Where Personal Attention Meets Skill and Capability

Written by Ryan Cartner

Air-Tec is a full-service HVAC company providing design, custom manufacturing, installation, and maintenance services to customers in California and Nevada. For over fifty years the company has earned a reputation for its excellent customer service and the highest standard of quality in the region.

In the early 1960s, while company founder Clay Dunn was earning his living as a sheet metal worker in California, he noticed a trend among companies operating in the local HVAC industry. While there was no shortage of HVAC companies in the area, the quality of service they were providing seemed to leave many customers dissatisfied. In response, Dunn established Air-Tec in 1969, operating out of his garage, and focused his efforts on high-quality workmanship and honest service.

A half century later Dunn is still at the helm, but Air-Tec has grown to be something much larger under his leadership. Employing over 200 people in the United States and another 15 overseas, and with a fleet of more than 50 trucks, Air-Tec is entirely debt-free and on course to see 70 million dollars in revenue this year.

According to Dunn, the secret to Air-Tec’s success has been a commitment to honesty and integrity among the people he trusts to work for him. “When I founded the company I set the core principles and values and what is acceptable behavior on the part of my salesmen,” says Dunn. “I won’t tolerate people that don’t tell the truth. It’s my nature to always tell the truth and that communicates right down the line.” Dunn built his company from the ground up on the central idea that he will always stand by his work, and the entire Air-Tec crew have come to respect and abide by that same vision.

Dunn has high expectations of his employees and as a result turnover can be high, but this is by design. For Air-Tec, quality and integrity matter above all else, and maintaining that standard demands strict adherence to the company’s core principles; Dunn calls it weeding out the chaff. “Mr. Dunn has an innate ability to pick people that will excel for him,” says Kurt Kredel, Project Manager. “He doesn’t care if you’re from another universe; if you’re willing to work he’s willing to give you an opportunity. He helps people exceed their expectations, which is not the norm these days. We have project managers that started as truck drivers or sweeping the floor in the shop. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work, Mr. Dunn will back you.”

This commitment to integrity means being honest with customers, but it also means providing a service and a final product that the company can stand behind. In order to provide the best possible quality to customers, Air-Tec is continually investing in the latest technology. For every aspect of HVAC development and improvement, Air-Tec is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery and the expertise to operate it. Air-Tec has always adapted to the front line of technological innovation and this has enabled it to become a leader among California HVAC companies.

As a result of this commitment to building on its capabilities and its expertise, the company has developed a skill set that covers the full breadth of HVAC services. Starting at the earliest phase of a project’s development, Air-Tec can assist customers in designing fully customized HVAC systems. One of the earliest companies in its region to adopt computer-aided design software into its workflow, Air-Tec’s engineers are experts in digital design, and a unique asset to customers in developing cost- and time-efficient projects.

Once a design drawing has been approved, Air-Tec’s fully-equipped automated fabrication plant will go to work building an HVAC solution suited directly to the customer’s unique needs. Having an in-house fabrication department enables close collaboration between the engineers who designed the system and the fabricators who are building it. This significantly improves the quality, the accuracy, and the speed with which projects can be completed. In the end, these added efficiencies work together to reduce the overall cost of the project. Air-Tec leverages decades of experience and in-house expertise to engineer as much value into a project as possible.

Whether it’s design, fabrication, installation or any other phase of a project, Air-Tec separates itself from the competition by this capacity to work with efficiency. “We provide everything; we just have one bang-up operation,” says Dunn. “I tell these guys that when we hit the job it should be like the U.S. Marine Corps just landed. The number one thing is quality, the number two thing is speed, and the number three thing is that when we screw up – and we’re human, so we do – we fix it and we don’t argue.”

Certainly, Dunn understands the importance of customer retention. The company offers a standard one-year warranty to repair or replace any work it does, but will also absorb the cost on out-of-warranty repairs when it has identified that the problem is the company’s fault. This can be costly, sometimes into thousands of dollars, but in the end it’s worth more to Dunn and Air-Tec to keep the customer satisfied. Air-Tec has always promised integrity, and this is where it walks the walk.

Fortunately, mistakes are few and far between. Air-Tec’s expert project management team brings 85 years of combined experience to every project. The field team is made up of the most highly trained and qualified union workers and continual evaluation ensures that they are meeting Air-Tec’s high standards of quality and representing the company with the utmost integrity. The service department is trusted by many major clients to keep their systems up and running through periodic preventative maintenance and repair. Air-Tec’s expert technicians can troubleshoot problems in a broad range of HVAC systems and reduce the likelihood of unexpected and expensive downtime. And the administrative staff are always available to keep clients abreast of project details throughout the process. The entire Air-Tec team has been carefully cultivated by the company’s leadership to be a highly efficient, high-performance machine.

Environmental sustainability is another important element for Air-Tec, and the company is a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), an organization committed to promoting sustainable building through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED.) In order to meet the standards set by LEED and the USGBC, Air-Tec provides ongoing training to its employees so that they can offer clients energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable options. As a result of this commitment to LEED standards and green building, Air-Tec was hired to design and build the HVAC system for California’s first LEED Platinum airplane hangar. By providing these sustainable solutions, Air-Tec is helping customers protect the environment by reducing their carbon footprint and reduce their operating costs by limiting energy consumption. Further, LEED certified buildings are often eligible for grants and other funding opportunities.

Air-Tec is also an expert in designing and installing retrofit systems. Whether the project is residential or commercial, a major retrofit can cause significant interruption to a business or disruption to the lives of tenants. Air-Tec understands these challenges and has developed a specialized workflow for these projects to minimize disturbances. When an equipment update is necessary, Air-Tec will design a custom solution and install it within budget, on time, and with minimal interruption.

The team has found a great deal of success in the HVAC industry by focusing on customer satisfaction and by caring about the quality of the product. “Our plans look better than anything the engineers out here do,” says Dunn. “When we do a drawing it means something. We’re pretty proud of our product and we don’t want there to be anything ordinary about it. Like I said, the biggest thing is that when there’s a problem it just gets handled. If there’s arguing, that’s a different story – and that’s not our story.”

Currently the company operates primarily in California and to a lesser extent in Nevada. Going forward, Air-Tec is preparing for further growth. A fleet of more than 50 branded trucks travel the company’s territory maintaining HVAC systems for clients, and Dunn anticipates more business and more growth on the horizon. “We’d like to grow,” says Dunn, “but we don’t want to be the biggest; we want to be the best.”



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