Arizona Comfort Company Keeps Founder’s Legacy Alive, through Innovation and Training

July 2, 2014
All Erik Bryan did was answer an ad for a service technician, and in so doing, he secured his future in the HVAC industry. His story combines triumph with tragedy, and illustrates the value of initiative and persistence.
Erik Bryan
Precision Air and Heating's 'Precision Plus' private label line.

All Erik Bryan did was answer an ad for a service technician, and in so doing, he secured his future in the HVAC industry. His story combines triumph with tragedy, and illustrates the value of initiative and persistence.

In 1995, following a four-year stint in the U.S. Marines, Bryan obtained HVAC training and certification from The Refrigeration School, Inc. (RSI) of Phoenix, AZ, followed by work for multiple air conditioning businesses. As someone very well-trained in general construction methods from a very early age, he had tried to open his own construction firm. He eventually settled on HVAC, and his 14,000 active customers in the Valley are glad he did.

Precision Air and Heating, Mesa, AZ, was founded by Paul Hardin in 1996. Bryan and Hardin became best friends as well as business associates. In less than a year, Bryan was named service manager. A short time after that, he was vice president and part owner. Hardin relinquished an active role in the business in 2002, while Bryan went on to try all he could to expand and build the business.

Tragedy struck in August 2010, when Hardin was killed in a skydiving accident in Clackamas, OR.

Bryan was determined to keep the company going in a way Hardin would have approved. During their time running the business together, they shared high standards and ethics, and each had wanted the company to be a leader in residential air conditioning and heating in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Bryan is most excited about the prospects for Precision’s home performance division, which is finding success by addressing home heat loads caused by poorly ventilated attics, where the temperature can climb to near 200F.

“You can imagine the strain that kind of heat puts on an air conditioning system. We use a radiant barrier and insulation to dispose of that hot air and can cool the attic space to 10F of the ambient outside air.”

Bryan says people are starting to recognize that in some homes, there’s more square footage in their attics than there is in their actual living areas. “There’s a greater amount of cubic feet of air in attics, with vaulted ceilings and gabled ends. That air is superheated, expands, and penetrates down through electrical outlets and any other leaky areas. It’s like a car with the windows rolled up on a hot day,” he explains.

“We ‘crack the windows,’ so to speak, by venting the attics, so that the heat releases outside. Our best estimate is that it results in a 35% to 45% reduction in air conditioning energy use.

“There’s nothing like removing the heat at the source. We’re not bulking up the equipment to compensate.”

Precision’s customers can be confident that Bryan’s technicians are also well-trained in many other technical aspects of HVAC. All technicians are required to obtain a NATE certification within 90 days of being hired. The firm is a member of Building Performance Institute (BPI), and the Arizona Heat Pump Council provides a structured air conditioning program, through which Precision’s techs have obtained master heat pump certifications.

Precision’s technicians win pay raises whenever they obtain a new HVAC certification.

Precision Air and Heating sells Bryant, Ruud, and Goodman brands, and was named Goodman’s Dealer of the Year in 2013 for their region.

“We were approached by Goodman and Amana to private label their equipment, which has the best warranty in the industry. I jumped at the opportunity. It’s been efficient and effective. The Precision line is an economy line. The Precision Plus line is a higher priced line. We spend a great deal of time educating our customers on all the differences between efficiencies, cost, applications, and all those types of variables,” Bryan says.

“We get some customers who want the lowest price and we accommodate them. And we have customers who are much more concerned with efficiency and reliability and will buy a higher priced system.”

By combining attic heat load reduction with system efficiency, Bryan and his team can scale down tonnage rather than sell on SEER rating alone.

“We can set them up with a mid-tier, 15 SEER system, remove the heat load, and bring true savings to our customers.

“When we leave, we’ve improved their energy savings as it relates to air conditioning. Customers see massive reductions in their electric bills due to improved home performance brought about by the attic improvements,” Bryan says. Looking forward, Bryan believes  that sometime in the next five years, home performance improvements of this type will be adopted more widely across the industry.

“Even home builders are starting to adopt home performance, because they’ve seen that it works,” he says.