Canadian Co-op is Committed to Customers

ClimateCare Co-operative Corporation of Ontario, Canada is a memberowned, for-profit co-operative that exists solely to promote the best interest of the members, a network of independent residential HVAC contractors across Ontario. Wayne Langford, current contractor president of ClimateCare and vice president of member company Design Air says, "As a group, we are committed to exceptional customer service and to the HVAC industry."

How It Started. In 1992, six companies met to talk about how to better implement and utilize their computer systems. However, the discussion turned quickly to procedures for running their business rather than running their software. The group agreed to seek outside help in order to strengthen their respective businesses through networking, sharing, and learning from each other. They formed the Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors Executive Organization (CEO) and grew to more than 40 members.

In 1998, the group changed its name to ClimateCare.

Various forms of consolidation ate into the membership roster, which dwindled to 18 members at one point. Now at 31 HVAC contracting companies, ClimateCares' goal is to grow to approximately 50 members in Ontario, thereby enabling it to become a more dominant player in the industry. The coop foresees additional growth at some point in other parts of North America.

The co-operative is self-funded through preferred vendor rebates based upon individual member companies purchases. The co-op returns to its members, 2% of their purchases for advertising and 1% for member equity. The businesses currently represent CN$50 million in sales, and annual purchases for the entire co-op from ClimateCare approved suppliers total approximately CN$12 million.

To qualify for membership, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • independently owned
  • properly staffed with trained and qualified technicians
  • in HVAC residential business minimum five years
  • minimum sales volume of CN$1 million per year
  • member of the HRAI
  • attend quarterly work meetings
  • adhere to a Code of Conduct.

"We offer several very successful programs to our membership, such as the We Care preventative maintenance plan, marketing and management manuals, self-funded group insurance, and the like. Companies, such as mine, who have been in for many years, have shown tremendous improvement. However, in the early days we were lacking in the documentation of our processes, and our newer members didn't benefit from our experiences as easily as they could. With a stronger infrastructure, we expect our membership to grow. The ClimateCare model is working because the average profitability and net worth of individual members has increased steadily. Our next step is to partner with some other organizations to achieve our desired growth."

Resources for Success. ClimateCare provides member companies with resources to facilitate their individual growth and success. The co-op provides business coaches that members can hire to help with strategic issues and understanding the culture of todays business world. About 75% of members take advantage of the services of such well-known coaches as Warren Evans and Ron Coleman.

"We have a great opportunity to partner with other organizations and are exploring new relationships every day," says Mario Bernardi, executive director of ClimateCare.

For more information about the Climate-Care co-operative, contact either Wayne Langford, current member-president of ClimateCare, 905/881-1001, [email protected], or Mario Bernardi, executive director of ClimateCare, 905/319-9828, [email protected]

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