Managing Editor Heather Langone, interviewed Chad Collins, owner of Pride Plumbing Heating and Cooling. A 2022 Tops in Trucks Fleet Design Contest winner, Collins talked about the importance of process, mentorship, the power of branding, and a winning fleet design.
1. Who is your favorite superhero and why?
My late grandfather, Bodie. He owned Collins Drilling. I grew up watching him work and spent summers learning about hard work. He always kept his promises to people and would help anybody.
2. Do you hold season tickets to any sports teams in Colorado?
My wife and I go to games, but we do not yet hold season tickets. Soon, we plan on taking our employees to games – maybe the Colorado Rockies.
3. What is your favorite pastime?
A proud native of Colorado. I like to hunt, fish, snowboard, and spend time on our side-by-side RZR sport UTV
4. What is your preferred, bourbon, beer, or milkshake?
I do like the old fashion, Johnnie Walker, and a good chocolate malt.
5. What are you currently watching on Netflix?
This might be surprising, but I’ve never subscribed to Netflix. I read more than anything. Currently, I'm reading a good book called “Warrior” by Garrett White.
6. How did you get started in the HVACR industry?
Before I started Pride Plumbing, I worked at a company that cross trained me in HVACR. I picked it up quickly. The things I learned there, served me well when I started my own company.
7. Whose idea was it to call it Pride?
It was mine. I always wanted to run my own business, Then, in early 2000, while driving down the road, I saw a semi-trailer with the name Pride Transport on it, written in bold red and blue colors. It resonated with me. On February 16th, my birthday, I opened Pride Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling.
8. How have you overcome the challenge of finding service techs to grow your company?
In the beginning, I’d visit supply houses and talk to the techs. If they were interested, I’d take them out for coffee. I always had a pool of talented people. We don’t need to do that now. As soon as we rebranded and launched our wrapped fleet, that attracted many top technicians.
9. Recruiting top talent can be a challenge for some in the HVACR industry. Do you have tips on how you recruited?
Find at least one rock star technician. The word gets around. I have a top technician who generates $20-30,000 a week. Other techs want to work for me because of him. But it took time. I learned through trial and error. The best tip – increase your visibility in the community and think about branding. Having new fleet wrapped vehicles – a gamechanger.
10. What is the biggest lesson you've learned since starting your HVACR business?
Understanding the importance of process is huge. I love sharing this type of advice because it was a struggle for me. There were times I thought, “Is this the end? Am I done?” It was hard with all the moving parts; I was doing everything alone and had no management or procedural processes in place. Then, I sought out a mentor and coach. I had to sift through a lot of gimmicks, but if you can find the right person, coaching is worth it.
11. How have you sustained your business during the pandemic amid the shuttering and supply issues?
It didn’t slow down at all. The phones kept ringing. That's when we set sail! We did our fleet wraps at the end of 2020. It had been one of my biggest goals to wrap the vehicles. When we did, it gave us a huge boost. 2020 was one of our best years. But we already had such a visible presence in the community. That matters.
12. Do you ever accompany technicians on call in the field?
At the beginning, I did ride-alongs, so they would learn our process correctly. Back to process – we have a companywide standard of quality and consistency. We want all our customers to experience the same, consistent level of excellence. Occasionally, I'll go on a call just to check in and see how they're doing, it’s good for quality control, and I like to talk to the customers.
13. What's the most common customer feedback you get?
A lot of customers leave reviews. We also ask for reviews on every single job no matter what it is. Typically, the feedback is good. They say, we're friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. They also say we do quality work, at a reasonable price and we're on time. Some have said they won't use anyone else.
14. Has feedback caused you to pivot or continue to do things the way you have been?
Things are always changing, so we adjust. We also do role play in the shop with our technicians, as a form of training. It helps to prepare them for the customer interactions and assures that customers will have a valuable experience. We do it weekly, every Wednesday. Everybody really gets into it.
15. Where do you see the company in three years?
There are several locations where we want to open. Denver's looking promising to set up shop. We're number one in our area, but our goal is to expand.
16. How has the fleet design marketing been performing vs. other types of marketing?
In our service area, competitors don’t typically wrap their vehicles.This is our number one marketing investment, it’s really paying off.
17. Who is your local distributor and how have they supported Pride since starting out?
Winair is our distributor. Robert is our account manager. He has been with us since day one. We have been an authorized dealer with them for several years and now co-op with them.
18. What are the top 3 brands you sell?
We sell Trane, American Standard, and Mitsubishi. We are an authorized dealer for American Standard and Mitsubishi.
19. Do you specialize in any particular type of system install or replacement?
Yes, we do a lot of Rinnai combi-units, tankless Rinnai water heaters, and we do a lot of Mitsubishi mini-splits.
20. Do you offer maintenance plans for customers and did that help you through the pandemic?
Yes, it’s helped us tremendously. Everybody should offer maintenance plans. During slower times it evened out our business revenue, and you can keep your techs busy and get them in to see customers.