We sat down with Victor Rancour, owner of Absolute Airflow Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Westminster, Calif., a 2021 Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest winner. Rancour discussed the importance of training, growing his business and his winning fleet design.
1. When did you get started in the industry?
I’ve only been in HVACR for six years and knew nothing about it when I started. In March 2015, I started with a company as a technician, and they trained me. I quickly became the top selling technician in the country.
2. Wow! What did that lead to?
In 2017, I was recruited by another company and paid a lot of money to go run their business. The owner wasn’t around — he was living in Hawaii, and I was running his business in California, making him rich. I didn’t really see him, and he had little involvement in the business.
3. So, you did it all?
Yes. I was the service manager and sales manager; I was out in the field and running all the sales calls … it was insane. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and decided to start my own company.
4. What was that like?
We’ve been in business about two and a half years now and it’s taken off exponentially.
5. Was there a learning curve to being an owner?
Yeah, I had no idea. You don’t realize … obviously, I was running the other guy’s company, but I wasn’t doing, I wasn’t the call center rep. I wasn’t a marketer; I wasn’t the installer. The first couple of months we just worked out of a parking lot. We didn’t even have a shop. Within four months we had 10 employees. So, I’m learning how to deal with employees and learning all the laws and how to pay them and how to do all this stuff. There was a lot of the backend stuff I didn’t really know.
6. How do you explain your fast growth?
A lot of it is my training background. I became a good salesman, and I was training a lot of guys for one of the biggest companies in the country. So, I had a good process behind how we enter homes, how we deal with customers … the customer service aspect of it. And then it just took off as we’re providing high level service.
7. What about marketing?
A lot of people followed us through social media, and I got a lot of employees who wanted to work for me. I started a marketing company out of necessity because I felt like the marketing companies in the home service business weren’t great. That took off fast too, doing my own marketing for the business, and I’ve been able to grow it exponentially without having to deal with marketing companies.
8. Do you still get out in the field?
I haven’t been in a customer’s home for a year now.
9. Where’s your focus now?
I stepped away from Absolute Airflow and I’m focusing on my marketing venture right now. I still check in with the team, but I have a staff that runs the company now. I’ve also started a training company and I’m building out a training app right now.
10. What’s the app going to do?
Training for HVACR and plumbing. Imagine a HVACR technician is in the field, he wants to sell a part, but he doesn’t know how to sell the part. He can go on the app, and we’ll have a video on how to explain it to a customer, how to make them want to buy it and then how to install it. And they’ll have the corresponding video for every repair you can think of. It’s pretty in-depth.
11. What’s the most important aspect of your job?
Recruiting. Because I’m the face of the business, I’m the one who’s getting people in the door at this point. People want to come work. People know me all over the country now, so I got people that are moving here to come work for me.
12. And you help with training?
Yes. I still help on training days. We train all our guys from scratch. I don’t really like to take our technicians from other places. I built out a training facility for my employees to come and learn from me.
13. Has that helped with recruitment?
Yes, especially right now with COVID-19 and all these other companies not hiring … people might’ve gone and been a server or bartender. Well, that job’s not applicable now. So, they’re coming into train and I’m teaching them. Now they’re going to be loyal, they’re not going to go somewhere else after you teach them.
14. How important is company culture?
It’s massive. I’m 32, and everybody in my business is also young and it’s an exciting place to work. We do a lot of events. For example, I just got my whole staff tickets to go see Toby Keith this weekend and my install staff is going paint balling as well. There’s a lot we try to do to make everybody happy and want to work here. The number one factor for our growth is that employees that work here, they love it.
15. What makes your company different?
We’re young. I know how to get guys engaged, how to get young guys … what they want, what their needs are, how to work their schedules and make sure they’re happy. That’s given us a big competitive advantage.
16. How do you manage the growth?
I’ve tapered it back. Me stepping aside a little bit has allowed the team to catch up. Now we can do $30 million without really anything else and I’ll probably let my team kind of work the numbers from there. Then, as we grow next year, I’ll bring in more technicians before summer. But as we head into next year, we’ll be in more of an acquisition mode.
17. Have you made acquisitions in the past?
We made our first acquisition last year and we’ll be making more acquisitions going forward so that we’ll be able to bring on bigger databases to capture more clients.
18. What made you decide to rebrand your marketing?
I got my original logo off Fiverr.com or something like that. I was about a little over a year in a business, and we’d taken off like crazy. Started from scratch, grew to a $5 million business in the first year. I thought everything’s good. I thought our logo was good. Then I ran into Dan Antonelli from Kickcharge Creative at Service World Expo at the end of 2008. And he’s says, ‘Hey man, I’ve been following you on social media … Looks like you’re growing fast but your logo is terrible. Let me know when you’re ready to get a real brand.’
19. How did you react?
We had just met in passing. And I was like, ‘Oh, whatever dude.’ And then a couple of months went by and I was like, you know what, I want to grow to be a hundred million dollar business pretty quick. I want to make sure it has the right look. I worked with Dan, and we went back and forth, and it worked out. We have become good friends after that.
20. What was the process like?
It was fast. I trusted Dan. I gave him an idea of what I wanted. He had some ideas and within three weeks we came up with the design. It was just me and him. We hashed it out and then he made it and the trucks look great.