HVAC Contractors of Excellence: Standard Heating and Air Conditioning

April 2, 2018
Standard Heating and Air Conditioning is working on a successful second chapter, that began in 2003. It also has a second generation of leadership with plans for a long future.

Supporting information provided by Standard Heating and Air Conditioning.

Standard Heating and Air Conditioning was founded in 1939 as Standard Roofing and Heating, by Landis Williams, in Birmingham, Ala. Cooling services were added later, and roofing was dropped as air conditioning’s popularity grew following World War II. Williams was later joined in managing the business by his son Bob, and together they served their many customers as Standard Heating and Air Conditioning.

Meanwhile, Tom Kime — who would eventually take the company to new heights — had grown and graduated from Auburn University with a degree in electrical engineering. He accepted a job offer from Trane, and transferred to LaCrosse, Wisc., to learn HVAC at Trane headquarters. He later worked in distributor sales for Trane in Atlanta and San Francisco, before returning home to Birmingham in 1977. In that year, he joined the Standard company as a sales representative. During this time, a process was put into place for Kime to eventually purchase the company. He obtained full ownership of the business in 1996.

Three years later, Tom Kime sold the company to Comfort Systems, USA which was just starting to go public.

While a part of Comfort Systems, the company grew from approximately 30 employees to more than 90, through acquisitions of other HVAC businesses, and it began to concentrate on commercial projects, which was the Comfort Systems wheelhouse.

Tom Kime returned to purchase the company back from Comfort Systems in 2003, and he repositioned it to its original role as a residential comfort company.

Standard’s philosophy became: “People do business with people they like and trust.”

Tom’s son Tyler is now at the helm, guiding Standard into the future. He joined the team in 2005, after obtaining a finance degree from Auburn University and working for two years in banking. Eager to learn the business, he started as a helper with an installation crew, and devoted many spare minutes to studying the science of HVAC, some of which was familiar to him from his physics studies at Auburn. He gradually moved into other departments, to gain a full knowledge of HVAC business operations, including sales, residential cons  truction sales, home performance sales and now, as general manager, since May 2015.

Energized for Energy Services

The company’s energy business originated when it began to offer energy auditing services by Dr. Energy Saver. They now use Attic Systems, a division of Dr. Energy Saver, which offers attic repair and sealing to conserve energy. Attic

Systems dealers are trained to help homeowners fully understand what it takes to fix their attics correctly and completely.

“We still are in the process of learning it. It’s been hard to get going. But we still practice it,” Tyler Kime says.“I think it’s important to find and solve a lot of those issues we couldn’t fix beforehand. I went out on a limb and learned building science. I found it to be fascinating. It really helped me with my leadership growth, by knowing what to do and why to do it.”

Standard was originally a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer since its inception, and Tom Kime was a two-time Carrier President’s Award winner. He was inducted into the Carrier Hall of Fame in 2012. Standard is now a Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer.

Standard’s employee count hovers at around 65. It employs 16 field technicians, nine installation teams, five plumbers and three field managers for installation, service, maintenance and demand service.

Half of the Standard technician team has obtained North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification.

Market Focus
Standard Heating and Air Conditioning’s customers range from homes with single comfort systems, to much larger multi-level dwellings that use a variety of comfort system combinations. It targets specific zip codes rather than try to spread resources over a wide service radius.

“We work on a wide variety of homes, from a basic home with one comfort system to a custom home with 10; we see it all,” Kime says. “One area of our work is in very affluent neighborhoods, so we get to see some amazing homes, which can also present cooling challenges. Several years back we had the task of adding air conditioning to a 100-year-old home that was half-house and half-castle. The home had 12-in. thick concrete walls. It was very challenging to find ways to run ductwork, where to put the equipment, and how to get tubing and drains out.”

The company’s success has been accelerated through its membership in Service Nation Alliance.

“That’s been one of our biggest changes,” Kime says. “It’s been fantastic for me, because I get to hold a weekly call with my peers. As a young manager, Service Nation has helped me grow in understanding, and I can bounce ideas off of the others in my peer group.”

Kime will serve as an emcee for the Service Nation International meeting, April 4-6 in New Orleans.

The Standard Difference
When asked to describe what it is that puts Standard at higher level of service, Kime admits it’ s a tough question.“Because, I think just about everybody in our field says, ‘we are the best at customer service,'" he shares.

“I think the main difference is there are those that deliver and those that don’t, and we deliver. We always take care of the customers. If necessary, we lose a battle and win the war. You have to do that to keep customers. It’s tough to get new ones. We go above an beyond. It’s amazing to hear people say a contractor didn’t keep an appointment, and then didn’t call to explain why. We do what we say we’re going to do. It’s amazing how few negative comments we get. We get tons of positive comments that far outweigh the negative," Kime says. “We walk the talk and provide an elevated level of service to our customers and team members. We made our mark by solving complex problems that others couldn’t fix or didn’t want to take on. We focus on overall system performance, the equipment, the ductwork, and the home envelope and that helps differentiate us from our competitors who just service and fix the equipment.”

Congratulations to Standard Heating and Air Conditioning Company of Birmingham, Alabama. Your integrity and common sense approach to service earns you a place as a Contracting Business 2018 HVAC Contractor of Excellence!

Standard Heating and Air Conditioning

Birmingham, Ala.
Founded 1939 as Standard Roofing and Heating
Acquired by Tom Kime in 1997, and renamed Standard Heating and Air Conditioning.
Sold to Comfort Systems in the late 1990s.
Re-acquired from Comfort Systems by Tom Kime
in 2003
Tom Kime is a member of the Carrier Hall of Fame
Services: HVAC installation and service, plumbing and energy services.
Bryant Factory Authorized Dealer
Employees: 65
NATE Certifications for technicians
Member, Service Nation Alliance
Management team: Tyler Kime; Bill Holder; Kimberly Merritt; Porter Hutton; Darby Hale; Michelle Preston.
Company Philosophy: “People do business with people they like and trust.”

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.