• Latest from Residential HVAC

    Ron And Betty Smith 6
    Ron And Betty Smith 6
    Ron And Betty Smith 6
    Ron And Betty Smith 6
    Ron And Betty Smith 6

    An Appreciation of Ron Smith

    May 12, 2022
    Contractor-turned-consultant receives bounty of praise for lifetime of sharing 'what works'.

    HVAC VIPs honored Ron Smith, the author of the best-selling book “HVAC Spells Wealth” and founder of the HVAC-exclusive training and consulting company that bears his name, at an appreciation lunch March 29. The event was staged at the Lake Lanier Island Resort in Buford, GA.

     

    HVAC VIPs honored Ron Smith, the author of the best-selling book “HVAC Spells Wealth” and founder of the HVAC-exclusive training and consulting company that bears his name at an appreciation lunch March 29. The event was staged at the Lake Lanier Island Resort in Buford, GA. Service Nation Inc. hosted the happening. At the event, Matt Michel and Service Nation issued a proclamation to name Ron the Father of Modern HVAC Business Management.

    Ron Smith’s HVAC contracting career started from humble beginnings. More specifically, as Ron explains it, “I started my own HVAC business, Modern Air Conditioning, in Fort Myers, FL. I opened the doors with no customers and no co-workers, with a $500.00 loan from a local bank.”

    No one has had a greater impact on contractor business practices than Ron Smith, says Matt Michel, President of Service Nation Inc. and the Service Roundtable. “Ron Smith started like many contractors, with a truck and a dream. The difference with Ron was he looked beyond his tools and developed ways to work year-round in his one-season market of Fort Myers, FL. At a time when most HVAC contractors focused on residential new construction and did service as a necessary afterthought, Ron focused on the service and add-on markets, then the replacement market as it materialized.” Michel adds that Ron Smith was one of the first contractors to build a business focused primarily on service and add-on/replacements.

    Ron Smith has been a teacher to the industry. He founded Ron Smith & Associates (RS&A), an HVAC-focused training and consulting company based in Roswell, GA, in 1991. “I worked very hard, formed relationships, traveled -- visiting other HVAC companies, educating myself on how to run a successful business,” Smith says. After growing his company, and meeting with the manufacturers, he decided to teach other HVAC dealers how to run a successful company, so he created a year-long training program called “Dominant Market Share.” He says the models developed at that time are still being used today. “Even though technology continues to change, the way we treat customers and co-workers should never change,” Smith adds. Information on Smith’s books and some of his achievements can be found at this site

    Rick Busby, owner of Busby’s Heating & Air Conditioning in Augusta GA., got to know Ron Smith in the early 1990s. Busby says Smith wanted to help contractors offer a unique selling proposition to their customers—something that really set the contractor apart from his/her competitors. “Yes, absolutely, that’s what Dominant Market Share was all about. It made a huge difference in our business,” Busby says. He and Ron Smith continue to be friends. “I wrote a testimonial for him to endorse his 2nd book on “HVAC Spells Wealth”—saying how much Ron had changed not just my business life, but my life in general,” Busby explains.

    Gina Ferrara, owner of LIBERTYAIR Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. in Gainesville, FL, has also found value in Ron Smith’s teachings. “We read Ron’s first book prior to opening our company’s doors. We found it to be a blueprint for a residential/light commercial company. Fourteen years later, we still refer to both of Ron’s books as well as the Energy Savings Agreement (ESA) training manual.”

    Ferrara notes the importance of Ron Smith’s teaching materials. ”These resources have become a bible of sorts for HVAC—a proven way to start and continue a generational business in HVAC.” Ferrara spotlights the biggest lessons contractors learn through Ron’s resources: (1) Empowerment to create a sustainable and successful company that benefits one’s community, one’s co-workers, and one’s family; and (2) HVAC provides professional careers and sustainable jobs/incomes.

    Ron Smith finished the Dominant Market Share program after three years. “I decided after seeing such a need for guidance, I wrote the book ‘HVAC Spells Wealth.’ We shipped the first book in 1998 and continue to ship them almost every day of the week.” Smith says his team has never had a customer who wanted to return his book nor has his team received a complaint that the book was not helpful. Ron Smith also wrote “More & New HVAC Spells Wealth.” He says he has no plans to write a successor to the “More & New” volume.

    Matt Michel says Ron Smith has spawned many cutting-edge industry solutions. “One of Ron’s innovations was the residential service agreement. This allowed him to generate year-round business in a one-season market.  Moreover, he discovered the customer retention power of the service agreement to tie customers to the contractor, leading to a replacement.”  Michel adds that the replacements for service agreement customers brought higher margins and dramatically better close rates.

    Michel says Ron was also the first contractor to hire professional retail salespeople who developed professional presentations. The salespeople, he adds, used presentation books and well-designed work orders and presentation tools. “Two of his first retail salespeople were Charlie Greer and Tom McCart, both members of the Contracting Business Hall of Fame. Under Ron, Tom McCart became the first person in the industry to sell $1 million in the retail add-on/replacement market, one system at a time during a time when systems could be installed for a fraction of today’s prices.”

    Jim Batson, owner of HC Blake Co., Huntsville, AL, says Ron Smith has provided the industry and his firm with a roadmap to success through his knowledge and wisdom. He recalled that back in 2009 his family mechanical company that was started in 1884 was in serious trouble. “We had become 90 percent construction and 10 percent service.” Batson had just purchased the company from his uncle, and the economy was tanking at the time.

    Batson explains: “I went to a Service Roundtable meeting in New Orleans. They were having a meet with a consultant group. I was desperate, so I stood up in a session and asked, ‘Who was the most expensive and best consultant in the room?’” Batson recalls that everyone in the meeting pointed to Ron Smith. Batson concludes: “This started a relationship that took my 126-year-old company from on the brink of collapse to a world-class service company that won a Contractor of the Year Award in 2017.”

    David Holt, Director, National Accounts for National Comfort Institute, Inc., recalls how graciously Ron has volunteered his guidance to anyone in the industry who would ask. “During the pandemic, I reached out to Ron to see if he would help me with a project I was working on with Goodman. In October, 2020, I had the pleasure of getting Ron on a Zoom call with an Atlanta-area startup HVAC contractor to provide advice on growing his business.” Holt says the trio spoke online for hours. ”It was a real joy to see Ron offering advice to this young contractor that he had never met before.”

    Holt continues: “At the end of the session, Ron generously offered to help the young man with any future questions he had at any time. He said ‘I don't want your money - I just want your commitment to be a successful HVAC business owner.’ Kind and generous. That's Ron Smith.”

    CLICK TO READ THE PROCLAMATION

    Contractor Lifeline

    Matt Michel says Ron Smith has spawned many cutting-edge industry solutions. “One of Ron’s innovations was the residential service agreement. This allowed him to generate year-round business in a one-season market.  Moreover, he discovered the customer retention power of the service agreement to tie customers to the contractor, leading to a replacement.”  Michel adds that the replacements for service agreement customers brought higher margins and dramatically better close rates.

    Michel says Ron Smith was also the first contractor to hire professional retail salespeople who developed professional presentations. The salespeople, he adds, used presentation books and well-designed work orders and presentation tools.

    “Two of his first retail salespeople were Charlie Greer and Tom McCart, both members of the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame. Under Ron, Tom McCart became the first person in the industry to sell $1 million in the retail add-on/replacement market, one system at a time during a time when systems could be installed for a fraction of today’s prices.”

    Jim Batson, owner of HC Blake Co., Huntsville, AL, says Ron Smith has provided the industry and his firm with a roadmap to success through his knowledge and wisdom. He recalled that back in 2009 his family mechanical company that was started in 1884 was in serious trouble. “We had become 90 percent construction and 10 percent service.” Batson

    had just purchased the company from his uncle, and the economy was tanking at the time.

    Batson explains: “I went to a Service Roundtable meeting in New Orleans. They were having a meet with a consultant group. I was desperate, so I stood up in a session and asked, ‘Who was the most expensive and best consultant in the room?’” Batson recalls that everyone in the meeting pointed to Ron Smith. Batson concludes: “This started a relationship that took my 126-year-old company from on the brink of collapse to a world-class service company that won a Contractor of the Year Award in 2017.”

    Generous to All

    David Holt, Director, National Accounts for National Comfort Institute, Inc., recalls how graciously Ron has volunteered his guidance to anyone in the industry who would ask. “During the pandemic, I reached out to Ron to see if he would help me with a project I was working on with Goodman. In October, 2020, I had the pleasure of getting Ron on a Zoom call with an Atlanta-area startup HVAC contractor to provide advice on growing his business.” Holt says the trio spoke online for hours. ”It was a real joy to see Ron offering advice to this young contractor that he had never met before.”

    Holt continues: “At the end of the session, Ron generously offered to help the young man with any future questions he had at any time. He said ‘I don't want your money - I just want your commitment to be a successful HVAC business owner.’ Kind and generous. That's Ron Smith.”

    Michael Keating writes for a variety of publications, including NATE Magazine and American City & County. Contact: [email protected]