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Guest HVAC Editorial: Building Relationships, Adapting to Change

A career mechanical contracting professional shares some of the things he's learned about customer service and the art of offering solutions.

Atlantic Westchester was founded in 1961 as a mechanical installation company that serviced several commercial buildings, schools, hotels, and more in the NY metro area. In 1979, my father, Gene Hammer, became a 50 percent co-owner. Coming from the New York City market, his experience of service and renovation to existing buildings was a big asset since it was a relatively new industry in the suburbs, due to the young age of most of the buildings at the time.

With HVAC service as the family business, I grew up spending summers, school vacations, Saturdays and other free time working for my father either in the shop or the field. In 1989, I began working at Atlantic Westchester full-time, and proudly became its current President in 2002.

Over the years, Atlantic Westchester has grown to have 19 field service technicians. Our annual revenue is approximately $8 million. We offer a wide range of commercial/industrial HVAC solutions for businesses, institutions and local government. Each project is customized for our clients and we have the experience, qualifications and industry certifications to properly maintain the long-term efficiency and integrity of their HVAC systems. Not only do we service HVAC systems, but we provide maintenance programs, remediation services, intelligent control systems, and help building owners to find the most energy-efficient solutions.

Atlantic Westchester acquired PE Control Services Ltd of New York earlier this year. This acquisition gives us an opportunity to grow the automation side of our business, with “control” in the business name. Retrofits and system upgrades are a huge opportunity for us in the near-term future.

I highly encourage teamwork and collaboration. I enjoy coaching our sales team and assisting them in strategizing all parts of the process. — Bud Hammer

As the company president, I like being involved in the day-to-day aspects of the organization, but I’m not a micro-manager. I highly encourage teamwork and collaboration. I enjoy coaching our sales team and assisting them in strategizing all parts of the process. It is in my nature to be a salesman, so I still get involved in sales calls.  I am an active networker and remain the main business development person at our company.

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What I have learned over the course of my career is that our industry is filled with two kinds of people. The first are smart people that understand how to build and fix mechanical systems. Unfortunately, the second group is made up of opportunity hunters who have forced “low bidders” to take short cuts and produce poor results, whether on the design and/or installation side. Service has suffered from the low bidder since there isn’t much accountability. In order to be successful, we spend a lot of time educating our clients and prospects as to why we are a better choice for service and we have built a strong reputation as a company that can figure out what to do with pre-existing bad systems to help make them run better.

Since we create long-term relationships with our clients, we get to know their buildings and their facility’s nuances. It’s exciting to introduce our clients to new technologies that will improve the quality and efficiency of their buildings. Change is critical to any company, and that’s especially true if growth and sustainability are important goals for it. Being relevant and capable of introducing clients to the latest trends, technology, new ideas and/or best practices to help them improve their business also builds credibility and re-confirms their decision to work with us. 

It’s exciting to introduce our clients to new technologies that will improve the quality and efficiency of their buildings.

In fact, as an energy-efficiency focused business, we installed a solar system in our own office building about four years ago as part of “walking the walk” to help decrease our own carbon footprint.  Even though we don’t install or service solar ourselves, we highly recommend it and I can say it’s definitely worth it.

At the end of the day, it is all about maximizing your building’s ROI. Modern facilities with innovative building management solutions that run efficiently will always have a competitive edge that tenants, prospective investors and owners will want to occupy or have in their portfolio.

Bud Hammer1.jpg

Bud Hammer is the President at Atlantic Westchester, Inc., a commercial and industrial HVAC and energy efficiency company located in Bedford Hills, NY. Atlantic Westchester offers a variety of commercial and industrial HVAC solutions for businesses, institutions and government facilities across the NY metro area. For more information: www.atlanticwestchester.com.

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