Troy Meachum, president of ACR Supply Co.
Originally published: 01.01.18 by HVACR Business Staff
We sat down with Troy Meachum, president of ACR Supply Co. in North Carolina. Recently, Meachum became president of Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI). Meachum discussed industry challenges, the importance of providing training and how to recruit and educate the next generation.
1. How did you get started in this industry?
My father started our company in 1977 when I was 16. He had contemplated going into business for himsel for a while, and the opportunity presented itself. I started with him in 1980 when I got out
of school with a degree in HVAC, and opened up our first branch location in 1984.
2. How did that business evolve?
In 1997, a real paradigm shift happened inside the organization. My dad and I, along with Lee, our vice president, sat down in a conference room to decide the direction of the company. Lee challenged me about where we were going to take the company. That’s when we developed our first mission statement to make sure we focused on building a healthy work environment.
3. When did you take over the business?
Slowly but surely, I got into a phase of life where I could buy the company from my dad. That was almost 10 years ago now. I signed a document with a bank, and two months later the great recession hit.
4. Did you have any regrets?
It was one of those moments where you just keep your head down and keep grinding away. Honestly, there was a lot of other personal stuff going on at that same time — my dad had a heart attack and right about the same time, my wife got diagnosed with cancer. It was a pretty tough time, but I call it character building moments. We persevered and made it through.
5. What’s your management philosophy?
It’s servant leadership. A lot of organizations do top-down management, but we try to do bottom-up and really serve our people. We love them unconditionally, but we also hold them accountable.
6. What’s been your proudest achievement so far?
Making a difference in our team members’ lives. We’ve built a culture where people want to get up every day and come to work. If your people aren’t growing, your company’s not growing.
7. What do you view as the most important aspect of your job?
Developing people is the most important thing I can do as a leader.
8. How do you develop your people?
We have a three-year leadership development program called Future Leaders. To get into the program you have to be nominated by your leader, and then you have to write an essay to me about why you want to grow as a leader.
9. How do you communicate effectively with so many people?
We have a communication grid. We have a Wednesday morning coffee call every other week at 6:50 a.m. We have a company intranet, shared calendars and, obviously, email. We also have a group text set up where I can communicate directly with every single one of our team members.
10. What’s a big challenge in the industry now?
With all the changes coming about in e-commerce and this looming threat of the Amazons of the world, contractors have to make a decision about whether they want to support local distribution, who’s going to provide them support.
11. What kind of training does ACR Supply provide to contractors?
We have the only LG Certified lab in North Carolina where we do commercial and residential classes. We have a marketing calendar for the whole year that lists the training available to our people and also our contractors each month.
12. How do you promote your training programs?
We advertise on social media, as well as use email distribution lists. Most of it’s done through our outside sales team, though.
13. What do you see successful contractors doing that set them apart?
Successful contractors focus on their people and their culture. It’s kind of simple, but those are the ones that differentiate themselves when they run a professional organization. They focus on growing their people and making it more than just a job. Those are the companies that separate themselves.
14. Do you offer any specific tools to help contractors?
We have a fairly advanced e-commerce solution. It’s right at 4 percent of our business right now, overall, and we’re not in the equipment business.But it really comes back to training. All the education we provide to our customers drives their callbacks and their profitability per job.
15. Where do you see the most significant growth?
We see a lot of growth coming in the commercial variable refrigerant flow (VRF), as well as building automation and controls.
16. How do you measure success?
Success is about the culture and about the people. We conduct a culture survey and that’s how we know if we’re doing well or not. We focus on the five Ps: purpose, profit, people, process and progress.
17. What does the future hold for HVACR distributors in general?
We must focus on attracting these rock star Millennials and help them understand this is a valid, highly technical industry. This next generation is going to solve the whole e-commerce problem. If we’re not bringing value to the supply chain then we’ll be eliminated.
18. What’s the best way to bridge that generation gap?
One of the main reasons Millennials leave jobs is because their bosses allow dysfunction and incompetence to go on around them, and it’s demoralizing. So you have to create a work culture where Millennials can thrive and feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Millennials love making a difference in the world.
19. What do you hope to accomplish as HARDI president?
We need to focus on creating an industry and organization that attracts these rock stars. If you’re not building a work culture that attracts and draws the right people, then you need to do something different, because apparently what you’re doing is not working.
20. Who’s been your biggest role model?
Dave Ramsey is, from a leadership and financial perspective, a great role model. Through his EntreLeadership and Financial Peace University courses, I have been plugged in with his organization for more than 10 years. His materials are phenomenal.