Since its founding in 2002, the Service Roundtable has sparked the growth of thousands of HVAC and other trade professionals, through a multitude of business tools, and the support of a national network of leading contractors and consultants.
Vital to the success of Service Roundtable has been David Heimer, who co-founded the organization with CEO Matt Michel. Today, Heimer serves as senior vice president of Service Nation Alliance, the “next level” offshoot of the Roundtable.
“Most people are unaware of the role David has played in the growth and development of the Service Roundtable,” says Matt Michel. “He’s the guy who executes, who gets it done. Without David, it is unlikely there would be a Service Roundtable. At least, it would not exist in its current form.”
Heimer devotes each day to the service of HVAC contracting business owners and their employees, working with internal teams to develop business tools that improve members’ sales, marketing, operations and profitability.
His dedication and commitment to Service Roundtable, Service Nation Alliance and to the members of both organizations have earned David Heimer a place in the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame for 2019.
Heimer majored in computer science at Texas Christian University, and joined Lennox in 1981, working in the IT department at its Dallas headquarters. He later attended Southern Methodist University as a part-time student, and earned an MBA degree.
Lennox coveted Heimer’s expertise, as it developed innovative comfort products and sought to expand its computer and database capabilities.
“There were many interesting things taking place related to database management systems, as they moved from hierarchical database management to relational database systems,” he explains.
“What I really value most from my Lennox years, are the people I met: Matt Michel, John and Vicki LaPlant, Mike Hyduk, Joe Groh and others. There was at Lennox an incredible number of talented people focused on providing great products and services to contractors.”
In 1992, Heimer joined Air Systems Components, in nearby Plano, to help restructure and manage its computer network.
Next Stop: Service Roundtable
David Heimer’s entire professional career has been based in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry, which helps to explain why he has been so effective in empowering contracting business owners. Each day’s challenges and solutions expanded his understanding of the needs of service businesses.
Working together at Lennox, Heimer and Matt Michel discovered that they shared similar goals and business ambitions.
“We had talked about creating our own business, but were not sure what we would do. We both have strong ethical backgrounds, and wanted to be certain we treated people the right way, and that we would do the right thing for customers, vendor partners, our employees and business owners,” Heimer recalls.
DAVID HEIMER WILL BE INDUCTED INTO THE HVAC HALL OF FAME DURING SERVICE WORLD EXPO, OCT. 16-18, AT PARIS, LAS VEGAS.
Matt Michel shared his idea for the Service Roundtable with Heimer in 2002, and it soon became a reality.
“The industry seemed ripe for the Service Roundtable,” Heimer says. “Its value is obvious now, but in 2002, the idea of offering goods and services over the Internet was still a new concept.”
United in a common goal, Michel and Heimer wrote a business plan, raised funding, incorporated, formed a board of directors and worked on the value proposition. They were both working full-time jobs, and had to meet in the
evenings till the early morning hours. Some months later, they had the initial content and IT infrastructure in place, and Service Roundtable was launched on September 12, 2002, operating out of a small office in Flower Mound, Texas. In 2018 the offices were relocated to a larger space in the nearby city of Coppell.
“A lot of work was required to get the Service Roundtable up and running, but the industry responded really well,” Heimer says. “There were four of us in a tiny office, but we had so much fun, and felt that we were doing something different and important that members really needed.
“In the early days, Service Roundtable was based on content and community. When we built the membership numbers up to a sufficient level, we saw the opportunity to create ‘Roundtable Rewards,’ which is our industry buying group. Then, we added two layers of membership: the Retail Contractor Coalition — our private labeling/branding program, which helps contractors establish a powerful local brand in their markets — and a few years later, Service Nation Alliance, our best practices group that provides additional support and tools.” Combined memberships total about 4,500.
“A lot of work was required to get the Service Roundtable up and running, but the industry responded really well,” Heimer says. “There were four of us in a tiny office, but we had so much fun, and felt that we were doing something different and important that members really needed."
Heimer was quick to say that the Service Roundtable and Service Nation accomplishments are achieved through team efforts.
“I work with a team of people here, a great bunch of collaborators. I worked with Liz Patrick (VP, Strategic Alliances) to develop Roundtable Rewards, and with Bob Viering (VP, Programs) on Service Nation Alliance. Steve Hoffmann (IT Director) and I worked out a number of back-end solutions to help contractors, such as dashboards and other tools.”
Early on, a helpful board of directors included contractors Ron Smith, Steve Saunders, Mitch Cropp, Mike Hyduk and Larry Taylor.
“They are fantastic people and thought leaders. Having them work with and help us was a major advantage,” he says. He names Smith, Taylor and Cropp as mentors, along with his great friend, Matt Michel.
One of Heimer’s favorite offerings is the “Prosperity Podcast,” which features interviews with contracting business leaders, to help others learn from their success stories and best practices.
“I try to provide a platform for those voices and experiences, trying to focus on something interesting and unique, that includes a takeaway: recruiting, performance pay, company culture, things like that. It’s lots of fun and tremendously interesting,” he says.
Although the two organizations provide a multitude of business building tools, Heimer says it’s important for business owners to work on just a few concepts at any one time.
“What’s important, is saying ‘no’ to some ideas in favor of saying ‘yes’ to a select few things, and doing them well.
“You can’t do 100 things at once and do them all well. Focus on one, two, or three, and then move on to the next thing,” he advises.