David Richardson/NCI
Interior Hvac Diagram
David Richardson/NCI
If you know what to look for, a visual inspection provides clues to unsafe operation. It's never good for one package unit to exhaust into the economizer of an adjacent unit.
National Comfort Institute
Before you jump on the heat pump bashing bandwagon, look at your duct installation practices first.
Contracting Business/Kelly L Faloon
Ahr2023 Succession

Tools of the Trade

Sept. 1, 2005
Welcome to the newest department in Contracting Business magazine. Here we look at the products, tools, and services that make a contractor successful.

Welcome to the newest department in Contracting Business magazine. Here we look at the products, tools, and services that make a contractor successful. Each month we'll pick a contracting firm — past winners of our Contractor of the Year Award, winners of either a Quality Home Comfort Award or a Design/Build Award, and other nationally recognized figures — and see what tools of the trade they prefer and that help make them successful.

Commercial Design Engineering, Ltd. Colorado Springs, CO

Mary Garvelink is co-owner and comptroller of Commercial Design Engineering, Ltd. in Colorado Springs, CO. The $12 to $15 million mechanical contractor specializes in commercial and institutional new construction, renovation, and remodeling projects and high-end condominum work. She is also president of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association and Contracting Business'2004 Woman of the Year. Here is Mary's list of the tools used in her company's trucks, office, and shop.


Number and type of trucks/vans: 2 vans; 18 pickups with various beds; 3 delivery stake trucks and one diesel HD hauling fifth wheel-type combination trailer, truck delivery unit. Brands include Ford and GMC.

  • Inventory on trucks/vans: Only what is needed to complete a specific project.
  • Preferred test instruments technicians carry: Fluke.
  • Preferred brand of ladders: Werner.
  • Preferred field communications method: Nextel phone/Blackberry, and Nextel wireless Internet link.
  • Preferred wireless field service software: We use a Microsoft-based program to generate our own daily reports, time cards, requests for information, change orders, and injury reports. We also have a Nextel wireless interlink with the office.


  • Preferred business management software: For accounting and job costing: Marathon and Quicken.
  • Preferred estimating software: Estimation.
  • Preferred CAD: Auto CAD 2000.
  • Preferred computer/ printer equipment: Desktop computers: Dell. Portable: Toshiba and Dell. Printers: Hewlett Packard
  • Preferred photocopier equipment: Toshiba.
  • Business connection to the Internet via: T-1 line.
  • Preferred scheduling software: Microsoft Project and Primavera.
  • Preferred uniform supplier: Wearguard and Aramark.
  • Credit Cards Accepted: N/A.


  • Preferred HVAC heating equipment brands: Carrier and McQuay.
  • Preferred HVAC cooling equipment brands: Carrier and McQuay.
  • Warehouse equipment: Overhead cranes: Shaw-Box. Forklifts: Hyster. Hand carts: Dayton.
  • Amount of equipment inventoried: We inventory equipment purchased for use on specific scheduled projects.
  • Other shop equipment used: Coil line fabrication: Iowa Precision Fitting. Fabrication: Vulcan plasma cutter, Roto Die sheet metal brakes, Roper Whitney shears, Lockformer miscellaneous dies and formers.