Last month, we had the opportunity to do a Q and A session with one of our providers out east - Top Mechanical Service. Keep in mind, in some areas of Massachusetts, Pivotal Home Solutions is referred to as “Columbia Home Solutions.”
1. How did you guys get started with Columbia Home Solutions?
STEVE: Ray and I have been friends for 25 years or more, and I’d say he’s the one who really got me into the trade when I was 18 years old. When he opened Top Mechanical, we worked together to get it off the ground. I pretty much knew how Columbia Home Solutions worked from my time with another company that did work with you guys, so I’ve been doing it here from the start.
RAY: Steve clued me in about you guys and it sounded like a home run to me. It’s been a great basis for our business, and it’s still good for our business. We look forward to continuing and growing.
2. How long have you been in business?
STEVE: We’ve been in business 5 years now. I was always mechanically-inclined.
RAY: I’ve been in the service industry for about 30 years. I started with refrigeration, in the commercial business – over-the-road bus air conditioning, restaurant equipment. That was my first job in the business – with restaurant equipment. But, I didn’t care for the corporate world too much.
I was looking for something I was familiar with, and I knew that I can definitely do heating and air conditioning.
3. How has your company grown?
STEVE: We’ve grown tremendously by word of mouth. We don’t do a ton of advertising. We do a little because we want to grow, obviously. Our word of mouth is huge, though. We are very good with our customers. We do very good work. If you respect the people you do work for, they’ll respect you, too. That’s our motto, really.
RAY: We spend extra time talking to the customers, and that’s huge for some people. You learn a lot of history – that something happened two or three years ago – where it helped us to find recurring problems. We learn about ourselves and our customer service the most when talking with the homeowners. We learn about what people want and what service they are looking for.
STEVE: Talking to customers gives us a chance to let them know we are a local business. We are here to help them. We aren’t here to just give you what you need and then go out the door. That’s what a lot of people do. They send technicians in and they go to make the repair. They aren’t concerned for the needs of the customer as the homeowner. People are having us come into their home to resolve a problem for them, so we will respect them and they’ll respect us right back.
4. Are you guys involved in the community?
STEVE: We are season ticket holders to a local American Hockey League team here, and sometimes they will have events for kids in need, and we will donate to those. My daughter is on the cheerleading team for my hometown, so we donate to the cheerleaders and stuff like that. There is a unify against bullying organization we contribute to, and we are going to be one of their sponsors at a talent show they are putting on.
RAY: They just rebuilt a homeless shelter, too.
STEVE: We did work for the Boys and Girls Club and we donated our labor to repair some equipment.
5. What do you do when you aren’t working?
STEVE: Hockey! We are pretty busy. I have to say, some days we don’t get out of work until 7:30 or 8:00 at night (RAY: or later!). We work a lot. But when we do have a chance to go to a hockey game, there is someone always on call to handle heating or cooling issues with our customers.
6. How many technicians do you have on your team?
STEVE: We are a pretty small company. We have two technicians that do most customer repair work – Ray and I. We also have some install people we work with who do boiler and furnace installations – the bigger stuff that Ray and I don’t have the time ourselves to do.
RAY: Don’t forget Melissa in the office. We are a pretty small company.
STEVE: Melissa does most of our office stuff and takes care of the customers by answering the phones and emails. We pride ourselves on not having an answering service. It’s easier for us to have Melissa take the calls and emails. Our office is basically just an office - it has a computer, fax machine and a phone, and that’s pretty much it.
7. What’s the key to being successful in your business in your area?
STEVE: Customer service is the best way for us to succeed. The way we treat our customers is what makes people want to help us grow the business. They want to make sure you succeed, so if they need you again, they can come back to you. It’s pretty amazing that people do that. We don’t know these people, and you just do the right thing, resolve the issues they’re having, and it seems to be working. I hope it continues to work.
8. What is it that you like about working with Columbia Home Solutions?
RAY: You guys helped us get our business off the ground. We do what we have to do for you guys, and we certainly appreciate what you’ve done.
9. What excites you the most about the work you do?
STEVE: We like to help people. That excites us. Some places you go into and people are in need, and it makes you feel good to help them out – like elderly people, for example. When we get a repair call and it’s for an elderly person, we do our best to squeeze them in and get them taken care of as soon as we can.