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79 Years of Commercial HVAC Excellence

March 26, 2014
There’s a company in Chicago that has stood the test of time, endured changes over the generations, and retained a distinctive identity of its own: Air Comfort.

Last month, the spotlight was on Advent Air Conditioning. This month, we feature our 2014 Commercial HVAC Contractor of the Year: Air Comfort, Chicago, IL.

Air Comfort opened its doors in 1935, as key players with Dr. Willis Carrier, who had come to Chicago looking for a way to distribute his air conditioning system far and wide. He found the engineers who had just started Air Comfort, enlisted their help, and away they went.

James J. Smerz joined in 1945 as a project engineer. He rose to become executive vice president/co-owner. His son, James T. Smerz bought the company and took it to greater prominence throughout the 1970s and 1980s. James T. Smerz died unexpectedly in the early 1990s, and his wife Nancy took the reins and guided the company through a difficult turnaround. Nancy is a board member today, and son Tim Smerz is president. Other key personnel are Lynette Mantey, CFO/treasurer; Jim Bartolotta, executive vice president; Jack Baer, vice president, construction.

Air Comfort would have failed without a team attitude.

“Our success is determined in large part by how well we work as a team," Tim says. "Whether it's service and construction, or the technicians working with the sales engineers, our ability to work together is what results in the best solutions for our clients.”

Air Comfort's expertise includes sheet metal fabrication — may there always be some who retain this craft in-house — building automation —a service you must be able to offer in commercial HVAC today — energy recovery, for a customer base eager to save energy dollars, preventive maintenance (which keeps customer close), and the always best practice of Design/Build.

Air Comfort has made it through some hard times. Today, all systems are running hot, and there's still a culture of caring for employee well-being.

Read more about Air Comfort here. Ron Rajecki has written a fine article about what they do and how they do it. And then, if you think you have what it takes, nominate your commercial HVAC business for next year's Commercial Contractor of the Year. SEE THE GUIDELINES BELOW.

I await your call when you "got a minute." You can reach me at 216-931-9732.