BAC Group of Companies

It is no secret that recent years have brought economic challenges to island nations such as Bermuda. But despite the economic difficulties that the island is still dealing with, the BAC Group of Companies is finding ways to succeed.

Based in Hamilton, Bermuda, BAC was founded as Modern Supply Company, and earlier this year the organization celebrated 50 years since it was incorporated as BAC. Today, BAC’s services include HVAC, plumbing, refrigeration, energy management and controls, energy efficiency and renewable energy, fire protection and mechanical engineering. General contractors, architects, homeowners and commercial property owners are among its clients.

Up to the Challenge

Just as the economic troubles trickled into Bermuda after they first hit the American and global economies, the slow pace of the global economic recovery is taking its time getting to the island. Tourism is still down, as are sales throughout all markets on Bermuda. In addition, around 4,000 people have left the country looking for opportunity elsewhere.

“We need foreign capital to bring business to the island,” BAC Managing Director Chris Schuler says. “It is not just tourism, either, but the insurance and reinsurance industries. We do a lot of renovations on office buildings, and a lot of commercial space is sitting idle right now.”

But dealing with challenging circumstances isn’t a new concept for BAC. That is because working in an island environment is difficult even in the best of times. Unlike similar companies based in the United States, BAC can’t just reach out to the local supply warehouse whenever it needs to. BAC works with a partner, The Poole & Kent Co. based in Baltimore, that handles packing and shipping of product, equipment and supplies, trucking it to New York to be shipped to Bermuda.

“We get about 150 containers a year, although that used to be closer to 300,” Schuler says. “The containers can include anything from Kohler and Panasonic products to piping, supplies, fittings and faucets. This is definitely a different business here because it can be tough to find specific items some times. If we need something quickly, we can have it shipped by air freight, but that is expensive.”

Fortunately, BAC has a strong reputation in Bermuda thanks to its many years of successful operations. About 95 percent of the company’s workforce is Bermudian, making it a highly local company that is buoyed by expats in strategic positions.

“I think our biggest strength is our people, as this is a family oriented company with many longstanding employees,” Schuler says. “I have been here for 26 years, and there are many others who have been here for more than 20 or 30 years. We have one employee who has been here for 43 years.”

Getting Better

The slow times have also allowed BAC to take stock of its operations and look for ways to improve. Service and maintenance of HVAC and plumbing are major parts of BAC’s business, so the company has put effort and resources into providing more training to its people.

“We’ve been concentrating on that aspect of the business to become better at providing service,” Schuler says. “When construction is slow, we focus on things like service and maintenance agreements, as well as looking for ways to get better at invoicing so we can get invoices out quicker and become a better service provider for our clients.”

BAC has also altered its operations outside of Bermuda. The company used to be much more involved in work in the Cayman Islands. However, it sold that part of the business two years ago. The company still owns some Cayman Islands properties and does some energy management work there, but the economic downturn caused the company to keep its focus squarely on Bermudian operations.

Another area where BAC has focused in recent years is its showroom in Pembroke, which highlights Kohler bath and kitchen products. BAC refurbished the showroom a few months ago.

The next step for BAC is to continue to generate opportunity as economic growth slowly but surely returns to Bermuda. Schuler expects to eventually see a period of rehab projects for older commercial buildings in Hamilton. This is because rent prices were driven down by the economy, so many businesses left older buildings for newer ones.

BAC knows that it won’t be a quick turnaround for Bermuda’s economy, but the company feels that continuing to improve aspects of its operations such as its air conditioning service and maintenance business will pay dividends in the long run. The company will also continue to expand its presence in newer sectors like alternative energy, and it will continue to take advantage of its many years in business.

“We must continue to get better and train our people so we can be there for clients when they need us,” Schuler says. “We know we can get better at service and provide a quality product and quality work at the right price.”

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