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Contracting Businesscom Hall of Fame

Contracting 2014 Hall of Fame: Steve Saunders

Sept. 2, 2014
Contracting 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Saunders is a great leader who goes beyond his HVAC business to help build a better world.

It’s not every day that someone with an educational and career background in finance and art history goes on to become an HVAC Industry icon. And Steve Saunders would be the first person to brush that “icon” statement off and provide credit to everyone who ever helped him along the way. Saunders is a family man, an industry man, and a company man, with the uncanny ability to make people feel like they’ve known him their entire lives and are proud of that fact. So says Stan Johnson, director of the Building Performance Council of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). Johnson says Saunders is a great leader who goes well beyond managing his business to tirelessly work toward the betterment of the world.

Steve Saunders, Tempo Partners, Dallas, TX

In fact, 2013 Hall of Famer Larry Taylor says that Saunders’ “ability to stretch the minds and visions of all around him is simply exceptional.”

But let’s take a step back. In 1977, two years after becoming Contracting Business magazine’s Commercial Contractor of the Year, TDIndustries of Dallas decided to spin off its residential division. Steve Saunders led a group within the residential division that persuaded employees to use retirement funds to create an ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) and buy the division. The new company was called Tempo Mechanical. Today it’s part of an umbrella organization called Tempo Partners.

Saunders went on to lead that company to winning a contractor of the year award from this magazine (the 2003 Residential Contractor of the Year). In fact, Tempo has received more than five national awards.

There is no doubt that Tempo Partners is a tremendous success story. Steve will tell you it wasn’t easy, despite all the great press, and every day you have to work hard.

Working hard is really just the tip of the iceberg for Saunders. Few contractors are more recognized than he is for his work on home performance and green building. According to Matt Michel, CEO of the Service Roundtable, “Always a visionary and out-of-the-box thinker, Steve helped form and guide much of the energy rating structure that exists today. Few contractors have more influence with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations that impact the HVAC Industry.”

Indeed, Saunders was one of the first contractors to embrace home performance in scale. To pursue it, according to Michel, he formed two new companies: TexEnergy Solutions and US-Eco Logic. The first has commissioned more than 110 million sq. ft. of single-family homes as energy efficient or environmentally friendly. The second provides sustainability consulting, energy consulting, commissioning, research, and training worldwide.

Saunders was very influential in the formation of the Texas Home Energy Rating Organization and is Chairman Emeritus. He is the founding chair of the South Central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), and he serves as a member of this publication’s editorial advisory board.

Contracting editorial advisory board member, Vicki LaPlant (VLE, Enterprises, Dallas, TX), adds that his contributions to the industry in general includes a year as a past national president of ACCA where “he worked tirelessly to help make the industry more professional and individual contractors more successful.”

Stan Johnson says, “Steve has demonstrated by his actions that he believes our industry must and is evolving toward a greater recognition of our responsibility to promote awareness of energy conservation and healthier indoor environments. His work reinforces his belief that making all the contractors participating in this industry not only great HVAC contractors, but also great building performance contractors, will pay dividends beyond just this industry.”

Larry Taylor adds, “Steve’s leadership and support of related industries and organizations has made a lasting impact, which has positively changed the way those businesses will look in the future.”

Fellow Hall of Famer Ron Smith of Ron Smith Consulting & Coaching adds that he and Steve currently serve as members of the board of directors for the Service Roundtable/Service Nation Alliance and that “Steve has an unusually keen knowledge of the HVAC industry and an impressive intelligence and ability to make things happen.” In fact, Smith points out that Saunders was also very instrumental in the creation of the Service Roundtable itself.

For these and many more reasons, it is our pleasure to present the Contracting 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Steve Saunders, who is the 32nd contractor to be so honored.