Contractors to Watch

June 1, 2012
Successful commercial HVAC contractors look ahead, adapt to circumstances, and explore new ideas. Here’s a look at some industry leaders that refuse to be caught napping.

CB readers are interested in seeing how their colleagues are adapting to changing markets and trends. So, we checked in with some leading HVAC commercial contractors to learn what they’re up to. These leaders are outgoing, inventive, and resourceful. They’re taking advantage of every opportunity, in every business climate.

Constant Contact Counts
Adrian Mechanical Services, Adrian, MI, was one of the first Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA) STAR Qualified Contractors in 2004. It achieved GreenSTAR status in 2012, for its commitment to sustainable mechanical service and energy conservation. President Todd Carver is Adrian’s tireless ambassador. He keeps Adrian Mechanical in the game through constant interaction with customers and prospects.

“I sell our company in every way I can, any time I can,” Carver shares, “through a variety of community activities and social events. I’m out there, meeting and seeing my customers, and prospects, and letting them know me through those interactions,” he says. Adrian Mechanical’s recent projects include an inpatient healthcare facility, a new student union facility at Sienna Heights University, and a school performing arts center.

Training for the Future
May 31st was graduation day for Coastal Mechanical’s “All Florida Apprenticeship” Class of 2012. Upon completion of the 4-year/8,000 hour program, apprentices are nationally recognized as skilled journeymen in sheet metal, pipefitting, plumbing, electrical, or HVAC. Leaders at Coastal, Melbourne, FL, took training matters to heart and in-house, after it realized there was a looming shortage of skilled labor, and limited craft training available across the state.

“Our apprenticeship program secures the future of Coastal Mechanical. It ensures our employees are the best trained, most qualified craftsmen out there,” says PJ Goodwin, president. Coastal Mechanical is the 2009 Contracting Commercial Contractor of the Year. Read the Coastal story at

Devoting Energy to Energy
Crockett Facilities Services (CFS), Bowie, MD, provides building operations and maintenance, mechanical contracting, and HVAC services to more than 11 million sq.ft. of commercial and government buildings around the Washington, D.C. Beltway. In March of 2012, CFS earned an MSCA GreenSTAR designation for environmental excellence.

Energy services is CFS’s newest initiative. Mark Crockett, vice president, says CFS wants to be a single-source provider of HVAC, energy and facilities management solutions.

“We want to be their energy partner. We service equipment, but can also provide assessments of customer’s facilities and provide them with energy conservation opportunities that can help them save money.”

CFS starts with a American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Level-1 audit, and includes an assessment of existing maintenance programs, building usage, and condition of existing equipment.

A Symphony of Comfort
Contracting’s 2011 Commercial Contractor of the Year, Enterprise HVAC Service and Control, Twinsburg, OH, occupies a rarefied niche in the commercial HVAC world: Enterprise does no new construction work, and the focus is never on selling equipment. Instead, the company operates exclusively in the existing building service market, and assesses and analyzes customers’ needs before presenting the solutions that will address them.

“We know the steps our customers need to take to get their buildings to where they want them to be,” says President Richard (Dick) Starr, LEED AP. “We always know the next step, and we’re there for our customers when they’re ready to take it.”

The company takes a “360-degree view” of a building, thanks to its expertise in three key areas: mechanical systems, controls, and air and water distribution.

“What we’ve seen is that most contractors simply rush to address the one area they know,” Starr says. “We like to think we bring all three together, like a fine orchestra.” Read about Enterprise at

Experience, Marketing, Healthcare Bring Work
In 2011, Lake Mechanical Contractors, Eustis, FL, enjoyed a 48% revenue increase over the previous year. President Tom Sherman attributes the increase to relationship building, a ramped-up marketing outreach, several significant projects, and Lake Mechanical’s experience in the healthcare sector. Recent projects include the Halifax Medical Center, the Peabody Orlando hotel, and Trinity Hospital in New Port Richey. Current projects include the Four Seasons Hotel at Disney World.

Sherman will be a featured speaker during Mechanical Systems WEEK, Sept. 19-21, Schaumburg, IL (see

Career Paths, Not 'Jobs'
TDIndustries has been chugging along since 1946. Its five Texas locations are very productive, in part because the state of Texas has a big “welcome” sign out for business relocations. It also has an office in Las Vegas, NV. This year, TDIndustries made it to FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” for the 15th time. One of TDIndustries’ defining qualities, as recognized by FORTUNE judges, is the opportunity it provides to identify and develop employee career paths.

“We’re often asked: How does a construction company become a best place to work? We offer our employees careers, not just jobs. We treat each other with respect for their skills and talents. We truly believe putting employees first will drive better business results. And, we know how to have fun,” says Maureen Underwood, executive vice president of TD’s People Department.

Total Building Sustainability
Established in 1965, MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions, Seattle, WA, has completed thousands of successful projects, including high-and low-rise office buildings, mixed-use projects and condominiums, shopping centers, major hospitals, and medical centers. For these many and varied sites, MacMiller provides mechanical engineering, Design/Build, custom metal fabrication, building system service and maintenance, and energy management programs.

The Contracting Commercial HVAC Contractor of the Year in 1991, MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions envisions designing, building, and retrofitting facilities to be 100% sustainable.

“The core focus of our growth opportunities is on private sector energy efficiency investments for the built environment,” says Perry England, vice president, building performance. “This involves creating a sustainable business model based on energy efficiency investments in the private sector.”

This Giant Isn’t Sleeping
Southland Industries — the Contracting 2001 Commercial Contractor of the Year —continues to prosper as a Design/Build leader. The company has a solid history, and $300+ million in annual revenue to power its engines, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. Southland continues to adjust and adapt to industry change, and is finding new ways to approach and fulfill many large projects.

Ken Lindsey, senior project manager, says Southland is establishing more relational contracts and consensus documents, which help to align goals with architects, general contractors, and other project partners.

“I look at Design/Build as a microcosm of integrated project delivery (IPD). We’ve been doing Design/Build internally for so many years now, that the balance between our design and build abilities translate well to the IPD environment,” Lindsey says. “We’re able to share those abilities with architects and general contractors, and we have aligned goals in a project-centric environment.”

He adds that Southland Industries is using more prefabrication and modular assemblies to improve job efficiency and achieve on-time completion. Efficient “speed to market” is a goal. Read about their most recent Design/Build Award winning project — M Resort in Las Vegas — at

You can expect to see continued excellence from these eight, great contractors, who understand what it takes to be at the top of their game in their respective markets. The smaller firms are hungry, and the giants are wide awake. But, all that they’re doing is within reach of thousands of other firms. From sales and project development, to training and technology, contractors must remain watchful: know what’s happening around you, and take action.

About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.