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    April 13, 2023
    From left: Rob 'Doc' Falke, Dominick Guarino and Steve Miles.

    Falke, Guarino & Miles to Enter HVAC Hall of Fame

    Aug. 30, 2023
    In October we will recognize three who made mighty contributions to the science and business of heating and air conditioning contracting.
    From left: Rob 'Doc' Falke, Dominick Guarino and Steve Miles.
    From left: Rob "Doc" Falke, Dominick Guarino and Steve Miles.

    Falke, Guarino & Miles to Enter HVAC CB Hall of Fame

    In October, we will again open the doors to the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame -- the only recognition of its kind -- to  welcome three who have made significant contributions to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry.

    - The late Rob Falke, president of National Comfort Institute, who passed away in May of 2022 due to COVID-related pneumonia and other complications. 
    - Dominick Guarino, founder and CEO of National Comfort Institute. 
    - Steve Miles, president of Jerry Kelly Co., St. Peters, Missouri.

    As shared by National Comfort Institute's Director of Communications, Mike Weil, it was in the late 1980s, while working with his father in the family company in Turlock, Calif., that Rob Falke pioneered the idea of applying commercial balancing knowledge to residential HVAC systems. As he tested and fixed more systems, he wrote procedures and processes to consistently measure and record his findings.

    Within a few years, he decided he needed to teach these concepts to fellow contractors, and helped start NCI with Dominick Guarino. Together they began the journey of training thousands of HVAC professionals.

    Rob "Doc" Falke is considered the father of modern airflow testing and diagnostics and residential airflow balancing. His focus on airflow and duct system renovation led to the development of NCI's first-rate technical training team, whose focus on airflow remains key to that organization's mission today. In 2016 Falke began research that eventually established ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 221, which provided a testing method to measure and score the performance of installed unitary HVAC systems. 

    For more than 30 years, Rob Falke published hundreds of articles in magazines across the HVAC industry. He spoke at dozens of conferences and association meetings. 

    It was during his tenure as editor-in-chief of Contracting Business that Dominick Guarino developed a passion for high-performance contracting. He became a true devotee of the science of comfort, not just an editor posting random stories as they came across his desk.

    In December 1992, Guarino wrote an editorial titled, "The Comfort Revolution." The article pointed out how after 20 years of focus on energy efficiency, the HVAC industry had lost sight of delivering comfort. The energy conservation movements of the 1970s and 1980s had effectively derailed the industry’s primary mission:
    maintaining comfort in indoor environments. This was due to the fact that a race was on to create and sell high-performance comfort products, following ongoing government demands for higher efficiency systems. 

    Guarino devoted much of his time to analyzing the relationship between comfort and energy, and determined that it was indeed possible to have high efficiency and a high level of interior comfort. He called it "delivered" performance, and later, "high-performance contracting" became the mission of Guarino and his NCI co-founder and friend, Rob "Doc" Falke. He eventually left CB to found NCI with Falke. The full story of their journey as comfort champions -- and as friends -- would make for great reading.

    Steve Miles joined the Jerry Kelly Company in the mid-1990s, as a dispatcher. From there he worked his way up to service manager, then a sales rep, sales manager, and  general manager in 1998. In 2014, he and his wife, Jill purchased the business from  Jerry Kelly in 2014. 

    Steve's induction into the Hall of Fame could be categorized as "the innovators." He realized there was no sense in owning a business it can't be the best it can possibly be.

    In 2002, he had the company's entire fleet wrapped, after listening to Matt MIchel speak on "Mobile Marketing" at a Comfortech show. His ability to execute is matched only by his innovation. Under Steve’s stewardship, the Jerry Kelly Co.'s payroll doubled, then doubled again, then doubled a third time until the company employed more than 65 people. He bought and renovated a 21,000 sq. ft. space to become a model work-friendly environment.   
    Steve Miles

    Seeking to improve leak detection in gas heat exchangers, Steve created a product he named Visible Defects. He sold it to other contractors, who reported considerable success with the product before ultimately selling the business to a chemicals manufacturer. Steve is not only an outstanding contractor, but a serial entrepreneur.              

    Steve joined a group of contractors to discuss the potential for each company creating their own line of branded equipment. Not only did Steve accept a leadership position in this group, he became the example for others by converting virtually 100% to his own equipment line in a matter of months.         

    Jerry Kelly Co. was the Contracting Business 2006 Residential Contractor of the Year. It was selected by readers of the St. Charles County Suburban Journal as the number one HVAC contractor for more than two decades. It was named the 1999 Excellence Alliance Contractor of the Year, and in 2017, the company received the Ron Smith Leadership Award.

    When needing additional operations space, Steve found a 21,000 sq. ft. building near a highway and did a wholesale renovation and design based on flow through, an open office, lots of windows, and metrics on full display for everyone. His goal was to increase collaboration within the team. When he finished, he invited the industry to come and see what he had done. It is the model for the industry. Steve was also one of the first to utilize billboards along busy highways to recruit personnel.

    Steve was an early adopter of performance pay and his technicians are the best paid in his market. He innovates in his scheduling, offering 7-day service by scheduling staggered four-days-on-and-four-days-off work approaches. Steve is one of the most generous people in the industry. He welcomes anyone who wants to visit his operation, including direct competitors. He is an open book and shares his performance, good, bad, and improving. He speaks frequently at industry conferences. He mentors other contractors. He has served as a Service Nation Alliance Advisory Board Mentor for years.

    Falke, Guarino and Miles will be inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame during the 2023 Service World Expo, Oct. 3-6 in Phoenix, Ariz. Learn about the event at serviceworldexpo.com.