HVAC equipment: Protecting your investment
Well-maintained HVAC systems deliver optimum comfort, savings and energy efficiency, along with an extended effective life.
Chain Store Age spoke with Frank Bacchetta, CEO of Total Comfort Group, about what retailers need to know about this critical investment.
What’s the best way for a retailer to protect its HVAC investment?
A proper preventive maintenance program that varies by region is key to prolonging the life cycle of the equipment. The one-size-fits-all approach is no longer viable with the change in weather patterns and equipment standards. Frequency of coil cleanings, filter changes and visits will vary based on location.
What should retailers know about HVAC installation?
Installation is just as important — or more important — than the selection of the equipment. There are a lot of factors at play when installing equipment. And if not installed properly, it will not work to design specifications. As a factory authorized agent, we partner with York National Accounts to provide Factory Authorized Startup (FAS) for clients across the country.
To verify operations, we check the following (but not limited to): economizer setup, economizer operations, air flow, refrigeration cycle operations, gas pressures and proper installation as per submittal. Proper installation as per manufacture design is paramount along with partnering with the correct vendor.
Are there any new HVAC regulations, etc., that retailers need to be aware of?
The Department of Energy has begun to implement new energy standards this year. phase 1 focuses on energy-efficiency increases in all air-conditioning RTUs by 10% as of Jan. 1.
Phase 2, slated for 2023, will raise the increases up to 30% and will include warm-air furnaces, as well.
Prices will rise and fluctuate as manufacturers continue to revamp and create new product lines to meet the change in code and keep up with consumer demand.
Tell us about Total Comfort Group and the services it provides.
Total Comfort Group is a regional self-performing contractor with a national reach. We provide electrical, plumbing, HVAC and refrigeration services nationwide to our clients. As a multitrade self-performing contractor, we have the ability to provide services on a scaled approach that allows us to handle any request start to finish.
Our benefit is that we can manage any MEP request without having multiple contractors involved. This allows for steamlined communications and quicker resolutions to emergency requests.
How is the company positioned in the marketplace?
Total Comfort serves commercial multisite retailers, restaurants, banks and healthcare facilities nationwide.
As a self-performing contractor, it gives us a unique position in the market. As we continue to manage and solve requests across multiple designs and conditions, our team is building standards to be shared across all clients.
We leverage technology for virtual on-site meetings, photo documentation and direct access to our technicians so nothing gets lost in translation. As we self-perform the majority of our work, it allows for more consistency and better agility to solve requests in a timely and cost-effective manner.
How do you provide support?
Customer support and the flow of information is a huge part of the service we provide. As facility departments are constantly being asked to do more with less, we have had to implement a tiered support system. All of our requests and communications run through our managed services center (MSC). As requests are made and verified, they are then directed to the appropriate team for processing with the direct oversight of an account manager.
As the process progresses, we are keeping track of when it was last touched, resolution time and ensuring we are meeting or exceeding the customer’s SLA. Our account managers are an extension of our clients and are available 24/7, as most emergencies happen after or before hours.
How has technology impacted the HVAC industry and your business?
We are in an exciting time of transformation. With efficiencies and standards changing, the industry has come a long way. Today, you can connect to a unit through Wi-Fi with service tools and gather diagnostics, check operations and set parameters that were otherwise analog a short time ago.
Technology has transformed the way you think as a technician and put critical information at your fingertips to allow for better diagnostics.
As a company, we leverage these tools for oversight and technical review. We utilize trending, screen shots of parameters and photos (before/after) of repairs. All of these benefits are then passed on to our clients to provide complete transparency for repairs and installations.