Owens Companies, Inc., Bloomington, Minn., is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2017. Founded by the late Robert H. Owens in 1957, Owens Companies was one of the first in the country to create a single-source service organization.
We at Contracting Business have a special place in our hearts for Owens Companies. Founder Bob Owens and his son John Owens were solid supporters of our Design/Build promotional activities, and they’ve always been faithful disciples of overall company excellence and best practices, and perhaps most of all, of the value of the independent commercial contractor.
The firm was our 1996 Commercial HVAC Contractor of the Year, under the name Owens Services.
1957, Bob Owens was appointed the district manager of the Twin Cities office of the Trane Company. With the acceleration of installations of large tonnage chillers, the need for a service organization to provide warranty, preventive maintenance, and repair service on these chillers became apparent. Owens Service Company was founded to meet those needs.
The company developed some of the first preventive and predictive maintenance programs in the industry, including the concept of laboratory oil analysis, after learning of its use in the airline industry.
Owens continued its association with the Trane Company until 1973, when Bob Owens decided they could better serve the marketplace as an independent contractor. At the time, building owners had multiple suppliers for all of the different systems in their facilities. And for some that had more than one type of chiller, they were required to use different manufacturers as well. So it was easy to see how customers could get caught in the middle of all these service providers.
Owens set out to build what would become the first true “single-source service” provider. In addition to the service of all chiller manufacturers, as well as all air conditioning, heating and temperature control systems, the company added water treatment, energy management, Design/Build contracting and building operation divisions to round out the organization. In 2000, the company bought an existing residential contracting firm, which became the Home Comfort Division within Owens Companies.
Bob Owens was a founding member of the Service and Maintenance Bureau (SMB) of MCAA, known today as the Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA). Owens Companies is also a founding member of the Chiller Systems Group, a network of independent contractors dedicated to providing building owners with the highest level of chiller service and a highly qualified unbiased alternative to manufacturer’s service. CSG members collaborate through an email user group, and meet each year for idea sharing and networking.
Owens Companies is a 35-year member of the Keystone Award Program in the Twin Cities, annually contributing 5 percent of income to charitable organizations.
Bob Owens passed away in March of 2006, having retired two years earlier. His son, Jim, vice president, passed away in January 2009. John Owens is president and CEO.