658ed0420794e0001e727897 Ron Smith 1984

Smith: Common Name, Uncommon Man

Dec. 28, 2023
Ron Smith has left a legacy of excellence in HVAC business management. These testimonials only scratch the surface of Ron's armour of excellence.

 Ron Smith, the father of the modern HVAC service business, died on Thursday, Dec. 22 at the age of 87. We knew two years ago that Ron was in failing health, and could only be on guard for the dark day to come.

Ron Smith started his first company in 1965, with $500. By 1984, Modern Air Conditioning had become a $15 million business that grew between $1.5 to $5 million each year thereafter. Other business ventures were to follow. Later he purchased, significantly grew, and then sold three similar air conditioning and heating companies in the Louisiana and Florida markets.

In 1985 he founded Service America, based in Atlanta, GA, the first national HVAC franchiser. In less than four years the firm had over 100 franchisees. It was later sold to a Swiss public company, purchased back from them two years later, and sold the second time in 1991 to Roto-Rooter. The acolades are endless.

Thankfully, Ron wrote "HVAC Spells Wealth," where he put down for posterity the best practices to follow when running an HVAC service company.

Shortly after Ron's passing, testimonials started to arrive from people who knew Ron well and those who had profited from his business principles. 

Matt Michel, co-founder and past CEO of ServiceNation: "By the time I first heard about Ron Smith, he was already an icon.  In the mid-1980s, I was a young marketing grunt working in the corporate offices of Lennox Industries.  Ron Smith was a legendary contractor, single-handedly reinventing the business of HVAC contracting.  Today, we accept the basic contracting business model Ron created as a matter of course, but when Ron started it was radical.

"Counter to conventional wisdom, Ron built a big, profitable company through nothing but service, replacement, and add-on work.  A $15 million contracting service and replacement contracting company is nothing to sneeze at today.  In the mid eighties, it was beyond comprehension.  Ron Smith built one." (Matt's entire testimonial to Ron Smith can be found on ContractingBusiness.com)

Drew Cameron: "Ron Smith was a great friend, savant, trendsetter, and industry colleague. He shared many talks and insights, hired me at Service Experts in 1998, and even gave me me plug in your industry-success blueprint book HVAC Spells Wealth. He was always growing others. I appreciate his impact on me.

"Ron was a one-of-a-kind human being and educator. He has had a great impact on so many firsthand and so many more beyond, with his ripple-effect reach, who never knew him. That is his legacy. The HVAC industry and everyone who benefits from it in any walk of life is better off today because of Ron Smith.

"I appreciate him for who he was and all he did for others. HVAC spells wealth, but Ron Smith spells HVAC, and that's all we need to know."

Tom Piscitelli: "'Hi Tom, I'm Ron Smith'", he said, as he extended his hand to shake mine. Of course I knew who he was. What startled me was that he knew who I was. We were both exhibiting at Comfortech in January, 2007, so there were hundreds of people around us, but all I heard were his words. He had his HVAC Spells Wealth book in his hand. 'Here', he said, 'let me show you something.' He turned to page 273 and handed it to me. He had listed three sales trainers, Charlie Greer, Drew Cameron and me. I was flattered, of course, and a bit stunned that he had essentially endorsed me and my training without having met or heard me speak. What a gift! A very generous gift. That reference proved to be all I needed with future clients who hadn't previously known me.

"Several years later, Ron invited me to create and co-train a new curriculum which we titled, How to Thrive in a Challenging Economy. This was a combination of his book and my sales training materials which we turned into a two-day seminar and a two-disc audio CD. The time we spent together developing the curriculum and delivering the workshop was another gift to me.

"We will all remember lots of things about Ron: "Get and keep customers", "Customers, Coworkers, Company", KPI's and so much more. Most of all, for me, I'll remember his desire to help others, as he did for me."


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.