Contractor Insights - May 2010

May 3, 2010
For this edition of RST Contractor Insights, spoke with Drew Barbosa, owner, Barbosa Mechanical, Dallas, TX.

Drew Barbosa has entered his 30th year as a refrigeration and mechanical services contractor. It's a far cry from the days when "little Drew" would help Ed Henniger run refrigeration line in tight spaces.

Drew Barbosa and his wife Janet started Barbosa Mechanical in 1979, working out of their garage. Drew worked in the field, while Janet maintained the office. In 1984, Barbosa Mechanical moved to a new location on Denton Drive in North Dallas.

Barbosa Mechanical’s specialties include refrigeration, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and rooftop changeouts. Its refrigeration expertise includes service and maintenance for specialty food shops in major shopping centers, and industrial walk-in coolers and freezers.

Drew and Janet's daughter, Laura Carter, has become more active in the company, and is gradually assuming a larger role in business development. Their son, Luke, is the newest member to the Barbosa Mechanical team. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2007, with an associate's degree in applied science and air conditioning.

So, who was Ed Henniger? He was the Barbosa family’s next-door neighbor, and the owner of Henniger Heating & Air Conditioning. It was a small HVAC company that enjoyed a thriving business during the breakout of mall construction in North Dallas/Ft. Worth region.

"Little Drew" — as Henniger would call him — began working for him when Henniger was in his 60s. "He'd come and get me to work in an attic, help with ductwork, crawl above a cooler to pull a control wire, or help pull refrigeration lines in small areas."

Drew met Janet — "the girl next door" — after his parents moved the family to a new neighborhood. Their life together, and nurturing their five soccer-playing children, made owning a business worthwhile. Today, Drew and Janet's parents are still neighbors after 36 years.

Husband and wife decided to open their own business once they started a family, and a job he held with a trucking firm just wasn't paying the bills. "From 1973 to 1978 I worked the night shift at the freight line job, unloading diesel trucks. During the day I worked on air conditioning for friends and neighbors," he explains.

A ductwork repair job he did for a neighbor who ran a Tupperware business in her garage was another landmark moment in the history of Barbosa Mechanical.

"Her employer needed some ductwork repaired at a women's specialty cosmetics business, located in a local mall. Later, the mall landlord — Dallas mayor and prominent land developer Bob Folsom— started using me for stores throughout the entire shopping center. Folsom was building shopping centers like crazy throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

"I installed a lot of Carrier rooftop units for him. Little did I know that garage duct would be a cornerstone of my business," Barbosa says.

Quality is King
Quality — and polite technicians — are paramount at Barbosa Mechanical. The very word "quality" is seen everywhere; from slogans such as, "Quality You Can Trust," to "Quality Service," to its dedication to, "Quality Workmanship." And, while it may be an overused expression, the company's sincere and stated desire is to, "treat customers the way we would like to be treated."

Barbosa's technicians are NATE-certified and EPA-licensed.

New refrigerants and higher efficiency equipment are two ongoing developments that Barbosa believes are good for the HVACR industry's near future.

"Everybody's concerned with cost of operation. They're listening to contractors more about high efficiency. They're seeing the need to move to higher efficiency equipment. People are listening more about the new technology that can save operation and service costs," he says.

And the key to helping people with refrigeration needs? "It's the service agreement," Barbosa says. His best customers use service agreements, which he came to appreciate by working with Ed Henniger.

"A customer complained about a cooler repair, and Ed said he’d have serviced it for nothing if they had a service agreement.

"It's still true today," he says. "A stitch in time saves nine, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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.