Putting Clients First

Control Air Conditioning Corporation
Written by Ryan Cartner

Control Air Conditioning Corporation is a leading private mechanical contractor offering heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing installation services in the state of California.
The company was started as a small family-owned operation in 1978 by two brothers, Ken and Stan Ellis, out of their garage in Anaheim, California. From this humble beginning, the company has grown into one of the largest full mechanical contracting company in the state. It started with small-scale development projects and eventually built a reputation within the industry that let it take on more challenging work.

In the 1990s, the company hit its stride as it began to win bids on large hospital projects. Control Air worked on many of these projects, built an expertise in the specific needs of hospitals, and became known as the go-to company for hospitals in the California mechanical market.

Today, Control Air is the most qualified company in the area for these types of projects, and as a result, it has built strong partnerships with some of the most prominent medical facilities’ companies that operate in the region including Kaiser Permanente and Hoag. Not the kind of company to rest on laurels, Control Air leveraged this success to expand into other industrial and commercial sectors.

Today, the company serves many industries including hospitality, education, entertainment, government, offices, resorts, medical facilities, laboratories, and much more.

Being a full mechanical contractor, Control Air has in-house divisions to handle every phase of a project from beginning to end. It has control, service, engineering, and detailing divisions. Structuring the business in this way means that it completes a project without relying on extensive subcontracting, and this enables the company to have an outstanding level of quality control over the entire operation.

It operates in a very competitive market, and as a result, it is continually forced to innovate to serve its customers best. Reducing the amount of subcontracted work by bringing most of the work in-house, has given Control Air a solid competitive edge.

It can come into a project right from the start, but often it is called on to work within the confines of an existing building. Tenant improvement projects make up a good portion of the company’s business. When a building has already been built and the tenant needs an upgrade to the HVAC system, Control Air can replace the entire system while the customer is still in the building. The company has worked on tenant improvement projects for massive companies like Monster and Vans that had HVAC needs but could not have any downtime.

Having such a diverse collection of jobs available within the company has helped it build an unusually long-tenured workforce. Employees of Control Air can move around the company filling positions in different divisions, and this is one way that the company has been able to minimize attrition and retain employees in the long term. There are many employees who have been with the company for twenty or even thirty years.

The nature of the projects that the company takes on helps to foster an environment wherein workers can experience many types of project work. Employees have opportunities to refine skills across the full breadth of mechanical contracting, and they can gain a great deal of experience to help launch them further in their careers.

The company operates out of three facilities. Its headquarters is located in Anaheim, California and consists of a 220,000-square-foot fabrication facility with another 180,000 square feet of office space. The second facility is located in San Francisco, and the third is in San Diego. The company employs roughly one thousand people across all three locations.

The company has grown extensively since its inception, but it is a point of pride for it that it is still family-owned and entirely debt free. It owns all of its facilities and the land on which those facilities are built, and this financial strength enabled it to ride out the economic downturn in 2008. Being a family-owned business is a tremendous advantage because it means that when the company leadership commits to something, the customer can trust in that promise because the company is not obliged to please shareholders.

Control Air is also dedicated to charitable endeavors. Each year, the company allocates ten percent of its profit to charities – both domestic and foreign – through a nonprofit foundation of the company known as the Ellis Foundation. The foundation has contributed millions of dollars over the last ten years to charitable ventures that include building water wells in Africa, education projects in South America, and food distribution networks in Anaheim.

For example, the company partnered with an organization called Samaritan’s Purse, a charity that funds heart operations for children in impoverished countries. Through this outreach, it helped to save the lives of eighteen children last year. Pictures of those children now adorn the walls of the Control Air headquarters building to remind employees that the work they do has an impact. “Yes, we’re a mechanical contracting company, but in truth, we’re a humanitarian organization,” says Control Air Chief Marketing Officer Joshua Buckley. “We’re on this Earth for a limited amount of time, and we want to make the maximum impact, and for us that means helping others.”

The company’s service department is often called on to perform service operations on equipment that makes use of R-22 refrigerant. R-22 is an environmental concern because it depletes ozone and has a high global warming potential (GWP), which is a measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. R-22 has been gradually phased out of new equipment, but a lot of older equipment that uses it is still in operation. The Environmental Protection Agency has instituted a ban on the refrigerant that will go into effect in 2020. This is a major concern for many of Control Air’s clients because replacing the equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

To help clients find a solution that is compliant with regulations, environmentally sustainable, and less expensive than the cost of replacing equipment, Control Air has partnered with a company called Bluon. The two have worked on a replacement for R-22 that allows customers to upgrade old equipment rather than replacing it with something entirely new. The upgraded equipment uses a new refrigerant called TdX 20. Upgraded systems can reduce energy costs by up to twenty-five percent and improve the general performance of the equipment because TdX 20 allows it to operate more efficiently with a reduced carbon footprint.

Through this venture Control Air has helped clients save up to ninety percent on the costs they would have seen if they had to replace the R-22 equipment. “We could make more money by replacing a unit than we could replacing the refrigerant,” says Buckley, “but we’re going to do right by them by offering a much cheaper solution to the problem.”

Control Air is built on a foundation of giving back. Whether it is to the customer base that has helped the company achieve so much success or to the communities it operates within, both locally and globally, helping is the point. “Control Air is here to make a difference,” says Buckley. “If we help grow this company, then we can give more.”

From its genesis as a two-man operation to the impressive success the company has achieved, it has never lost sight of its values. Still family owned and forever faithful to family values, Control Air is making a difference. Providing the highest quality mechanical contracting work to customers and the highest quality humanitarian work to the global community, Control Air will continue to be an asset to California and the world.



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