Jeff Tauzin: Learning from Experience
Originally published: 06.01.18 by Pete Grasso
Jeff Tauzin was born in the small town of Thibodaux, La. and grew up very active in athletics and grew up riding motorcycles. As a child, it wasn’t really his plan to run an HVACR contracting company.
“My passion was always for motocross,” Jeff says. “My childhood dream was to be a professional motocross racer.”
But of course, things change. His grandfather, Lloyd Tauzin, owned Tauzin’s Refrigeration where his father and brothers worked — and where he also got his start in this industry.
“I can remember going on servicecalls with my grandpa early on as a kid handing him tools,” he says. “In the mid 80s, my dad and grandpa had a falling out and my dad ended up working in the maintenance department at a manufacturing plant in Thibodaux.”
During that time, Jeff’s father did some HVACR work on the weekends and he would go along to help and make extra money. Toward the end of the 80s, his dad decided to start his own business. Jeff was still in high school and, like many who started in this business, continued to work with him part time when he could.
“After I graduated high school, I went to school for mechanical engineering, but I never earned my degree,” Jeff recalls. “My dad was basically running a two-truck company and I decided I had enough of college and wanted to go all in with his HVACR business.”
Title: Vice President, Team Leader
Company:Doug's Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
Year Founded: 1988
Headquarters: Thibodaux, La.
Work Performed: Residential HVACR, Plumbing, Electrical & Light Commercial
No. of Employees: 22
Annual Revenue: $4 million
Vendor-Partners: Carrier Enterprise, Coburns, Johnstone Supply
In 2004, Jeff committed himself fully to both the business and the industry. As a self-learner, Jeff spent as much time as he could reading books and online articles, attending training classes and doing whatever he could to get better.
“Unfortunately, the best education I received was my hands on attempt at actually becoming a manager,” he says. “I say ‘unfortunately’ because learning through experience comes with the pain of making many mistakes.”
Nevertheless, Jeff learned from his mistakes and continued to grow in his role with the company as a manager. Doug’s Refrigeration & Air Conditioning prides itself as a customer service, sales and marketing company first. Its primary focus is residential, but in recent years they’ve expanded the commercial side of the business.
He quickly learned that to say “no” to a given job might mean the possibility of losing out on other projects that customer might have.
“We do plumbing, refrigeration, HVAC, electrical, generators and everything in between,” Jeff says. “We’re in such a small market, it’s really difficult to say no to someone.”
As Jeff grew into his role, his father made the unique decision to continue to work as a service technician while leaving Jeff to manage the company. And, his learning has continued. Jeff’s focus is on learning all he can from other top contractors and implementing those best practices at Doug’s.
“It seems to have worked out well for the both of us,” Jeff says. “My dad gets to fix stuff and I’m able to grow the company with a great group of people along the way.”
Harkening back to his childhood dreams of racing motocross, Jeff is competitive by nature. He likes to win.
“Exceeding goals is always rewarding,” he says. “The everyday challenges are probably the most rewarding thing about running a company. I thrive on overcoming adversity.”
Those everyday challenges are constantly changing, which is no surprise to anyone who runs a business. The one thing that stays consistent, however, is the struggle to keep growing.
When Jeff went through a divorce, he allowed the company to fall into financial crisis.
“I remember trying to pay $400,000 in bills with $100,000,” he says. “That experience made me a better manager and business owner.”
Doug’s was on the verge of looking for outside capital or filling for bankruptcy, which made Jeff realize just how fragile things can be and that you always have to keep your finger on the pulse of the business. Jeff believes addressing industry challenges is a lot like hitting a baseball.
“You have to study the pitcher’s tendencies and practice hitting all the pitches,” he says. “You have to be ready to react and take action in an exponentially changing marketplace. What worked well last month may not work well next quarter.”
Today, the business is thriving. In five years, Jeff believes the company will branch out with satellite locations in South Louisiana and generate gross revenue of $10 million per year or more.