Erik Bryan, Owner of Precision Air and Heating
Originally published: 01.01.15 by Terry Tanker
Erik Bryan, owner of Precision Air and Heating in Chandler, Ariz., discusses his service in the Marine Corps, his past experience as a construction contractor and working with family.
1. In which branch of the military did you serve?
I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served from 1991 to 1995.
2. How old were you when you joined?
I was 18 and was at boot camp only four days after I graduated from high school.
3. What attracted you to the service?
My dd always told me I should enlist. I didn't want to go to college; I wanted the physical and mental challenge of being a U.S. Marine.
4. Where were you stationed?
I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, Calif. First Marine Expeditionary Force (Mainside Camp Pendleton) and First SRIG (Surveillance Reconnaissance Intelligence Group / Special Forces) Los Flores Camp Pendleton.
5. What were your responsibilities?
I was Unit Diary Clerk Administration, which means I was responsible for pay and personnel data input, reviewing source documents and checking references to determine proper entry requirements, reporting transactions into the system via the unit diary and collecting and auditing feedback documents from the applicable system, among other things.
6. Your father was a role model — what two lessons did he teach you that were most memorable and that you carry with you today?
Hard work is by far the most important lesson my father taught me. He also taught me to have faith.
7. When you left the military what did you do?
My first job after I left the military was as a lot attendant at Linda Brock Auto Mall. I was only making minimum wage at the time.
8. You owned a construction company from 1997-1998 which failed. Why?
My old company, Redline Construction Company, failed because I was unable to show 4-year W2 work experience in the general contracting field. I had the knowledge and ability, just not the documentation to prove what I needed to get the proper license.
9. What did you learn from that experience that has helped you manage Precision Heating & Air?
I learned to keep working hard and never give up. I believe, as long as you keep moving forward and working hard, good things will happen.
10. You started as a service tech at Precision but quickly moved up — what did Paul Hardin see in you?
I don't want to speak on Paul's behalf, but it was clear I had a good business sense and great motivational leadership skills that helped the company grow.
11. Could you take us through your time at Precision?
As you said, I started out as a service technician, then moved to service manager, plumber, install manager, administration manager, then general manager, vice president and finally owner. There's not a single position at this company I haven't held at one point in time. The fact that I've worked every position has been a great advantage to me as an owner.
12. How does Precision overcome the negative stereotypes contractors seem to have?
We truly define our motto "People before Profits." We're extremely selective when hiring employees and like to make sure they have the same philosophies and integrity I have. We simply do our job right the first time.
13. Integrity, Quality and Trust are your company taglines. Would you tell us more about how you instill those qualities into your employees?
The first way we instill that is by example. The second way we instill it is by example. The third way we instill it is by example. We also require that our technicians have the highest certifications in the industry. All of our employees are certified by CrimShield, which is the only investigation company in the world that certifies individuals "crime-free" and allows others to verify these credentials. It's a requirement for our technicians to exceed our customers' expectations.
14. What type of training do you offer and require?
We require our employees to be EPA-, NATE-, Heat Pump-Certified. All certifications in our industry have continuing education courses available and we highly encourage our employees to take these courses so we can stay up to date with the latest industry knowledge.
15. You have several family members working with you — what special challenges does that present?
None. My family members are the hardest working people on my staff.
16. What did the military teach you that you were able to transfer into being a business owner?
The mentality was always the best in the Marine Corps. It was the motto: First to go, last to know. Lead by example. That type of mentality married up well with my personality. The reassurance that there were successful organizations as big as the military that shared the same philosophy was the edification I needed in the business world and it has proven to be very successful.
17. Trust and quality seem to be themes that run throughout your company — are these ideals you learned from you father, the military or both?
I learned these from both my father and the military, as well as my faith.
18. How do you (purposely) create a family work environment for employees?
First, I'm always approachable and accessible. I believe that's important to making employees feel welcome. Secondly, I treat everyone as if they're part of my family. Not all business owners are accessible to their employees and I think it's important they know they're valuable. The fact that my employees are as comfortable talking to me as they are their coworkers creates a sense of family.
19. What type of growth do you see for your company in 12-36 months?
We will most certainly attain standard growth at the very least. History at Precision indicates this to be around an 18 percent change in budget growth revenue. There are quite a few exciting projects I'm working on, and if these projects are completed within the next 12-36 months, growth could be substantial, if not industry-changing.
20. Where is the growth?
The growth will be everywhere, with our focus on our customer service because it is the a key component to every aspect of the business.