20 Questions

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20 Questions

20 Questions with Mark Hyde

Co-owner of Hydes Air Conditioning, Heating and Electrical

Originally published
Originally published: 1/7/2024

Terry Tanker sat down with Mark Hyde, one of the three brothers who own Hydes Air Conditioning, Heating and Electrical in Indio, California. The two discussed operating a family business, the pending refrigerant change, company culture, and being awarded American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning’s Building a Higher Standard Award.

1.  Where would we find you Friday night after work?

Out on a date with my wife. We’ve been married for 36 years and we work together but we still find time to go out to dinner or a sporting event. We’ve got a new hockey arena and we’re big fans of the team.

2.  What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m the only naturalized American citizen in our family. My parents were immigrants. They came to North America from England and Scotland in the mid-fifties and landed in Canada and that’s where my brothers were born. They moved to the States in 1960, and a year later I appeared.

3.  Did you go to school to be a sportswriter?

I got started in high school on our school paper. My brother played college football so there was an interest there. And I went to Cal State Fullerton and was in their journalism program and if I had entered that field, I would have tried to cover sports.

4.  How did Hydes come to be in 1972?

My dad was an engineer on the Apollo space program. He grew tired of government contract work and started an appliance repair business. He also sold new appliances. He was always looking for the next best thing. My two brothers worked around the office and did service calls. Then my dad moved about a hundred miles from where we were in Orange County in 1980. My oldest brother and I stayed behind and we ran the appliance business, but we eventually moved to the desert too. Because of the heat, we added AC sales to the business – a very humble beginning.

5.  What does your typical work week look like?

In addition to my finance obligations, I try to add to the company culture and check in with the office and personnel, then down to business. Since I’m handling the financial end of the company, I usually start with the prior day’s tickets and then tackle payables, etc. 

6.  What’s the largest challenge of managing a family business?

I think managing the third generation is the most difficult because the dynamic changes from brothers to nephews and cousins. Over time the brothers built trust in one another and we relied on each other to manage each end of the business. It could be sales, finance, or service. The third gen now has to earn and build that trust.

7.  What is your present-day business mix percentage?

The bulk of our business is residential HVAC. We do a little bit of light commercial. And we are working on growing our electrical business.

8.  What aspect of your job is most satisfying?

I enjoy trying to add to the culture of our company, which is just an opportunity you get to influence people positively. And, to try and create an atmosphere where employees can be successful. 

9.  Who was your mentor?

My dad.  Just watching him. He had the vision when he left the aerospace industry and started the appliance business and then the HVAC company. He tried building homes and buying real estate. He was always willing to try something new.  

10.  What is the best business advice you’ve received?

To move to performance pay.  I know it’s nothing new, but it’s been long-lasting and changed our business significantly for the better. My brother loves to tell the story of installs that used to take eight to ten hours. Under performance pay the job is done in three or four. 

11.  What leadership lesson do you wish you would have learned earlier?

Having a vision for the company and knowing where you’re going with the ability to communicate it. Second, the ability to embrace change. We’re a heavily regulated industry, especially in California so we have to embrace the changing business landscape, changing employees and business attitudes. 

12.  How has Hydes built a great company culture?

For many years our tagline was “a family you can trust”, and if you’re going to say that you better mean that. We work on this and nurture it.

13.  Did you have your service techs and CSRs switch jobs?

That was a while ago, but yes. Collectively, they had to understand the challenges of each position. An angry customer on the phone, or a 130-degree attic — both are challenging. CSRs go through a lot of training to handle calls with the care they need. And our techs go through a lot of technical training. Both are different, and neither is more important than the other.

14.  Hydes recently won American Standard’s, “Building A Higher Standard” Award. Was that a 2023 goal?

American Standard has great products and we know because we install them here in the desert where we have extreme conditions. We’ve worked with them and our distributor Howard Industries for over 25 years and it was an honor to be recognized. 

15.  What do you love most about your company?

I love the opportunity to work with my family, especially my wife and son, as well as being a positive influence for our 50 employees.

16.  What company goals have you established for 2024?

Building up our middle management team. My wife has really been stressing this and moving us toward this goal. It’s easy for us to be narrowly focused on the day-to-day. We want to develop the next level of leaders at Hydes because we have three owners in their sixties.

17.  How will your team navigate the upcoming refrigerant changes?

Our transition to the new refrigerants will look a lot like the first transition we had from R22 to R410a. We will try to maintain a stock of all the refrigerants the manufacturers use, but ultimately it is our job to educate our customers in the direction that best suits them.

18.  How has technology aided the company’s success?

The equipment we install and the tools we use to diagnose problems have all become more sophisticated. Technician’s tools have become digital but the ability to understand what those tools are telling you remains the key. The same is true with the integrated software we use in the office.

19.  How are you mentoring rising talent and/or training techs?

Every week we have install and service training as well as online coaching through Zoom. Our service manager will also review issues from the previous week and share ideas and troubleshoot calls that they’re getting on. Techs can also become NATE certified as well as earn certifications from training offered by American Standard. 

20.  What is next for Hydes Air Conditioning?

We need to navigate our next generation of managers and figure out how that will work. We’ve been in this community for 40 years, and we have an excellent reputation. Our names and pictures have been on our service vans for a long time. And we want to continue to provide a great work atmosphere.

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