Jackie Rainwater, a legendary HVAC industry service pioneer known for building the service agreement base of Peachtree Heating & Air Conditioning of Atlanta from 4,000 to 18,000, and who later served as an industry consultant, author and seminar presenter, died on December 28 at the age of 76 in Social Circle, Ga.
Jackie Rainwater was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2002.
Rainwater studied mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, and later worked for Lennox Industries for 21 years, where he rose to become Southeast Division Sales Manager.
In 1982, he left Lennox to join Shumate Air Conditioning and Heating, where he and owner Harold Shumate formed the Shumate Energy Improvement Division, which realized 22% net profit in its first year.
Rainwater's method of selling service agreements was based on a 34-point residential installation checklist, a quality improvement process, and training programs for service technicians that went beyond the technical aspects of running a business.
Rainwater joined another industry trailblazer, Ron Smith, in 1988, at Smith's Service America national franchising business.
“It was under Ron Smith’s tutelage that I really became convinced about the importance of maintenance agreements,” Rainwater said, in an interview for his Hall of Fame induction. “Service contracts were a way to help level the playing field for contractors with regard to the seasonality of the contracting business.”
(See Ron Smith's tribute to Jackie Rainwater below.)
While with Service America, Rainwater worked out a plan to consolidate service companies in 10 major US cities, with the ultimate intention to go public. He left Service America in 1989, and he and partner Frank Jones purchased Peachtree Heating and Air Conditioning of Atlanta, and built it up from $4 million in revenue to $18 million through maintenance agreement sales and acquisitions. Peachtree was acquired by Service Experts in 1997. Rainwater and Jones stayed on until 2002, and began careers as industry consultants.
Rainwater was an active member of Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
Jackie Rainwater is survived by his wife of 56 years, Carol Cooper Rainwater, son Kevin, daughter Julie Mayfield, four grandchildren and a large extended family.
An online guest registry can be found at www.stewartfh.com
Read Jackie Rainwater's Hall of Fame induction story by Mike Weil, which provided source material for this article.
RON SMITH REMEMBERS JACKIE RAINWATER
In the early 1960’s I worked for a heating and air conditioning contractor in Ft. Myers, FL before I founded my own HVAC contracting company in the same city. The company I worked for was a Lennox dealer and the owner sent me to the Lennox facility in Atlanta, GA for a week of training. It was there that I first met Jackie Rainwater who was employed by Lennox.
But, it was in the 1980’s before Jackie and I started to really know one another after I had relocated to the Atlanta area with my HVAC national franchising company. He was at that time working for large HVAC contractor in Atlanta where Jackie built and managed the residential retail sales activities. Eventually he resigned from that company and joined me in our franchising company where Jackie and I worked closely together. Later I sold the franchising company and Jackie began performing consulting service with contractors.
Later Jackie took over the management of a large well known HVAC residential retail company in Atlanta where he had an ownership position. Not long after that I accepted the position of COO of an HVAC national consolidation contracting company. When starting that job I was surprised to quickly find out that one of the companies the consolidation company owned was Jackie’s company. So, Jackie and I were working together again and did so until the consolidation company was sold.
He and I were friends up until his death which occurred on December 28.
Here is what I know and remember about Jackie:
- He could be described as a “gentle giant”.
- He was very knowledgeable of our industry.
- He was a man of integrity.
- He himself was well respected and he respected others.
- He was a real family man that loved being with family.
- He knew how to have fun and sometimes did so.
- He was a member of the Contracting Business Hall of Fame.
- He attended First Baptist Church of Social Circle, GA.
- He was very involved in his community serving it in numerous ways, including the Rotary Club, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Development Authority, the Better Hometown and the Business Development Committee.
We are and will be missing Jackie Rainwater.