstrate its power directly to the customer with this demo from Temtrol,” says Shea.

The use of multiple smaller fans provides redundancy, which is critical in facilities like hospitals or laboratories. The use of multiple fans also allows the system to scale operations to meet the building’s changing needs throughout the day by simply switching fans on and off as needed.

Fanwall technology air handling units also weigh less than conventional systems, and overall can help reduce the unit footprints by 30- to 70-percent in comparison to traditional air handling units. Temtrol has also outfitted the units with sound reduction; the team paid specific attention to vibration providing quieter units that don’t require isolation, even when installed above hospital operating rooms.

Defying Expectations

TBCO remained stable throughout the past few years by playing to its strengths and helping clients solve challenging HVAC dilemmas. In early 2012 TBCO’s Memphis team was approached by a client about supplying underground duct work for the construction of NEA Baptist Clinic’s new 80-acre campus in Jonesboro, Ark. The project’s initial design called for 24-inch diameter concrete underground duct work, but the TBCO Memphis team recognized the potential for confusion between trades and offered an alternate solution.

After obtaining approval from the design team, TBCO Memphis worked with the project’s sheet metal contractor to establish lead times and price points based on AQC Industries Blue Duct’s allowance. TBCO then provided samples and installation videos to both the contractor and engineer. Because the product comes standard in 24-inch diameter, it was able to ship from stock in just two days, ensuring the project could stay on schedule. Ultimately, AQC Industries Blue Duct proved to be less costly, less time intensive and just as durable as the original concrete solution and construction continued on schedule.

TBCO’s specialized expertise has helped the company survive the economic downturn and find growth in 2011, with more growth expected in 2012. TBCO’s strategic partners will continue to pursue projects in highly technical facilities where the team’s breadth of knowledge is best put to use. The company will in turn push the team to search out the best available HVAC solutions to any given problem, securing Tom Barrow Company’s place as an icon of customer service in the HVAC industry.

Published on: March 13, 2013


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