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    Griffin Game Night1
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    BE LEGENDARY

    Aug. 2, 2021
    After relocating to Florida, Tom Casey had no intention of starting another heating and air conditioning company. But when he did, it turned out to be something very special.

    Tom Casey had absolutely no intention of starting another heating and air conditioning company. 

    Casey, president of Griffin Service, St. Johns, Fla., had moved his family to the Sunshine State after spending many years leading the team at the first family business, Casey’s Climate Partners, in chilly Milford, Ct. The move south was the first step toward a new family adventure, and business venture, after Casey had a shocking health scare.

    “I had gone to see a doctor, and one thing led to another: routine physical, cardiologist, failed stress test, and then, ‘You need surgery. Get your affairs in order, just in case.’

    Following the exploratory, Casey came to in the recovery room to learn he was healthy as a horse.

    “Doctor said, ‘Everything is great. Heart’s perfect, everything’s perfect.’”

    It was “new lease on life” time. So, what to do next? Family road trip, as in relocation.

    “My wife Dana and I always wanted to get out of the northeast because of the weather,” Casey said. “We started looking, and we found a place in Florida. We built our dream home and moved, and just kind of semi-retired. I still owned Climate Partners and wasn’t looking to start a business.”

    An HVAC industry friend, Scott Boxer, who had purchased Service Experts from
    Lennox, enlisted Casey’s help with home performance training and sales training.

    “I started a company, and called it, ‘Comfort Consultant.’ The word was out, and I was busy doing consulting.”  

    The excitement of consulting faded, however, after Casey had spend three weeks in one month out of town. “I was about to tell my wife and kids, when they came to me to say, ‘Hey, we don’t want you to do this anymore.’ It was perfect timing.”

    Next, a chain of events led him to start a company with one of his consulting
    clients, who he later bought out after 18 months. Griffin Service opened its doors Thanksgiving week 2016.

    Foundational Principles

    Tom and his brother, Todd, managed Climate Partners after their dad, Tom Casey, Sr. retired. And now, Griffin Service is also family affair. His son, Declan, just passed his second anniversary at Griffin, and has become a very astute lead technician, one of eight on the team. Daughter Jenna, now in college, has worked in the call center as a CSR. There are five installation crews and 12 plumbers. “There was a chasm in plumbing” in the region, he said.

    The start-up was new territory for Casey, and he was going to practice what he
    preached during his brief time as a consultant.

    “I was going to follow all the principles I told people they should be doing, which I knew to be true for Climate Partners in Connecticut, but this was a brand-new market. Nobody knew me, I had no customers, no employees, no vendors. I was going to set this up like a business in a box.”

    To craft the Griffin brand, Casey researched his competitors with a vengeance, taking note of names, colors, themes, logos. He reviewed photos of competitor trucks, seeking to design something disruptive.

    “At the same time, I was running all the demographics of my market: house values, education levels, country clubs. I noticed that the golf neighborhoods and country clubs all had an emblem, a crest. Everyone had an alma mater symbol from their school. They were very much into the idea of a ‘symbol.’ Car logos, too. Our final logo turned out to be very similar to that of a Ferrari. If you see the Ferrari logo, you know it’s not a Hyundai”.

    He settled on the griffin, a mythical half-bird, half-lion. “The eagle is the most honorable bird. The lion is the most powerful beast in the jungle. We could then tell our marketing story, that our core values are integrity and honesty, we have an amazing workplace and provide legendary service.”

    Slick move #2: he held a logo design contest, with a $500 prize for the winning griffin logo design, followed by a contest for a truck wrap design.

    In year one, Griffin Service did $1.2 million in business and $2.1 million year two. This year, they’ll surpass $8 million.  

    “My goal was to have an immediate brand presence, so it wasn’t like a magnet on a truck, or a white truck with no lettering. We wanted to disrupt the market from day one,” Casey remembered.

    In year one, Griffin Service did $1.2 million in business and $2.1 million year two. This year, they’ll surpass $8 million.  

    Valuable help was provided by CEO Warrior Mike Agugliaro, Kenny Chapman of Blue Collar Success Group, and Nexstar, of which he’s now a member.

    The Need Was There

    Griffin’s fast growth came by serving deficiencies in the regional market.

    “It’s a very big market, with many mature companies, and a lot of ‘one truck Chuck’ guys, too. Jacksonville is the largest square-mileage city in the country, so there’s a lot of people, a lot of companies.

    'There were quality companies, but what was missing was innovation. We approached the market from an engineering perspective, a Design/Build perspective, like we had done at Climate Partners.' - Tom Casey

    “I observed a complacency in the market,” Casey recalled. “There were quality companies, but what was missing was innovation. We approached the market from an engineering perspective, a Design/Build perspective, like we had done at Climate Partners.” From that idea, Casey designed the concept of a “Florida-Rated AC System,” partly inspired by the HVAC system nightmare he and the family had experienced in their dream home. He ultimately had it removed, and he installed one himself.

    He explained: “’Florida Rated AC’ means proper airflow to every room in the house for perfectly even cooling; proper humidity control that will allow you to remain perfectly comfortable at 74 degrees, so your ducts don’t sweat, and you never have to fight over the thermostat. It also means you’ll never feel sticky when it rains or during the winter. And Florida Rated means improved air quality. No more dealing with seasonal allergies, worrying about mold or mildew, or problems with dust.”

    And the last piece is proper engineering and installation.

    “We lumped all these things together and started to sell this idea, that there is a way to make your house right. It's different than anything anyone else is doing it. It costs more money, but if you want your house to be right, Griffin does that. We specialize in that process,” he said.

    Team-Based Planning

    Tom Casey believes in the team approach to business planning.

    “We identify goals and establish quarterly “rocks” – also from Gino Wickman’s method – for each leadership team. We put on the table all the things we need to work on and prioritize them. Then, each team leader takes on one or two the quarter. Over time, each person chips away at their respective rocks. Kind of like the “you eat an elephant one bite at a time” method.

    'We lumped all these things together and started to sell this idea, that there is a way to make your house right. It's different than anything anyone else is doing it. It costs more money, but if you want your house to be right, Griffin does that. We specialize in that process.' - Tom Casey

    “One of my rocks for Q3, is to develop preliminary plans to launch an electrical division. We obtained our electrical license in June, but first I have to come up with a price book and plan the marketing strategy. And for the next 90 days, I will report my progress to the leadership team.”

    Be Legendary

    Tom Casey said Griffin Service’s overarching philosophy is called “Triple Win.”

    “In the Griffin world, the customer must win. Period. The associate or employee must win. Period. And, the company must win. Period. If something’s not a triple win, we just don’t do it.

    “By operating this way, we get the right customers, we get the right employees, and we do the right things. That would probably be one of my core principles that separates us from others. And, we don’t just have it as a fancy slogan. We live it and breathe it. When some idea comes up, we ask, ‘Is it a triple win, and how is it a triple win?’

    “We’re not here to be average, we’re here to be legendary. Some people like it, and some people don’t like it. But if you’re going to be here, that’s how it is. Answer the phone LEGENDARY.  Keep your truck condition LEGENDARY. Let your billing be LEGENDARY. Make your training LEGENDARY. Average is not acceptable.”

    That extends to customers, too.

    “If a CSR is on the phone and the customer is being ultra difficult, and the CSR senses that it’s not going to be a good fit, they can say, ‘Mr. Smith, I want to thank you for calling, but I just don’t think we’re the right company for you. Can I refer you to someone who I think is?’ We will not run that call if it’s not the right fit. We don’t want to do that."

    Griffin's Service maintenance visits are known as "Florida-Rated Refreshes," which go beyond "flashlight maintenance" calls. Installations are based on "OPEX" standards, for "operating excellence." 

    "No one can touch our installations or service calls with a 10-foot pole," Casey proclaims.

    Every repair call is covered by a two-year warranty, five-years for club members. And our installs are the same way. Our standard out-of-the-box warranty for installations is two years on labor. It's also not third-party, it's two years for us."

    "And on our 16 SEER units and above, actually we'll give you what we call a sweet 16 warranty. The sweet 16 warranty is, we'll give you parts and labor for 16 years. All the manufacturers are 10 or 12, we'll go to 16, as long as you're a member of our service club, and we take care of it for the 16 years. We should be able to guarantee that if you had us put it in, we put it in right, you have us maintenance, and we maintenance it right, that thing should last 16 years, and we'll guarantee it."

    A big rock for quarter three is how will they maintain the current revenue pace while moving to a new facility.

    The entire company meets on the first Wednesday of every month. Weekly departmental meetings are also honored. Meetings are important and meant to accomplish something.

    “It’s also a good time to just talk,” Casey said. “I’ll ask if there’s anything we need to talk about, any questions, any issues, and we put ‘em on the whiteboard.” Departmental meetings follow a similar troubleshooting style.

    “For us, it’s very much about a rhythm of meetings,” he explains. “We solicit ideas and talk about what works and what doesn’t. And I will tell you this: all of our budgets and goals are not coming from on high. They’re coming as a result of input from the entire team.”

    “One of my team leaders has inventory as one of their rocks. Every Thursday, he’ll provide an update.