How We Did It: GallettAir Inc. Green Solutions
Originally published: 10.01.12 by Carmine Galletta
In two months, GallettAir of Long Island, N.Y., added a new division that offers energy-performance testing.
Editor’s Note: GallettAir will be celebrating 30 years in business in 2013. The company, which was the first winner of HVACRBusiness’ Tops in Tucks contest, has 30 employees.
We began discussing adding a new division to our company about a year ago. We decided to form a “green division” because of the recent green-building code requirements that have developed here on Long Island, N.Y.
Also, considering the age of the homes in our region, it made perfect sense to offer energy-performance testing.
Another motivation was that, as part of the local utility’s rebate program, we had been working on partnering with local government programs that help homeowners with financing the necessary improvements identified during testing at a reduced interest rate.
It took about two months to prepare to launch GallettAir Inc. Green
Solutions. Here’s how we did it:
Planning Phase: Choices, Introductions, and Expectations
First we had to make some choices. We researched the programs and testing facilities available to obtain the necessary certifications; and the testing equipment and tools needed to perform the tests. We made our decisions, and then booked training and purchased the equipment and
We identified three of our top service technicians to send for training to become Certified Building Analysts. The cost of the necessary testing equipment and technician certifications for all three totaled about $15,000.
I introduced the concept of the new division to managers one evening over pizza and soda. I wanted to know how they felt, as they would be the ones overseeing this additional department.
They were immediately on board. After a few more meetings, we presented the idea to our service, installation, sales, and office staff.
By that time I had already had a fleet design on paper, which made it even more exciting to introduce the new division. It was important to make everyone a part of the new division, and I told them not to expect an immediate return on investment: As with any new service, it would take time.
Financially I could not forecast a goal because we never marketed this type of service, and I didn’t know how it would be received. But performance wise, I did require that everyone make their best effort to market the new division at every opportunity. Personally, I committed to trying to sell at least one test a week.
Post-Launch: Serving and Educating Customers
Through GallettAir Green Solutions we provide energy-performance efficiency testing and evaluations. Testing options can be requested on an individual basis, but normally a comprehensive evaluation requires all of the testing procedures be performed at the same time.
With the blower-door test procedure, we place the home or building under a negative pressure. This enables the technician to determine the exact areas that are in need of attention. Common issues we find include inadequate insulation, leaking heat or air conditioning ducts, air infiltration and ex-filtration, and leaking water pipes in walls and under slabs. We also are able to diagnose overheated electrical wiring issues and provide infrared thermography testing.
Once the testing is completed, our technicians present the customer with a fully detailed written diagnosis. We also provide infrared pictures of the structure for future review for the customer or contractors performing the necessary energy-saving repairs.
Another leave-behind is a list of our preferred contractors that are properly licensed and insured. (We do not receive a referral fee if the homeowner chooses one of them.)
To help the homeowner move forward to address the issues, we submit a list in priority order as we see fit.
However, we find that cost is always a key factor for homeowners deciding what area of the home to address first. Even if they don’t do anything with the results of the test immediately, at least they know exactly where they should be investing their money to get the most energy-saving return on the money spent on their home improvements.
An example of a customer we served was a homeowner with a residence on the bay. The home’s climate was uncomfortable because it was suffering from poor and unbalanced air delivery in the summer, as well major heat loss with hot and cold spots in the winter.
Through energy-performance testing, we found that the home had a leaking air-duct system that had no insulation in some parts and inadequate insulation in others. We also found inadequate insulation in the attic, along with heat gain in the summer months as well as cold air dropping down into the house.
Finally, we determined that the system was undersized for the home because over the years, additions, skylights, and vaulted ceilings were added without replacing or resizing the climate system.
Overall, our customers for the testing services are a mixed bag. We are fortunate to have a large base of contract customers, which made it easier to get information out and book jobs in the beginning.
ROI and Long-Term Benefits
It’s difficult right now to say how much the new division has added to our top line and profitability because we are still in the infancy stage. But, we do feel that this type of service will become a major part of our industry and will bring lucrative return once people are more educated about it.
We know our marketing is working because people are inquiring about the services. The new division may grow more slowly than our heating and air conditioning division, but it’s important to remember that energy-performance testing is not yet considered a necessary service. But over time, as people become more aware and educated of its benefits, it will become a standard procedure in our industry.
We now offer this service on every system replacement and installation that we offer. We are attempting to make it part of the sales package, not just for the sake of the sale, but because it truly does offer the homeowner something valuable.
Carmine Galletta is owner of GallettAir Inc. of West Babylon, N.Y. He began his career in the industry in 1976 at age 18 after graduating North Babylon High School with a two-year technical diploma in HVAC from Wilson Tech, and obtained a position as a mechanic’s apprentice. In 1983, at age 25, Carmine started his business, GallettAir Inc. Heating & Air Conditioning and remains the current owner going on 30 years.
Articles by Carmine Galletta
How We Did It: GallettAir Inc. Green Solutions
GallettAir of Long Island, N.Y., added a new division that offers energy-performance testing in two months.