Craig and Sharry Angell, owners of Angell Aire
Originally published: 08.01.07 by Terry Tanker
Craig and Sharry Angell started Angell Aire Inc. seven years ago and have enjoyed great success, winning Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems 2006 Dealer of the Year. They recently talked to publisher Terry Tanker.
1. What’s parked in the garage?
A Kawasaki Vulcan, Saturn Sky, and a Ford F150.
2. Craig, I heard a rumor that you don’t have an e-mail account. Is that true?
Actually, that is no true. But I was able to hold off for an awfully long time.
3. How were you able to manage without one?
My wife Sharry, and my office manager, Kay.
4. Sharry, let’s name names. What famous customers have you done work for?
Tony Dungee, when he was with the Vikings; Greg Olson, a catcher for the Braves; and John Kline, a state representative. They were all very nice to work with.
5. Craig, what book are you reading?
I just finished The Simple Genius.
6. How did you get your start in business?
I started as an installer in 1973 and worked for other contractors throughout my career. I was working for an owner who was approached by Service Experts and sold the business. I left with several others and started Angell Air seven years ago.
7. Sharry, last year you were named Bryant’s Dealer of the Year. That’s a significant accomplishment in just seven years. How did you succeed so quickly?
I think we understand how it feels to be a customer. We install the systems we sell in our own home, so we know exactly how they perform. As a result, we are able to communicate, empathize, and explain exactly what customers can expect from our systems and our service.
8. Craig, what is your favorite part of running the business?
Going out to the job sites and scheduling — getting our guys out the door in the morning.
9. Do you still do installations?
No, I gave that up a long time ago. But I still like to go out in the field.
10. What is your largest capital expense?
Our fleet vehicles. We have about 18.
11. Do you have GPS systems in your vehicles?
Not yet. However, we just listened to a presentation this morning from a vendor. The systems are really impressive, and I think we’ll be making that investment later this year.
12. Do you have a preferred vehicle brand?
We have both Fords and Chevys. Recently, we did work for a GMC dealer, and we just took delivery of a new van from him last week.
13. What role have IAQ products and higher-efficiency equipment played in the success of your company?
Nearly all of our replacement equipment is our best variable-speed furnace and high-efficiency air conditioners or heat pumps. Not only do the customers comment on their satisfaction with the additional comfort this equipment provides, but income and margins have substantially increased with the high-end systems. IAQ sales and profits have increased with the introduction of Bryant’s Perfect Air Purifier.
14. How do you conduct customer satisfaction surveys?
As a Factory Authorized Bryant Dealer, all customers are mailed a 12-point Bryant Customer Care survey with their paperwork. Most customers respond to the survey, which allows them to rate us on a scale of 1 to 10 covering 12 service 20 points. The survey also allows for comments, which we review.
15. What have the surveys taught you?
We’ve used the surveys in two ways. First, to demonstrate to prospects our overall satisfaction level with other customers and to show us internally any areas we could improve. We noticed at one time that customers had rated us less than 10 points in the area of explaining the operation of the Evolution control. We now spend additional time to ensure that the customers fully understand the control operation.
16. Sharry, do you have a good marketing story you can share?
This story would more accurately fall into community service but ended up turning into a public relations/marketing story. A local paper was sponsoring a home-kitchen makeover. We learned the lady’s home furnace and AC system was falling apart. We called and said we’d like to help and put in a new system. We didn’t want any recognition. It just felt right to help. The paper wrote a story about it, and as a result we had customers calling saying they wanted to do business with us because they read about what we did for her.
17. Craig, what is the most difficult cost for you to control?
Right now, I would have to say equipment costs. We realize the manufacturers’ pricing has been on the rise because of raw materials like cooper.
18. Do you have a sales philosophy?
That question should go to Ron Schardt, our best salesman. His philosophy is sell high-end, hybrid systems or stay home.
19. One of the main complaints contractors have is low-priced competition. Does that affect you, too?
We can’t do anything about how or what our competitors sell. But we do control how and what we sell. Many of our customers tell us, “We want the best system you have.” With energy being so expensive, it’s very easy to show them how quickly the high-end systems pay back.
20. What’s the best thing about your competitors?
They advertise. We all benefit from better overall awareness. Then it’s up to us to differentiate our Bryant product line.