United Air Temp
- Written by: Tom Faunce
- Produced by: Ryan Fecteau
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
With a long history of quality craftsmanship and excellent customer service, United Air Temp (UAT) has developed into a leading residential HVAC contractor. With four locations in Florida, two in Atlanta, one in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 19 in the Washington, D.C., metro area, UAT has been able to expand its market share along the East Coast from its humble beginnings in Erie, Pennsylvania.
In 1931 Clifford B. Fowler founded a small manufacturing and product assembly business called the Fowler Heating Company. The company began as a builder of incinerator and crematorium equipment. Clifford also sourced controls and materials for other product assembly with its sister company, Aire Flow Distributing.
Due to consumer demand, the company shifted its focus to the HVAC business and in 1976, Clifford’s son Bill Fowler took ownership of the company. With knowledge and experience from his tenure as a Trane employee, Bill guided the business through its target market transition and initiated the company’s geographical expansion, ultimately changing the name to United Air Temp.
Today UAT is headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, and employs a team of 250 with a fleet of approximately 200 service vehicles. The company has since changed hands in ownership. Gabe Ivanescu, CEO, now works alongside Michael Giordano, president, as well as Butch McGonegal, senior vice president, to ensure that UAT operates smoothly.
McGonegal brings more than 45 years of industrial experience to UAT. Beginning his career with his family’s HVAC company, McGonegal established a strong business relationship with former president Bill, who invited him to become involved with the business in 2000. Since then, Butch has taken on part ownership of the company, taking great pride in the business and his team, noting that experience, integrity and flexibility help UAT to stand out from other HVAC contractors.
As a company that has been in business for 85 years, UAT has witnessed and experienced success in numerous forms. Today, the company is looking at the relationships with its clients and suppliers as one of the most important measures of success. “We’re continually receiving positive feedback on digital media,” says McGonegal. “Customers are continuously writing positive reviews about our service and people without solicitation.” The growth and achievements of the employees of UAT is another method of measuring success for the company. “We strive to see our people continue to grow and develop within the company. That’s a big part of our success.”
The impact of technology
With the ever-evolving world of technology impacting the industry and businesses each year, companies must take into account how to embrace those technological advances as well as how they will impact efficiency. “We are gradually implementing a fully automated purchasing system,” McGonegal explains. “With this system, once something is entered into an invoice it automatically flows electronically back to our central system, deletes it from inventory and reorders it from the supplier.”
Out in the field, all UAT technicians are equipped with tablets through which they process all work orders electronically. “We’re really streamlining the efficiency of our operating systems through inventory control and becoming a paperless company,” says McGonegal.
UAT has carved out a niche in the market by focusing primarily on residential service and replacement, with an emphasis on high-efficiency equipment and zoning where applicable. With the expiration of tax credits in 2016, UAT is cutting back on the geothermal aspect of the business, due to the decrease in viability of the energy form. “It’s excellent from an operating expense standpoint,” says McGonegal. “From an investment standpoint the payoff is too far down the road.”
McGonegal remains hopeful that the return on investment for geothermal and solar energy will improve in the future, but maintains the belief that without subsidies they are not feasible. “Looking at what’s happening in the world now, it appears as though petroleum-based products are going to stay and with the availability of natural gas as a much cleaner-burning fuel source, we will continue to see that as a dominant force in the market for now,” says McGonegal. “The reduction in energy and resources that equipment is requiring today is where a lot of the efficiency lies in the industry today.”
Looking forward, McGonegal is excited about the possibilities both for his company and the industry. He believes there are a lot of opportunities and numerous methods for increasing efficiency. The success of UAT will consistently come down to relationships. With strong communication, integrity and safety as top priorities, United Air Temp will remain a standout HVAC contractor in the eastern United States.
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