From Conception to Completion – Large Company, Small-Company Feel

Air-Tec
Written by Allison Dempsey

Since its founding in 1969 by Clay Dunn, Air-Tec has been committed to providing exceptional customer service throughout Southern California and Nevada. In the realm of HVAC, the company offers services and solutions for projects for design/build, shell and core, LEED, tenant improvement, retrofit, and controls. The company’s 60,000-square-foot facility supports not only the Corporation’s Headquarters, but also a state-of-the-art Fabrication Shop allowing for the design and fabrication of material for even the most complex of systems.

The foundation of Air-Tec’s success is a simple yet effective philosophy of offering superior quality and craftsmanship with exceptional service, standing by its work by taking accountability to prove its dedication to clients.

Air-Tec established a collaboration with Computrols in 2020 that has expanded its ability to serve building owners and property managers. Computrols offers practical and economic solutions and provides end users with a user-friendly interface to control their Building Management Systems.

Core values from the start
“The core values we have today are the very core values that inspired owner Clay Dunn to branch out on his own over 56 years ago,” says Kurt Kredel, LEED Project Manager. “He is a real force in the industry and within the company. He started from humble beginnings, and he’s kept Air-Tec’s core values going 56 years later, which is quite amazing.”

And that all comes down to integrity and service first.

“We provide a level of service and we stand by our work,” says Manager, Hayley Amberg. “We’ve had instances where years later it is discovered that Air-Tec made an installation error; even out of warranty, we’ve gone back and made those corrections because it’s the right thing to do.”

These instilled values all carry over to employees, which helps to build a vibrant and loyal company culture. “We demand excellence in all aspects of our fabrication and installation; we do not settle for mediocrity,” says Amberg. “With our employees, we expect people to tell the truth, do the right thing, and maintain those values because they represent Air-Tec.”

Earning business in the best way
The company’s reputation has been built over the years on these very values. Instead of marketing, a large portion of the company’s business stems solely from reputation and referrals. Today’s customers are the grandchildren of Air-Tec’s founder’s customers. This loyalty is due to Air-Tec’s dedication to a job done right.

“We work with a diverse group of people in different tiers,” says Kredel. “On the service side, we work with owners and tenants in high-rise or standalone buildings. And now we do the same thing with controls.”

For many of the buildings in Southern California, specifically in LA and Orange County, Air-Tec is on a “preferred contractor” list based on its reputation of consistent excellence that owners recognize and appreciate. “Integrity is the cornerstone, and service to the client is everything,” says Kredel. “Everything we do is based on those beliefs. And with that said, timely response and action are demanded.”

“We can take any project—big or small, complex or simple,” Amberg says. “Once our design is approved by the client, we can immediately begin fabrication in shop.”

Clay Dunn’s initial vision continues to live on in aspects of Air-Tec’s work, Kredel adds. “Clay expects us to constantly look for the most efficient application that we can put together. That could be in the shop, in what we’re building and what we’re doing on the service side, or in what we’re doing on the control side,” he explains.

The highest standard of technology is also something the company continually strives for—and strives to improve upon. “What’s out there? How can we better ourselves? It’s a constant. And with this in-house fabrication, Clay has pushed to get the most up-to-date equipment there is to get the best product out to the client.”

“It’s very important to stay one step ahead of current trends and available technology for the client,” adds Amberg, explaining that most of Clay’s time is spent researching, coming up with ideas, and asking questions while ensuring everyone, from field installer to truck driver and receptionist to project manager, has been provided the best tools available to excel at their jobs.

A workplace that works
This attitude also evokes a positive and conducive workplace atmosphere that encourages innovation and strategic planning.

“We have more than 150 years of combined experience with project managers here, and this is a team Clay relies upon to get the information that they need. One of his main goals is to provide the most engaging atmosphere for us to move onward and upward as a company.”

Air-Tec’s forward motion is clearly propelled by its design shop and the quality CAD teams that service clients with construction drawings: the foundation from which quality projects are launched.

“We stand by our CAD teams and their designs,” says Kredel. This is a practice the company takes pride in and a standard it has maintained, unlike some competitors. “It’s one of the areas where we feel we’re giving the client a tangible product that they can see, review, and approve,” says Kredel.

Controls as a discipline is fast evolving throughout the world, and HVAC is no different from any other industry. Air-Tec’s controls division is constantly growing, with each new product installed meeting Clay’s superior standards.

Customer collaboration and satisfaction are also paramount throughout the process, Kredel adds. “It’s everything. We’re in the service industry and we have to take care of the client’s bottom line by providing them the information they need upfront so they can then make a decision and aren’t blindsided later on with extra costs.”

Delivering projects on time is of utmost importance to the company. Efficiency, says Kredel, is key, along with promoting sustainability wherever possible. “If we’re creating drawings on CAD versus paper, or providing equipment that runs more efficiently for the client, that’s where we see the big savings for both the client and Mother Earth,” he says.

Always there
Air-Tec aims to provide clients with exactly what they want, working hard to be there for them throughout the process.

“We’re made for emergencies,” says Amberg. “We’re the people who are called when our buildings have an issue. That sense of urgency along with our ability to perform on large-scale projects is what perpetuates our returning customer base. Air-Tec is a company where we have what we need to get the job done, but we have that intimate experience with our customers and their needs, and they recognize that.”

Air-Tec’s reputation for an exceptional labor force is remarked on throughout the industry, says Amberg. Union workers have told her that if you can make it at Air-Tec, you can make it anywhere, which Amberg calls “a testament to our high standards and how we can take someone who has no career or training and, with hard work and dedication, give them an opportunity,” she says.

“I have a security guard from one of our buildings who’s now running work for us—huge jobs, huge projects. He was brought through the ranks at Air-Tec and is now well-qualified and trained, with a family and a house and a career,” she says. “I believe the way we approach a project is the same way we approach a person, an employee—that we have the capability of building something that’s long-lasting, and has depth and weight.”

This is a devotion and dedication that has not only served the company well for decades but has continued to encourage employees today to create long-lasting, high-quality products that meet the demanding standards. “We don’t settle for mediocrity,” says Amberg. “We have high expectations of our employees; we expect integrity and purpose, and we uphold Air-Tec’s core values.”

The rewards of nimbleness
An emphasis on nimbleness has served the company well over the years, seeing the company through recent travails of both the economy and the commercial real estate sector, where constant adjustments have to be made.

“We’re very good at making those adjustments, and that’s part of the whole business of forecasting and trying to be one step ahead,” Amberg says. “We’re able to keep our finger on the pulse and redirect as needed.”

Kredel strongly agrees. In particular, being nimble has served the company and its clients well. “If the clients are more in the tenant improvement market, then we’re there,” he says. “If they’re more in the hospital market, or hospitality, we’re there. We have that ability and that structure, and also the different departments within the company.”

Reiterating the sentiment of providing accountability, quality, and maintaining customer service above all else, Kredel feels these ideals are a testament to Clay’s vision and his continuing drive to ensure that everybody marches to the same drum, which, basically, is taking care of the end user.

“Ultimately,” he says, “Air-Tec is a company that can take care of its clients from start to finish, from conception to completion.”

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