You hear a lot about sustainability whenever construction or engineering is discussed nowadays. It’s a buzzword and well it should be. Resources aren’t unlimited, and progressive companies don’t want anything going to waste. It’s not just environmentally irresponsible, it’s bad business to boot.
Heating ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer, supplier and servicer Trane adds another factor to the sustainability equation: The people it entrusts to interface with the builders who depend on the Ingersoll Rand subsidiary for HVAC in residential construction.
They may be front-line, sales-focused individuals, but they’re not just there to sell the industry standard in heating and cooling appliances, explains Mark Hall, builder and retail sales leader for Trane. Before they pull on that company polo shirt, they’d better be well versed in how all building trades must be integrated for peak HVAC efficiency.
“Just being an HVAC expert isn’t enough,” Hall says. “We have to understand what the builders are looking for. We can sell them core HVAC systems, but there’s everything else that goes around the core that’s also important. It’s no longer just a matter of installing a box to heat and cool; there’s the interaction of windows, the roof and insulation. The whole building envelope comes into effect, and what is important to the builder and homeowner—comfort, efficiency, clean air, etc.”
That may include expedited learning in, but not limited to, air conditioning, furnaces, dehumidifiers, pumps, coils, geothermal and ductless systems, healthy homes and pool heaters.
Essentially everything air-related—and more—must be second nature to those representing Trane. They can’t just put on airs.
Cool corporate culture
With Hall’s eye for talent weighing in, Trane has taken aboard dozens of young men and women in the past couple of years, making them de facto ambassadors of a company with distribution in every state, as well as Canada. They enhance an already formidable team that Trane sustains with a welcoming environment, generous compensation and ongoing training for an ever-evolving industry.
Other companies, including some competitors, may spout clichés about corporate culture and teamwork, but Hall emphasizes that at Trane, such standards aren’t just talking points.
“That team is critical,” he tells US Builders Review in mid-July, a busy time for any company in the business of construction and HVAC. “You can have the best product in the world, but without the most capable people, distributors and contractors, it just doesn’t work.”
An MBA grad from Xavier University whose resume includes international commerce, Hall has compiled over 20 years with Trane, in various capacities. Perhaps, above all a people person, he says the best parts of his duties are understanding and tending to customer needs, building a team that follows just that example, and expanding it company-wide. While Trane makes no apologies for being demanding with its employees, it does inspire and incentivize them.
“As long as the employee has the hunger to advance, he or she can do amazing things,” he says. “It’s up to the employer to provide the ability to grow and evolve, but it’s up to the employee to embrace that.”
The new ones seem to be doing just that, and at what might be the most opportune time for Trane.
A perfect storm
The Great Recession fading into memory, residential construction is on the uptick, accompanied by factors that may mean more demand for Trane’s products and services.
Land scarcity is becoming a reality in many choice locales, and with denser developments—be they subdivisions, condominiums or apartment villages—noise ordinances may come into play. Smaller living units also may necessitate heating and cooling units built to scale. Then there are evolving regulations that may vary state by state.
Ever concerned with Mother Earth, California is writing codes for which manufacturers do not have products that even meet the spec, Hall muses, adding that Trane’s preference is cooperating with rather than confronting regulators, but industry realities may call for intense lobbying.
At any rate, never has the HVAC industry been so critical and under such scrutiny, and that requires a specialist to go the extra mile. Trane has its own Seasonal Extreme Environmental Test lab in Tyler, Texas, where it subjects its units, as well as those of its competitors, to what would be torture for anything alive. Sixteen weeks of bone-chilling cold and blistering heat in repeated two-week cycles may be ample proof that Trane’s products are built to last.
“Our technicians have tried to break our Climatuff compressor over 900 ways, which has produced a saying proclaimed on the company website: If a product doesn’t make it through our test lab, it doesn’t get made,” states Hall. “By putting our heating and cooling units through five years’ worth of wear and tear in the matter of a few months, we reinforce our philosophy of making products you can rely on for years and years.”
In other words, to paraphrase an old country rocker, “Can’t stop a Trane, you gotta let it roll on.”
How green is their tally
With summer giving way to autumn, Trane marks the third anniversary of its parent company’s Climate Commitment to employees, customers and shareholders.
Back in 2014, Ingersoll Rand commenced on a journey to increase energy efficiency and reduce its environmental impact, with ambitious goals for the future. That three-pronged approach entails:
- 50 percent reduction in direct greenhouse gas potential of its products by 2020, and incorporating alternatives with lower global warming potential across the entire portfolio a decade later.
- A $500 million investment in product-related research and development over the next five years to fund the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
- A 35 percent reduction in the company’s own greenhouse gas footprint by 2020.
“Ingersoll Rand walks the talk and has made significant improvements to its manufacturing and transportation footprint, including a breakthrough calculator that tracks greenhouse gas reductions and ensures that results are captured,” the company proclaims.
And that kind of sustainability wouldn’t be possible without its prize workforce that has been brought onto its long-term roadmap. At Trane, sustainability begins at home, but it doesn’t stay there.
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