Walker Bros. Heating and Air Conditioning Takes Pride in "Small"
Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
According to Grant Walker, Walker Bros. Heating and Air Conditioning Co. takes pride in its family name, its business and in keeping its “small business” operating as efficiently as possible. Grant represents the third generation to work in the family-owned and operated business.
"We focus on doing the small things right. My father is 63 years old and he still works every weekday from 8 to 5 or longer, meeting with customers, getting up in attics and under houses. He demonstrates everyday what it takes to operate a small business," Grant said.
"Ours has always been a small business; never more than 20 employees. We enjoy the challenge of trying to do the most, with less. This takes organization by all, good communication, dedicated employees and getting the job done in a professional and timely manner."
Grant's father, Glenn Walker, founded Walker Bros. in 1984. The original Walker family heating and air conditioning company was founded by Grant's grandfather in 1965, but was sold after his death in 1983. Walker Bros. focuses on residential and light commercial HVAC work.
"We certainly understand our limits and never take on a job that is too big for our capabilities, but there is never a job too small. Our work ranges from new construction commercial projects to all forms of residential work, change outs, duct repair and even real estate resale inspections. Our service department is one of the most experienced in town," Grant said.
"We keep it local – anything within an hour or an hour and a half travel time. And we manage our business so our hard work during the week leads to a little relaxation on the weekends. We also allow our men to take vacation time in the summer, when we’re the busiest. They deserve it– it's just how we do business as a family."
Seeing a More Active Market
Although Grant has worked in the business since he was in the sixth grade, he didn't join as a full-time employee until the spring of 2010 – in the middle of the economic downturn. As a result, he has yet to experience a boom time in the business.
"We’re seeing more activity now but it may be more of a seasonal factor than anything else," Grant said. "The HVAC industry likes extremes. When it’s real hot or real cold, we get busy.”
When the weather is mild, Walker Bros. depends on new construction for a bigger share of its business. However as new home construction has decreased, this part of the business has become very competitive.
"It’s been tough for all contractors to land jobs. As new construction slowed, bidding on work became even more cut throat. This is where our reputation helps out," Grant said.
In terms of product innovations, technology is becoming more popular in controlling heating and air conditioning systems, according to Grant. Programmable thermostats are easier to operate and can be controlled remotely over the Internet via a smartphone.
In addition, air conditioning units themselves are always becoming more efficient, with higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio or SEER ratings. A SEER rating is the cooling output of a unit in a typical cooling season divided by the electric energy input. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 10 or less. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and can even go up to a SEER above 20. Walker Bros. also offers a preventive maintenance program to keep systems performing as efficiently as possible throughout the year.
Grant and Walker Bros. believe in giving back to the community with both time and money. He is a member of the board of directors of the Artesian Sertoma Club, which is focused on hearing health and community service. Grant has also helped with events benefitting The Willson Hospice House, The Parks at Chehaw, The Flint Riverquarium and the Albany Marathon.
"Albany has so many great organizations and great places that need more support," Grant said. "Individually, I pick out what I'm passionate about and then do what I can to help."
For more information on Walker Bros. Heating and Air Conditioning Co., visit them on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/WalkerBrothers or call (229) 439-1669.