RESIDENTIAL: Adding Modern Comfort to an Historic Home

Evergreen State Heat & AC believes that securing a customer for a service contract, in addition to installation, creates a long-term customer relationship. 

Evergreen State Heat & AC's goal was to add modern comfort while preserving the aesthetics of a 110-year-old home.

The owner of a two-story, 110-year-old home in downtown Everett, Washington, relied on an antiquated boiler system in his walk-in basement for heat. He wanted to add modern comfort while preserving the aesthetics of the historic home, so he called Evergreen State Heat & AC, the winner of the 2023 Gold Excellence Safety Award by the Master Builders Association of Snohomish and King Counties in Washington State.

Within three weeks of the call, the owner had the new system he was looking for, plus a service contract that would bring Evergreen technicians back for years. Evergreen completes most residential projects within two or three weeks from the first call to completion. Even when volume is high during the summer, they install within four to six weeks. Quick turnaround for installation helps build relationships with the customer that can last for decades. 

Evergreen is a residential and light commercial contractor. "In the present economy, where interest rates remain high and there are political and economic uncertainties, our commercial markets are smaller and more competitive," says Russ Kimball, Evergreen's owner and CEO. "Now is the time we need to rely more on the residential markets. Service contracts for all customers are critical and the main difference between a transactional and a relational customer. This is a primary driver for our replacement and service base."

Evergreen targets customers who want peace of mind for an extended time, offering a 10- or 12-year extended labor warranty. "Now we are the dedicated service company for the next 10 years," says Evergreen's operations manager Susan Reeder. "Our service technician will come to the home annually, so the warranty remains intact and the HVAC system has the best life expectancy."

Evergreen's relationship with a residential customer starts with the first call to the office. "We want to capture our clientele based on a live call," Reeder says. "We try not to put customers off, and we get an energy consultant out quickly, so customers are made a priority from day one." 

Energy consultant John Liska visited the 110-year-old home on September 27, the day after the initial call. "I have a set of questions that will allow a customer to walk me through what they're looking for," Liska says. "We have a large selection of products to meet the customer's needs." Consultants provide the owner with a proposal within 24 to 48 hours.

The customer accepted Evergreen's bid on October 9, and the foreman visited the layout. Then Evergreen sent a journeyman with 27 years of experience to install about 1000 pounds of equipment, including a ducted air handler with 40 feet of flex duct in the attic. "Flex duct allows us to be more maneuverable and agile, especially in the attic situation where you want to be able to move around," Liska says. "You don't want to fall through the ceiling." 

The journeyman fabricated the transition from the ductwork to the on-site air handler. "We have a mobile fabrication unit, a box truck that has everything the journeyman needs," Liska says. Evergreen's success depends on the superior skill level of the workforce. "I haven't worked for another company that could make adjustments on-site without delaying this kind of project for months. There were no callbacks and no issues. The customer's satisfaction with our product and our service goes a long way toward building a strong reputation."

Installation was complete by October 18. About seven days later, the service technician dedicated to the home did a courtesy walk-through. "We visit with the customer to make sure they are in love with their system, they're running it properly, and everything's working," Liska says. The service technician discusses the warranty and rebates, answers questions and explains the thermostat. 

As part of the closeout program, the technician invites the customer to give Evergreen a review. "In 2023, Evergreen had over 90 reviews from customer service, electrical and installations," Reeder says. Customer reviews on Google increase Evergreen's visibility on Google search. "We make sure our jobs are successful, our customers are happy, and they're providing feedback, which continues workflow."  

The installation brought Evergreen about 30 sheet metal work hours. Still, the long-term relationship is the best part of the story. Some customers have been with Evergreen so long that Evergreen has replaced their HVAC three times. "When you create that trust," Reeder says, "they come back to you for a new system replacement each time."