Last month Southern California Edison announced that we were their AC Quality Installation Contractor of the year. That came as a huge surprise to us because in the past the award had been given out based on the number of jobs completed, some thing that we were not in the running for. This year SCE based the award on the contractors quality and commitment to quality installations. We are very proud to be selected from such a elite group of contractors. Below is an article that was written in the April 2011 edition of Indoor Comfort News, a industry trade magazine.
Henry Bush Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Edison’s AC Quality Installation Contractor of the Year
By Peter Landau, Editor, Indoor Comfort News
Tyler Miner, president of Redlands, Calif.-based Henry Bush Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, has come a long way from a contractor who focused more on plumbing than heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) to the winner of Edison’s 2010 A/C Quality Installation Contractor of the Year.
Miner craved standards for quality HVAC installation. When he heard of the A/C Quality Installation program from Southern California Edison (SCE) he jumped at the opportunity to learn the tools to take his business to the next level. “They taught me how to truly pick the right sized ducts, how to size the equipment properly for the house and how to do a load calculation,” Miner said. “Over the last year and a half of participating in the program I made the decision that this was the right course of action for my business and I would apply the knowledge acquired from A/C Quality Installation to all my jobs. I adapted the A/C Quality guidelines to become an expert at my trade.”
Originally, the lure of rebate money was the catalyst that attracted Miner to the A/C Quality Installation program. “Obviously, rebates help sell jobs,” he said. “However, often the motive behind the rebates is not about quality. A/C Quality Installation is not about volume; it’s about quality. This encourages the contractors to do the right thing.”
A/C Quality Installation gave Miner mentors, professionals that he could ask for assistance when he needed it, and that was exactly what he was looking for in the program. “There are great resources in the program and it provided the motivation I needed to take my business to the next level,” he said.
“Henry Bush is a prime example of the market transformation that SCE is trying to accomplish with its entire suite of HVAC products (i.e., moving contractors from a low-cost to a quality-based business),” said Paul Kyllo, SCE. “The common assumption is that customers won’t pay for these types of upgrades, but Henry Bush is making it work and is building their business around providing real quality to customers and ensuring that comfort issues are fully identified and dealt with.”
He added, “SCE is pleased to give this award to Redlands Plumbing as they truly exemplify what it means to be a ‘Quality Contractor’. Tyler has built a first class company and it shows in the work that they do for our Energy Star Quality Installation program.”
“It was a surprise,” Miner said as the recipient of the A/C Quality Installation Contractor of the Year. “To be recognized for the quality of our work was very rewarding. It means a lot. Edison offers an elite program. Not every contractor can do it; many opt out or fail to qualify. To be named the contractor of the year from such an elite group makes the recognition that much more special.”
Henry Bush Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning is also an approved contractor for the Energy Upgrade California program, but have not yet done any work for the program. Miner has concerns about the Energy Upgrade California program. “A general contractor has no place in the HVAC trade, just as I have no business in building a house,” he said. “My understanding of building science is probably a whole lot better than the average general contractor.” He fears that technical excellence is not the motivating factor for the program, but rather to put people back to work or reeducate them into a new trade. “That scares me, not understanding the full consequences of what they’re doing,” he added. “If the A/C Quality Installation program was written into the Energy Upgrade California program then we would have proven guidelines that the HVAC work was being done correctly.”
What brought Miner to the Energy Upgrade California program was applying home science to performance contracting. “Everything that the HVAC guy is fighting when he puts a system into a home has to do with the building envelope—the insulation, the ducts not being sealed properly, etc.—which impacts the overall comfort. And we’re the ones who are blamed when the customer is uncomfortable.”
Miner plans to do a home-performance job first on an employee’s home to get the test-in/test-out data to quantify the energy savings. “We’re going to see that what we said would happen is actually happening,” he said. “We already do the test-in/test-out in our regular jobs. It’s part of our sales process.”
While A/C Quality Installation is working to advance the quality of HVAC installation, Miner does not believe it will impact the smaller contractor that is just into moving equipment. He sees more stringent code regulations as more likely to weed out the poorly performing contractor, but only if the state ramps up its enforcement to give its penalties teeth. “We’re not waiting for them to level the playing field,” he said. “We’re taking pride in doing our work properly and to code, pulling permits, even if it costs more. I would prefer to walk away from a job that wants me to cut corners. I don’t want bottom-end jobs. I don’t sell on price.”
Henry Bush was started in 1898 in Riverside, Calif. It moved to Redlands in 1902. Henry Bush has been a family run business for almost 100 years. The company has been located at 429 Texas Street since 1978. Miner started working for Henry Bush when he was a junior in high school, in 1991, taking a summer job washing trucks and as a parts runner. When school started, he worked part time and continued working part time through college. Upon graduation he became a full-time service plumber, moving into HVAC as a service supervisor and working his way up to operations manager in 2002. In 2007, Miner bought the company.
“My service manager has been with us for 27 years,” Miner said. “My parts guy has been here 21 years. We pride ourselves on the longevity of our staff.”
Henry Bush employs 34 personnel, with 10 service trucks. Redlands does service for plumbing and HVAC, 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial. On the installation side, Redlands is 90 percent residential replacement. HVAC was added to the company’s services in 1992.
Miner has recently been elected to the board of directors for the Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries, Inc. (IHACI). “We had been taking advantage of IHACI for its trainings,” he said. “Most of my guys got their North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification through IHACI. I meet Scott Johnson and took his classes with IHACI and the National Comfort Institute (NCI). I went to John Dalton’s classes. If I wanted to be an industry leader, I need to know what is going on in the industry, so I joined IHACI.”
Being on the board of directors of IHACI is going to be a learning experience, Miner said. “I always thought: Do I just want to be a contractor who runs a business or do I want to be a part of the industry? Sometimes the industry frustrates me—the lack of quality work, legislative issues, enforcement, etc. I need to participate, learn about my industry and become a better contractor and person and give back to the trade that’s been so good to me.”