FLEETWOOD-No matter how many times they’ve seen it, Chad and Randall Scott say they never get tired of watching a crane hoist a giant heating and cooling system into the air.
“It’s like art to see somebody pick this massive thing up with a crane and place it gently on a roof,” Randall Scott, co-owner of Fleetwood’s Scott Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning, said. “It’s fun to watch every time.”
And these days, the Scott Brothers are watching more HVAC systems go airborne than ever before thanks to a growing list of commercial clients. Ashe Memorial Hospital, for instance, recently turned to the company to install two new super sized HVAC systems to replace its aging rooftop units. Jobs like that lead the company to believe revenues will grow by some 15 percent this year alone.
Commercial install and maintenance work is a niche Scott Brothers has taken advantage of sporadically since the duo founded the company more than a quarter century ago, but it’s really only been the last year that its commercial business has picked up in a big way.
“We’ve done some small commercial stuff over the years,” Chad Scott said. “But the bigger stuff like the hospital systems have really only started to roll in over the last 12 months or so. We’re focusing more on commercial work these days than ever before.”
That’s a bit of a departure from the two man shop the Scotts launched in 1991 at the urging of their father. While working as an electrical lineman the elder Scott came to the realization the High Country lacked a solid base of heating and air contractors, and told his sons as much. “Turns out he was right,” Randall Scott said in previous interviews with the Jefferson Post.
The pair combined their own unique skill sets and have never looked back. Scott Brothers has survived multiple recessions and big shifts in HVAC technology and industry standards since getting their start at the tail end of the George H.W. Bush administration, and for nearly the company’s entire history its relied on just two service technicians.
But that number has doubled since 2015, thanks in large part to the company’s new emphasis on commercial installs and repairs.
“For our first 23 years we basically worked with two service guys,” Chad Scott said. “Last year we were able to justify adding number three and within a year we’re adding our fourth. That’s how much we’ve seen things move.”
And while commercial sized heating and cooling systems work in a nearly identical manner to their smaller residential cousins, Randall Scott said the company has to approach their clients in a slightly different manner.
“On the commercial side it’s all about being able to effectively explain exactly what their return on investment will be,” Randall Scott said. “How will this system affect their bottom line? And they want to be assured that when something does come up, that you’ve got the manpower to make sure it gets taken care of right then. That’s been the main reason we’ve added a fourth service tech, to make sure we’ve got the guys on staff to work through service and repair issues for clients that just can’t wait.”
The company’s second largest growth market? The exploding demand in recent years for new ductless “mini-split” heat pump systems like those produced by Mitsubishi. The system’s relatively small footprint allows homeowners to heat and cool individual rooms without the expense that comes with larger outdoor heat pumps designed for an entire home.
“The main application works for something like a bonus room, den or a garage that somebody has decided to finish out and a traditional system doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Randall Scott said. “So you can quickly add a truly quiet, energy efficient mini-split system without a lot of hassle.”
Chad Scott said the company may have installed just 10-12 systems a year when mini-split units first hit the market, growing to 25 units in 2015. But sales nearly tripled in 2016 as the company installed upwards of 70 mini-split systems.
“And we can’t take all the credit for that jump,” Randall Scott said. “That’s been the trend throughout the entire industry, and we think we’re going to see much more growth this year.”
Mini-split systems are significantly more efficient than their traditional heat pump counterparts, Randall Scott said, and they don’t require a homeowner to utilize a backup heating source when temperatures plunge below freezing.
“No matter how cold it gets, these things are going to continue to work exactly like they should,” Chad Scott said.
Combined with the fact that multiple minisplits can be combined to create a flexible whole home heating and cooling system, and the brothers say they’re not surprised at the system’s popularity. “We’ve even had clients that close off most of their home and heat a single room with a mini-split,” Randall Scott said. “That’s kind of a no fuss solution, but they allow you that kind of flexibility.”
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.