Contractor Insights: Atlantic Refrigeration

Contractor Insights: Atlantic Refrigeration

Dave Jones, Jr. has built his companies on lightning fast service.

Dave Jones, Jr., 48, founder and president of Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc., couldn’t stay away from the HVACR business.

He founded Atlantic Refrigeration in 2001, following a three-year break after he sold his first company —Jones Refrigeration & Air Conditioning — to a local utility.

Jones has been in the HVACR industry for 28 years. His father, the late Dave Jones, Sr., had started a company in the late 1950s, based in Wilmington, and that’s where Dave, Jr. got his start.

“I worked a lot with him as a teenager, however, I didn’t think I’d be heading in this direction later,” Jones recalls. After relocating to Lewes in my early 20s, I worked for Clyde and Loretta Seibert, who owned a really successful two-truck refrigeration and air conditioning business. I have many great memories working for them. They taught me how to work smarter and not waste time. They’re the two hardest working people I’ve ever known.” Lewes, DE is situated where Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, just a mile or so across from Cape May, NJ.

Atlantic Refrigeration serves a 50-mile area in and around southern Delaware, including Dover, and Ocean City, MD. Its refrigeration customer base includes single proprietors, stores, and chain supermarkets, restaurants, and the medical and poultry industries.

Fast response is a company watchword. Its stated mission is “to serve its customers with the extensive knowledge and expertise it has gained in the industry, while offering the finest in customer service.”

“Since my early days in the business, we were known as the commercial service company, by businesses that must have fast service,” Jones says. “We live in a beach area that’s very busy in the summer months; tourism’s a big industry here. Our customers need 24/7 service. They only have so many months to make a living.”

Atlantic Refrigeration’s annual sales are estimated at more than $5 million. The company supports approximately 40 employees, and operates 27 service vehicles.

Atlantic’s key employees have worked with each of Jones’s companies for as long as 20 years, and are a testament to employee loyalty and advancement. All of Jones’ technicians have earned, or are in the process of acquiring North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification.

Success Always Comes Down to Training
One model employee is service manager Jamie Nickerson, a Jones employee for 13 years. He started as a helper, became NATE-certified, and now gives back by teaching HVACR to vocational students in the evenings. Installation manager Mark Vicidomini has been with Jones’ companies for 20-years, and has earned a degree in refrigeration and air conditioning. Other employees that have been with Jones more than 15 years include Dee Dukes, Earleen Bunting, Donald Bunting, and Melvin Street.

Jones says certification is a key to attracting employees who want to improve their skills over time.

“Certification helps, because there is a definite need to have proper training,” Jones says. “We’re a non-union company, so we have to develop our own training methods. There used to be nothing, but now, we have a recognized technical program at our local junior college. This used to be a trade that people got into without any formal training. Now, you must have formal training to survive. There’s so much to keep current on with the new refrigerants and high efficiency equipment that we sell. We have to be able to educate our customers on all that is available and the benefits of what we provide.”

Jones says Atlantic Refrigeration’s success is based on good employees, employee retention through education, putting the customer first, and accountability to customers. It’s also helpful that he sees himself more as a coach than a boss.

“If you’ve got bad coaching, you’re not going to win many games,” Jones says. “I think the key is to hire good employees, but they have to know their limitations, and the coach has to provide the resources. I tell people here that they won’t know everything, no one does; but they should use the proper resources in making a decision. If you can provide resources, good things happen. That’s why you also need to establish good relationships with your suppliers and utilize all the help they can provide. Companies have to give employees room and opportunity to succeed.”

Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning’s preferred brands include Trane, Lennox, Florida Heat Pump, Copeland, Bally, Harford, Manitowoc, Perlick, Scotsman, and True.

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