Local maintenance company among top 10 a/c dealers in country
For 28 years, Alan’s Air Conditioning Service Inc. has been serving Plant City and other neighboring towns in Florida, providing a cool, indoor atmosphere from the sweltering heat.
This year, its maintenance has earned it the Ruud Air Conditioning’s Pro Partner award for 2021. It is one of 10 air conditioning services in the country that has received the accolade.
“We attribute a lot of that to actually having equipment,” said Brian Lewis, co-owner of Alan’s A/C Service. “People want to go somewhere where somebody has the equipment to go ahead and put in. We were one of the few that really didn’t have a problem with that.”
The company met all of the 2021 Top Pro Partner Performance criteria:
• 2021 product sales
• Total variable speed and/or inverter systems purchased
• Contractor year over year growth
• Certifications and memberships
• Online reviews rating
• Ruud Pro Partner Program participation
• Distributor rating
Ferguson HVAC, a supplier and distributor for Alan’s A/C, worked in conjunction with Ruud in order to award the company.
Brian started doing A/C work at age 14 when his father, Alan, was working for a company. In 1994, Alan went on to establish Alan’s A/C, which was based out of his Plant City home. After school or during summer break, Brian would assist his father in doing installations. His grandfather, who was a retired TECO employee, also worked with the company and assisted with the electrical side of the operations.
From the start, word-of-mouth was the best type of promotion they could use, Brian said.
“My dad started doing work for a lot of churches right out of the gate,” he said. “That’s the way he was able to grow his business without really having to spend a lot of advertising dollars.”
During college, he worked at Publix and saw a potential career opportunity there, having no interest in A/C work. When that plan did not pan out the way he wanted it to, Brian turned to a more blue-collar line of work with construction.
“With the construction industry, you get laid off a lot waiting on the next job,” he said. “Every time I’d get laid off, my dad was continuing to try and grow the business. He would work me until I got another construction job.”
While the A/C company was a steady job for Brian, he was reluctant to come aboard fulltime. The construction jobs that he did get, provided a more substantial income than his father’s company did, he said.
However, Alan was able to put things in perspective for him.
“Maybe I can’t afford you now, but I can teach you a trade (where) you’ll always have a job, you’ll always be employed,” Brian recalled his father telling him. “Whether you take this business over one day, (or) start your own business, you’ll actually have a trade that you can take with you throughout your whole life.”
Brian then decided to take up a fulltime position with the business.
In 2013, Brian bought the company from Alan and began to manage it with his wife Tiffany.
“Using Plant City, our hometown, as the foundation, has allowed us to offer more services and go outside of Plant City into neighboring communities,” Tiffany said.
Alan’s A/C gradually began to do work throughout Tampa Bay, and eventually expand beyond that region.
“We have clients who either have a lot of rentals on one area and they use us down here, and they want to continue using us, or we have some investment clients that are basically doing a bunch of remodeling work,” Brian said.
To accommodate the growth in customers and inventory, Brian and Tiffany had taken the business from Alan’s home and relocated into the former property of Bell’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, owned by Charlie Bell.
Charlie would occasionally come by the office to check on its new occupants and offer any assistance.
“We were very blessed to have his wisdom and guidance,” Tiffany said. “It speaks to the type of community we live in to have another business owner come along and mentor and help us out.”
As business continued to flourish, the company moved to a property on Mercantile Court in Plant City. It spanned about 5,500 square feet, which Brian and Tiffany thought would be all the adequate space needed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the A/C company was able to roll with the punches being that they provided a service that would be needed with or without the pandemic. Its excess inventory kept them well-stocked with equipment, while other businesses were struggling.
Alan’s A/C started distributing products that other establishments were lacking and it began to grow.
In the midst of the pandemic, the company was offering indoor air quality giveaways with items such as air scrubbers and carbon air filtration systems.
Since then, it has relocated to its current property on Alexander Street. It is 15,000 square feet with a much more spacious warehouse.
Alan’s AC now has 25 employees and up to 20 company vehicles. It also has added on new services such as insulation work, duct cleaning, and dryer vent cleaning, with plans to incorporate plumbing in the next few months.
It was a step Brian and Tiffany decided to take seeing the demand for other kinds of work outside of air conditioning repair or installation.
A lot of their new workers may be guys in their 20s or right out of high school. Like his father once told him, Brian explains to them that he can teach them a trade they can use for the rest of their lives.
“We have a saying around here: We do it the Alan’s way.”