The Crew In Blue: Bringing Business Planned Maintenance and Saving Big Money

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that it seems more and more like you need to be a rocket scientist to handle the burgeoning role that technology is making in our everyday lives. Nobody recognizes that more than the people who are on the front line of service industries charged with learning, maintaining, updating and repairing those remarkable technological advances every single day. Such is the case for the lifelong learning team at City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning anchored in downtown St. Joseph.

The dynamic team at City was built on a vast array of commercial business. Literally putting entire systems into companies large and small all across Michigan's Great Southwest. While they have diversified into the residential marketplace over the decades, commercial business is still the largest part of what they do. We sat down with Ross Fisher, Sales Manager for Bundled Services at City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning to take a peek behind the curtain at what goes into not only the installation and implementation of sophisticated, modern technology for energy efficiency and performance, but also the ongoing planned maintenance that helps assure long life for those systems to keep the people in those places of business comfortable and secure regardless of the weather outside their windows.

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Ross likes to picture it as a partnership between the business enterprise and the energy team at City, saying essentially, "We're there as a consultant to help you determine how you can operate your business more efficiently to drive more to the bottom line through energy savings, programmed maintenance and anything associated with facilities." They offer such plans to companies of all sizes for heating, cooling and refrigeration gear.

To best handle that entire process, City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning utilizes a proprietary system to design Planned Maintenance Programs originated by the Linc service network. The team at Linc, owned and operated by ABM which specializes in facility management, brings to the table a proprietary system for designing customized maintenance plans. In as much as no two facilities, plants, offices or other entities are alike, customization is critical to the success of the program. You can learn more about Planned Maintenance at City through this link:

More than 150 contractors worldwide utilize the Linc system which can analyze and accurately predict maintenance needs and ownership costs over the lifetime of your HVAC equipment. The energy group at City then utilizes that information to formulate a customized maintenance plan for your particular equipment. Take a look at how that all works by clicking this link:

Ross tells us that a maintenance plan improves both the reliability and longevity of your equipment even as it helps control operational costs and reducing your energy usage by roughly 10 to 30-percent. As Ross notes, "If you're a company paying $5,000 a month in utility costs and we can help save even 10-percent, a 5 to 10 year window produces accumulated savings that can be huge." Without some sort of plan, you are always accumulating risk. As Ross says, "If you don't have a mechanical contractor doing maintenance you are at risk every day that something's going to break and you'll have an operational cost come at you out of the blue that you may not be prepared for." The Crew in Blue at City suggest you look at it from this point of view: With a well-designed maintenance program, nearly 90-percent of the risk of breakdowns can be mitigated, so no surprises and, better yet, no potentially huge, unexpected operational costs. Couple this risk control with a degree of "planned obsolescence," and you will be in position to know what's coming down the road and have the capability to plan ahead for it.

Ross says he and his colleagues contemplate continually the question, "What can we do to increase your bottom line at the end of the year in the areas where we have the expertise and resources to effect a solution?" What business enterprise, non-profit or municipal wouldn’t love a team that has the ability "to help you find potential capital out of your current operational budget ." As Ross points out, "Our maintenance and energy programs are more about your business and your bottom line than it is about the equipment," arguing, "The equipment is the easy part. We are fully aware that the hard part is having a profitable business or a balanced budget and that's the part we love to contribute to for our clients."

City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning's Planned Maintenance Program is a clear winner for everyone involved. It works. A good percentage of the clients that were signed 25 years ago at the beginning of our Linc program are still using it today. There's no better compliment than that. Look, reality is City's services go far, far beyond what any other company is offering in planned maintenance and energy services. Why? Ross Fisher contends, "It goes back to the core beliefs of the company," adding, "When we serve a client, we serve the client. The equipment is secondary, and our belief is that you should be comfortable, safe and enjoy a low level of risk on an everyday basis."

Best of all, Planned Maintenance by City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can be applicable to any size business from a small, local family-owned business to large-scale commercial and manufacturing companies, and even school districts and entire county government operations.

In fact, through the auspices of City Energy Services as exhibited in the link below, the Crew in Blue can identify large scale projects and call in the ABM facilities management team to design complete plans for businesses, school district, municipalities and beyond to help save energy and money. Ross notes, "We just found $1.75 million that we can save over the next ten years for a single client." See more at this link:

City Energy Services help the client take into consideration the entire "energy footprint" of the facility, including such things as water, lighting, building insulation, windows and beyond. The sophisticated process employs Energy Star analytical software to tell if your building is consuming more energy than buildings just like it worldwide. Have you ever wondered, for example, if your school is using more energy than other schools like it, if so, wouldn’t you want a team that is capable of analyzing the building to determine why. Who wouldn't want to turn expenses into revenue or income? The Crew in Blue is ready to help in a way that few other providers have even considered undertaking and they are doing it not only in Berrien County but all of southwest Michigan.

So, you may wonder, why would a plumbing, heating and air conditioning service company expand into energy services? Well, Ross says, "It goes back to those core beliefs starting all the way back to the Mashke family and on through to the Ross family. We believe we can provide something of value far beyond what a mechanical company would be considered to even be capable of. "It's that servant mentality that embodies the entire team at City Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.” Ross points out, "When it comes to our commercial and municipal clients we believe we can provide sustainability, security, limit risk, and above all make them more profitable so they're around for a long time to come."

Bottom line? "Our mission is to be on and stay on that cutting edge."