Doing What’s Right, Even When Most Difficult

Campbell & Company
Written by David Caldwell

In Washington State’s Tri-City and Yakima areas, Campbell & Company maintains, repairs, and replaces HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing and sewer systems in local homes and businesses to the highest of standards. As COVID-19 ravages our communities and as the climate changes our environment, reliable contractors and dependable services become ever more essential.

With a laser focus on doing what is right for its customers and team, Campbell has developed an enviable reputation for quality, professionalism, and high value. More recently, the company relied on its service-oriented culture to not just survive but thrive through the pandemic.

Campbell currently serves a customer base of over 650,000 customers in the state of Washington, operating from both its locations in Pasco, 350 kilometers southeast of Seattle, and a newer branch in nearby Yakima.

In the years immediately preceding the pandemic, the company enjoyed rapid expansion across its service area by earning additional business from its extremely loyal customer base who had been utilizing Campbell’s HVAC services for years. Campbell & Company introduced a plumbing division in 2016, sewer division in 2019 and focused on expanding its electrical services. Campbell & Company is the premier service provider to the many local homes and businesses in its area, with a focus on building lifelong relationships and raving fans.

Since its founding in 1983, Campbell has enjoyed a steady rise in its reputation, spread mostly through word-of-mouth from customers who were pleasantly surprised by the company’s level of service, quality of work and commitment to always doing what is right.

Service centered
Campbell has embraced this philosophy of quality service wholeheartedly, with a strong emphasis on accountability and professionalism from each employee.

An example was when the Campbell team made the early decision to install all HVAC equipment above manufacturer specifications, in defiance of normal industry standards. Campbell believes the most important day of a system’s life is the day it is installed. Increasing value to its customers by installing a safer, more reliable, and more efficient product, Campbell has seen warranty calls drop in half and systems last longer for its customers.

Campbell understands customers see home repairs and installations as long-term investments and is dedicated to only providing products and services that are lasting. Because of that, Campbell & Company applies the same dedication to performance across every service it provides its customers. Through each interaction, it strives to earn the right to be a lifelong service provider for every customer.

Providing a series of membership plans, Campbell enhances the reliability of HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing and Sewer systems by performing quality maintenance and preventative repairs. By building long-term relationships with customers, Campbell can focus on serving its customers well instead of trying to find new ones.

At the core
This emphasis on customer service and quality directly reflects Campbell’s core values. Every Campbell employee must demonstrate and practice the pillars of “trustworthy, team focused, customer focused, continuous improvement, positivity/energetic/enthusiastic.”

With over 200 employees, Campbell’s team members are selected and trained to exemplify the values the company holds dear in every interaction. These values were foundational to successfully navigating the unique challenges COVID presented this past year.

As the COVID world came down around it, the company kept employees’ and customers’ needs first by introducing new methods of communication to adapt to the changing landscape, working with its team to define and implement strict safety guidelines to reduce the spread, and working twice as hard to keep work in front of its team.

It is a continual focus on these values that has enabled Campbell not only to survive COVID but adapt strongly to it. In a time when other businesses are instinctively more cautious and conservative, Campbell has been able to weather the storm. “We decided not to surrender, but control what we [could] of the situation, and navigate the landscape as effectively as possible, day-to-day,” says Brian Campbell, General Manager and son of founder Mike Campbell.

An equally strong cornerstone of the company’s values is Campbell’s transparency and communication. As COVID began its intrusion into the United States in 2020, with an early hotspot in Washington, Brian recalls how a lack of communication led to a drop in sales and service.

Communication: talk and talk some more
With Campbell & Company’s technicians entering customers’ homes and businesses, customers were understandably worried for their safety. But despite Campbell adopting safety protocols early on, many customers remained concerned and unaware of these measures.

“We found that at first we were doing a lot of the right stuff, we just didn’t let people know what we were doing,” Brian says. With this lack of communication leading to a false assumption among clients that Campbell operated an unsafe working environment, the company sought feedback from its customers, call center and field employees. “We decided to focus on educating our customers,” Brian explains, “just making sure we’re communicating with customers to let them know what it is that we’re doing.”

The results were a dramatic reduction in cancellations and a general resumption of service calls.

This focus on communication, Brian says, is totally in line with Campbell’s core values of treating their customers with respect. “We believe, at our core, that we provide our customers options through education. We educate them to make decisions, and this, in our opinion, was no different. We wanted them to know what we were doing, and then let them decide if they were comfortable with us in their homes. We’ve done that across every area of the business.”

Together on values
Campbell relates how, early on, the company made the conscious decision to adopt strict cleaning procedures when COVID was treated more as a potential than a serious threat.

When an outbreak occurred at one of Campbell’s suppliers, the company acted quickly to stop the virus and fear from spreading. “We asked ourselves, ‘what is the right thing to do for our employees, our customers?’ We made the decision, with feedback from our employees and specifically the warehouse team, that we would wipe down every box, every piece of equipment that came through our warehouse, with disinfectant spray,” Brian recalls.

With so little known about the virus at the time, Campbell’s leadership felt justified in taking the comprehensive better-safe-than-sorry route. And rather than seeing Campbell’s response as draconian or excessive, the entire team was thankful and willing to help in the cause because they knew the decision had their best interest at heart. This, Brian says, shows exactly what the company means with its tagline: “Trust us to do it right.”

While this philosophy is often thought to refer to the professionalism of Campbell’s service, it is also reflective of the company’s philosophy toward its employees. “Our goal is to make sure that we continue to earn the right to employ our team and that each of our employees can return home safely, every single day,” Brian says.

Staying safe
He relates how, now more than ever, Campbell conducts wide-ranging inspections to identify any potential or active health risks. From the beginning, as the public health situation evolved, so too did Campbell’s response. Brian believes the ability to identify an issue and work toward a resolution is a skill Campbell & Company‘s team is fortunate to possess: “That was a skill we fought to develop before COVID hit, so we’ve used all of those different items when approaching COVID,” he says.

“Culture doesn’t just happen; it is managed and reinforced. We have an amazing leadership team that serves employees first. Through this past year we knew our employees’ safety and mindset were more important than ever. Campbell had to alter many of its traditions to keep those as a priority.”

All employee events had to be modified to suit a safer workspace. The annual employee recognition breakfast was transformed into a socially distanced “drive thru parade,” the annual Christmas party became a virtual celebration with Christmas baskets, weekly meetings became virtual gatherings, and monthly company emails became weekly newsletters focused on its great employees.

“All of these different things allowed us to slow down and say ‘thank you’ to the employees on the front lines who were really working hard to keep us moving,” Brian recalls. “It was great to bring the team together and have a piece of normalcy.”

Campbell’s reward for its stringent and rapid sanitary responses is self-evident: “As of today, throughout our building, we have 60-plus people working in the office of our main branch,” Brian says, “and we’ve not had anybody pass COVID from one person to the next, internally.”

Indeed, the company has thrived in a year in which many businesses have been challenged to stay afloat. Campbell’s leadership quickly learned that although their competitors might be scaling back operations, customers were still out there and work still needed to be done.

As Brian explains, Campbell acted aggressively to retain business and safeguard its employees. “How can we make sure we keep our guys busy? What’s our duty to our employees and our customers?” he remembers discussing with employees. “We weren’t sure if it was going to go tremendously well, but we were really looking out for our team and making sure we fought to keep them together. We were lucky enough that’s exactly what happened.”

Growing share and sharing growth
In a COVID world, Campbell found it was able to renegotiate some of its advertising contracts; as a result, as Brian explains, “All of a sudden, our dollar went a lot further.” He estimates service calls are up by 10 percent compared to December 2019. Further, while the counties in Campbell’s primary service area are down by 16 to 17 percent, Campbell’s own work in these same counties is up by 15 percent – a testament to the company upholding its promise to its customers and employees – “Trust us to do it right.”

This larger market share is not only a result of effective marketing but also Campbell’s reputation and enhanced communication strategy. By communicating better with customers and the company’s own employees, Campbell is continuing to build an atmosphere of close trust. “Just this year alone, our five-star reviews are up 39 percent over the previous year,” Brian says. “With this year being such a difficult year and so much going on in the world, it’s really a telling indicator of how we’ve done.”

But instead of the company grabbing every cent of profit for its own coffers, it’s working generously to support its community. “When our community was hit the hardest, our management team was asking each other, ‘What’s the right thing to do for our community? What does our community need right now?’ HOPE.” By the end of the day, the company had ordered over 250 American flags and created its “Community Strong” program to remind everyone we’re in this together and to help people truly hurting in Eastern Washington.

With word spreading through social media, the company raised over $16,500 in coordination with the local chapter of the non-profit Communities in Schools. Campbell is also continuing with its Pay It Forward program, which provides $30,000 worth of pro bono repair work across the area. As Brian explains, Campbell’s technicians also acquired a more intimate view of their customers’ environments.

This included helping a 30-year-old dance academy hit particularly hard from the COVID pandemic. A 100-plus degree heat streak caused their 20-plus- year-old AC to cease working. With dance membership cancellation at an all-time high, resources were unavailable to cover a new system and would eventually mean going out of business. So, Campbell & Company replaced their HVAC system free of charge.

“When you’re in people’s homes and businesses, you have a unique responsibility when seeing people at some of their most humbling times. We try to do what we can to really help them out,” he says.

Right thing to do
As Campbell continues to move forward, it seems that although the future is uncertain, the company’s own place in it is secure. Brian takes heart in the company’s flexibility and close communication with both customers and employees. “We’re in the customer service industry,” he says, “and we’re going to stay focused on serving our customers.”

By following health guidelines and communicating regularly, businesses may greet 2022 enthusiastically.

Brian’s take is both refreshingly different and wise: “Your employees often know the right thing to do,” he says. “You need to either empower them or support them. Giving them an avenue to communicate with leadership is very important.”



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