You could easily lose count of the many HVAC contracting business owners that have been put on a path to success through the help of the
industry’s quality business consultants.
From profitable service pricing, to business valuation, to exit strategies and more, the best consultants always offer the best advice.
Since 1995, Vicki LaPlant has been a leading consultant to the heating and air conditioning industry. She’s also a frequent guest presenter at educational events. HVAC business owners who realize the value of trade shows, and attend events regularly have likely listened to a presentation by Vicki and her husband, John LaPlant. Vicki has also been a Contracting Business columnist for more than a decade.
It’s our pleasure to announce Vicki LaPlant as our 2017 Hall of Fame inductee, for a lifetime of service to the HVAC industry.
Vicki LaPlant’s entire career has been based in education. She earned degrees in English and education from Dallas Baptist University, taught high school English for four years, and then, in search of a change, she joined Lennox in 1979, to develop technical training manuals. Next was her appointment as manager of the Education Department for Job Related Training. Vicki made an indelible mark on the industry with Lennox’ Dealer Marketing Advisor (DMA) program, which she created and was director of, before being promoted to vice president of dealer development.
She was Lennox's youngest vice president and its first female VP.
The DMA program existed to transform the manufacturer/dealer relationship from a supplier/buyer arrangement into more of a consultative relationship, where the manufacturer’s success is tied to improving the performance of the dealer base. She was later promoted to Lennox’s vice president of
approach to the residential replacement market. People had to learn how to market and sell differently, because they were now marketing to consumers, not to home builders. And, we saw during this time the growth of the service agreement, or maintenance contract.”
John and Vicki are now business coaches for the Service Nation Alliance. They continue to consult with contractors out of Service Nation’s home office in Flower Mound, Tex.
“Service Nation Alliance is the only company John and I would have sold our business too, because we love working with contractors,” Vicki says. “They are salt-of-the-earth people, the backbone of this country.”
Vicki LaPlant is also very committed to the Joseph Groh Foundation, which provides assistance to tradespeople who have been struck down by crippling accidents and are unable to continue working.
HERE ARE SOME COMMENTS FROM VICKI'S INDUSTRY COLLEAGUES:
Larry Taylor, former owner of Air Rite (now Crawford Services); board member, Service Roundtable, past chairman of Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
Member, Contracting Business Hall of Fame:
"Knowing Vicki since the early days of 'Focus on the Future,' I have found her to be a stable and leading force in the HVACR industry. From her visions toward development of marketing, management, leadership, visioning, industry involvement, consumer engagement training and the hundreds of items it takes to manage and develop a successful business, she along with her husband, John, have helped thousands of people and businesses.
"Not only has she been an activist for businesses, she has volunteered thousands of hours working with industry associations such as Women in HVACR, Service Roundtable/Service Nation, ACCA and the Joseph Groh Foundation. Vicki and her husband John continue their mission of teaching, training and developing leaders while trying to slow down and enjoy their family."
Matt Michel, CEO, Service Nation, Inc. Member, Contracting Business Hall of Fame.
"Vicki made an indelible mark on the industry with Lennox’ Dealer Marketing Advisor (DMA) program, which she created and was Director of, before being promoted again to Vice President of Dealer Development. The fundamental concept of the DMA program was to transform the manufacturer to contractor relationship from supplier/buyer to a consultative relationship where the manufacturer’s success is tied to improving the performance of the dealer base.
"The DMA program included 40 professional field consultants assigned to participating dealers, staff for customized program development, buying group services and incentives, operations best practices, and process assistance and support. As a result of the program’s success, Vicki was named Vice President of Marketing for Lennox where she supervised a team of more than 80 and a budget of more than $12 million.
"In the mid-1990s, Vicki left Lennox and formed Vital Learning Experiences (VLE) where she provided sales, marketing, financial management, business planning training programs along with exit strategy consulting services coupled with business valuation documentation for thousands of contractors. VLE worked through HVACR distributors and manufacturers across North America."
Kathie and Don Todd, Central Oregon Heating & Cooling:
"Vicki La Plant came to our attention in 2002. Tall, with panache and big white hair, she was impressive. She is confident, knowledgeable and speaks in an authoritative soft southern Texas drawl. While teaching a class on financials (offered through our distributor), Don was fascinated by the information she shared and told me I had to go listen to her. Our distributor then participated in a one-on-one consulting program facilitated by Vicki and John La Plant for select companies – we were one of them.
"Vicki’s coaching allowed us to understand our industry better. She has the ability and insight to show us how and what we needed to do going forward — then she held us accountable. We have been very good friends ever since. Though her and John’s guidance, we have benefitted immensely.
"Over all of these years, one of the most important attributes that Vicki possessed is selflessness. She is totally devoted and committed to her chosen career. Her degree is in education and she has used that repeatedly to create training materials and seminars for our HVAC industry. Her specialty is helping support people to become what they want to be; be it personal and/or their business development."
Kevin Frump, general manager, Iliana Heating & Air Conditioning, CB's 2015 Residential Contractor of the Year:
"I met Vicki before I was even in the HVAC industry. In fact, a case could be made that she is one of the reasons I am where I am today, not to mention my company. It was a class that Vicki was leading with John at our local Armstrong supplier. It was Business 101 for HVAC owners and it helped me see the potential of the industry and company in something that I was able to understand – numbers.
"If I had to identify one thing that Vicki LaPlant is able to do better than almost anyone else I have met, it is taking a concept that may be abstract or difficult to understand and making into discrete, actionable steps that are simple to understand. She doesn’t make it easy, though. She challenges you. She pushes you to improve yourself and your company. She isn’t happy with the status quo. And just when you think you’ve done everything she’s asked of you, she comes back with a list of 20 other things you can do to keep getting better.
"She is always willing to help, always willing to share information, always willing to do what it takes for others to succeed. I’ve been on phone calls with Vicki where she has found a quiet corner at a busy trade show or conference to do an advisory board call or respond to a question. She puts others before herself in all aspects of her life and that is refreshing in the world we live in today. She challenges us to always better ourselves, to enter awards and contests I never would have guessed we could compete in and we’ve won with her help and guidance."
Jacki Bradbury-Guerrero, co-owner, director marketing, Bradbury Brothers. Contracting Business 2015 Woman of the Year.
"Vicki LaPlant has been an inspiration to all women in the HVAC field (and men also) through her passion and encouragement. As a past winner of HVAC Woman of the Year, I can attest to the fact that not only does she “know her stuff” but she knows how to share it in a way the enthusiastically motivates those who want . . . to improve and excel.
"The articles that she has written for your magazine have always been a highlight to me as I peruse the contents each month. They are always topics that I know I can apply to my business. They are well worth the time I spend reading them.
"She is always available for emails or phone calls. She is visible at most contractor gatherings and appears so excited to hear how you are doing and sharing new ideas."
Mindy Krueger, Krueger Heating, Air Conditioning, Geothermal
"Growing up, my parents encouraged me to be all that I can be. They told me I could do whatever I wanted to do if I set my mind to it. Even as a girl, I could succeed at anything. In my late 20’s that goal was to be a business owner in very much, a man’s world. Raised by a father who was the city’s most renowned heating and air conditioning expert, the mechanical field was second nature for me. But owning a business that was employed by all men was far from the norm and even further from easy. Very few women had ventured into mechanical contracting – and succeeded.
"Vicki LaPlant was not only successful, she became a role model for women to follow - women like me. Her Texas heritage exudes in her passion, loyalty and never give up (or in) attitude. I speak for hundreds of women and even men when I say Vicki LaPlant is not only a mentor but our friend. She knows heating and air conditioning and she knows business. Most importantly she knows what it takes to succeed and she encourages me and so many others like the parent we so often still need; encouraging us, teaching us and making us believe we have what it takes to be the best at what we do. She’s earned the respect of her piers; she’s earned everything she’s achieved."