ETR owner started from bottom, now he's leading Top 10 team

Published on Sunday, 4 May 2014 17:53 - Written by Casey Murphy cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Todd Green always knew he wanted to be in the air conditioning business.

He said he felt he needed a trade and liked the industry because it was technical and had the added benefit of helping people.

Green, 46, began working as an installer for East Texas Refrigeration (ETR) in 1994. The company, which he now owns, started in Tyler in 1978 by Billy and Delores McGwier. The name was actually carried on from McGwier’s father’s company years before that serviced grocery stores in the area, Green said.

After about a year, Green moved into sales and design, made general manager in 1999 and bought the business in 2010.

Green started at the bottom but knew he wanted to own the company one day. He worked hard to help build ETR and stuck with it until the McGwiers retired and he took over, he said.

 

SERVING EAST TEXAS

ETR designs, installs and repairs air conditioning and heating systems for mostly residential customers. About 3 percent of its clients are commercial, such as schools, churches and medical clinics. The company serves people all over East Texas, including Palestine, Longview, Quitman and Gilmer.

When Green started 20 years ago, ETR had 10 employees. It has since grown to 42 workers, made up of technicians, installers and warehouse and office personnel.

“We should be the largest (A/C only) contractor in East Texas,” Green said.

The company started in a 2,000-square-foot building on Beckham Avenue but has grown to the 15,000-square-foot facility on Old Troup Highway.

“We’re about where we want to be growth-wise, but we want to focus more on high efficiency residential business,” Green said of ETR.

ETR is a Trane Comfort Specialist, a designation only given to the upper echelon of Trane dealers, Green said, adding that the company has higher customer service and technical training standards they have to meet.

The business also specializes in the Daikin VRV, highly efficient A/C systems that are made for new residential and light commercial buildings because they have to be designed to fit, he said, adding that it is highly energy efficient.

Green admits that during the summer, the A/C business a “terrible job” because the people installing and repairing units have to work in attics that reach 120 degrees. The summer is their busiest time of year, he added.

Green runs a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week service with no overtime charges and installations are scheduled for the following day if possible. If it can’t be the next day, they will do whatever they can to keep the existing system running until they can install a new one, even offering temporary units when needed, he said.

Green believes keeping an A/C system maintained and clean, or changing it out with a new high-efficiency system, is the simplest investment people can make to see an immediate return on electricity bills.

 

AWARDS

ETR recently received a Top 10 Award from the North Texas Trane Dealer Sales Office, which includes about 400 Trane dealers. The awards are decided on by Trane Co. officials and surveyed customers. Companies are rated on customer service, continued education and installation of high-efficiency equipment.

Green said it is a big deal because they are up against dealers in Dallas, Waco and other larger cities with hundreds of employees. ETR has been given a Top 10 Award for the past seven years but this year was ranked No. 2 — the Pace Setter Award — for the first time.

“I’m shooting to get No. 1 next year,” Green said.

Although he might set the standard, it’s his employees who serve the customers every day.

“If they weren’t doing a great job, then it wouldn’t reflect back on me,” he said, adding that he has employees who have been there more than 25 years.

He said ETR has customers who have been loyal to the business since it started more than 35 years ago.

Green wanted to give back to the community so about three years ago, he partnered with The Salvation Army to collect blankets each winter. They took in about 80 blankets the first year and last year collected more than 400. Two years ago, he began helping collect fans. Each summer, The Salvation Army gives out about 60 fans a week, or more than 1,000 each year. Green also chooses one person per drive each year to repair or replace their heating system and/or A/C system for free.