Building Controls and Services Inc. (BCS) provides a unique blend of high-end HVAC system products and services that include Building Automation, Facility and Energy Management Systems, Mechanical Equipment, Security Systems, Expertise and Training, as well as a premier Service and Parts department to back it all up.
BCS was founded in 1985, following the introduction of Direct Digital Controls (DDC) in the local construction industry, and was one of the first companies in Wichita, Kansas to embrace the new DDC technology. Specializing in HVAC services and new DDC systems, the company steadily grew to become a local market leader and gain status as a leading Independent Field Office (IFO) for Siemens Industry, Inc.
Fast forward to 2019. BCS has expanded the products it offers to include HVAC equipment from AAON, LG, ClimateCraft, Dunham-Bush, Yaskawa, and Climate by Design International (CDI), among others, along with the addition of Delta Controls and KMC Controls in Kansas City, as well as supporting Security lines from DSX, Bosch, American Dynamics, Software House, S2 Security and Axis Communications. Approximately five years ago, it also broadened its geographic reach by opening a small office in Kansas City. The company works predominantly with the Owners and managers of schools, commercial office buildings, hospitals, and industrial facilities to assist them in maintaining secure, comfortable, and efficient building operations.
“Our evolution over the years has allowed us to become the experts when it comes to evaluating systems, making systems work properly, and assuring that systems were installed the way they were initially designed; we call it the “Building Intelligence” part of it. We have quite a tool chest for analytics,” says Ken Stoppel, Chief Executive Officer and founder of BCS.
The Temperature Control aspect of a typical construction project is routinely completed in the last twenty percent of the scheduled timeframe, so the pressure is on to meet the deadline successfully, while meeting critical design criteria. Being one of the last of the construction team to work on the project, hopefully the Owner can see BCS as a driving force that helps pull it all together. As the project transitions to the warranty stage, if there are potential problems, Owners often contact the most recent organization involved with the job with the expertise they need to resolve the problem. Over the years, BCS has developed significant skills across the gamut of Mechanical, HVAC and Control Systems to deal with just such occurrences, while specializing in ensuring that systems remain as efficient as possible.
BCS helps to make schools more efficient by providing variable ventilation and optimal temperature control and air quality. If a classroom only has a small number of students, the air conditioning for the room only works as hard as it needs to, and if there is no one in the classroom at all, costly ventilation is either closed or lowered to a required minimum.
The company often completes free energy audits for its customers to assure that systems are performing as efficiently as possible. This often includes monitoring electric and gas bills over the course of a year to determine the number of BTUs per square foot that are being consumed. The company can evaluate the efficiency of that utility consumption by comparing it to a massive database of similar data at the Department of Energy. “We want stuff to work as hard as it needs to, but not a bit more than it has to,” says Stoppel.
“The future is difficult to predict. I see a lot more of the optimization and efficiencies being driven by the demand for the ‘Zero Energy’ or ‘High Performing Buildings’ – the ones that produce little waste and consume very little, if any, energy because of the way they’re designed and constructed – the ‘Green Building’ concept. I see us being involved with trying to lead and enhance that effort as it evolves in our local market,” says Stoppel. The company has a significant market share in the city of Wichita.
BCS is more focused on building transparent, long-term relationships with its customers than it is on saving every dollar possible. “Making sure that we deliver a “premium customer experience” can mean losing a few battles to win a few wars, if you know what I mean,” says Stoppel. “If you have trouble with a project, own that problem, and do what it takes to try to resolve it, even if it means digging in your pocket for the money to do it so that you can strengthen that relationship and build a ‘customer for life’. We’re in this for the long haul”.
Ken Stoppel has learned several rules to live by, in achieving success in business and in life. “Tie a ribbon around your mistakes,” is what he calls this approach of BCS being fully honest about any mistakes and going above and beyond to find a resolution.
Another one of his life lessons is to choose employees based on personality traits and attitude, rather than simply looking at previous training and experience. Of the eighty-five employees who work in Wichita, approximately sixty are regularly out in the field installing systems, providing services, or managing projects at various locations throughout the company’s territory in Kansas. Intelligence is great, but hard work is what is most important here. The company values its employees for their skills, and it strives to place everyone in a position where they can reach their full potential. Stoppel calls it “The Bus Principle”… get the right people on the bus, and get them in the right seats on the bus.
“At a larger, regional corporate level, sometimes management tries to put square pegs in round holes, but you have to listen to your employees and figure out what their aptitude really is, and let them fill in that blank regarding their potential. We want to make sure we’ve got the right people working on the right projects with the right skill sets. It’s important to truly understand the capabilities of your Team members, and to put them in places where we both succeed,” says Stoppel.
Giving back to the community that helped it reach success is considered a responsibility, and the company invests in all sorts of charitable efforts. It provides free warehouse space that can be set up with tables and chairs and used as a local industry community center, or gathering place for Architects, Engineers, or other organizations. The site, in the heart of downtown Wichita, is a convenient location to meet, and BCS also provides a list of possible caterers from which to choose for events that are hosted in the warehouse space.
Having recently reached sixty-six years of age, Stoppel has begun to step away from day to day leadership and equity. These days, he spends much of his time showing up “for what he knows,” rather than “for what he can do”. The veterans in the group are tasked daily in making all those around them a little bit better, as a result of their past experience. “I’ve been a fortunate guy; I’ve made a living doing what I have a passion for. I’ve gotten considerable recognition for that, and I’ve made a good living doing it. There are a lot of unrewarded individuals who work awfully hard that don’t get to experience all three. Very few are so fortunate,” says Stoppel.
He notes how blessed he feels to have such a significant presence in the local market while also getting the chance to be surrounded by a wonderful team of people. “We are a unique blend of Talent, Youth, Enthusiasm and Wisdom. Recently, the third employee ever to retire from BCS was rewarded with a gold watch to demonstrate how much his service was appreciated over the years,” he shares.
“BCS strives to maintain a reputation as the ‘easiest company to work with’ on building HVAC and Controls projects. Our goal is to provide valuable expertise and consistently deliver a ‘Premium Customer Experience’. We can’t make payroll without it,” Stoppel says. For example, when an Engineer or Architect reaches out to BCS about design details of an upcoming project with limited time to spare, BCS sets itself apart by being extra accommodating to meet their deadline. The focus is on the “Comfort, Safety, and Efficiency” of a building which, in turn, makes the customers with which it partners more secure and happy.
This idea goes along with the company’s mission to establish long term relationships with its customers and encourage repeat business. “People buy products and services from people that they know and they trust. It’s not so much the products, they all kind of run together, to be honest. In meeting the needs of our specifying Engineers, it’s about who’s got that relationship, and who’s the one they can call that they trust, that won’t chew them out because they ask a silly question, or they’ve bumped up against a critical deadline,” says Stoppel. “Turning on a dime with information or pricing requests is critical to our success. If I had to boil it down to just one critical rule, it would be to do what you say you’re going to do, in the time frame that was committed, and always do the right thing,” Stoppel adds.
“We make them safe, we provide comfortable environments, and we save them money by making sure their equipment is as efficient as possible. There are many who make money off a consequence. It’s extremely gratifying to have pursued our business model over the last three plus decades by making people’s lives better,” says Stoppel. “In retrospect, looking back at it, that’s a good place to be.”