KB Heating & Air Conditioning

KB Heating & Air Conditioning is a one-stop shop for multiple services. Most successful HVAC companies have best practices in place to ensure they provide exceptional service to their clientele, but the only way to prove these strategies are working is through customer feedback, says KB Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. President Keith Broadbent.

The Lethbridge, Alberta-based company seeks feedback from every customer it does business with and based on the feedback it receives, “I think we do a really good job,” he admits.

Every year the Lethbridge community releases a “Best of the Best” list of companies that stand out for providing outstanding customer service. And every year for the past decade, the company has ranked No. 1 or 2 in plumbing and/or heating and air conditioning. This is especially mean­ingful since the list was created through public vote, Broadbent says.

Testimonials from residential and commercial clients alike populate KB Heating & Air Conditioning’s website and corporate brochures illustrating its endearing commitment to customer satisfaction. For instance, a project manager for a construction company that has worked closely with KB Heating on a variety of projects ranging from processing plants to schools to assisted living facilities said his company “has always found the staff very competent and solution-oriented. They participate as a team member throughout the project and realize the importance of the schedule and their role in achieving it.”

One couple living in Lethbridge said KB Heating’s customer service was “fantastic,” and that “it is rare to have such great service and treatment in the service industry now.” Another couple said, “From start to finish, the entire process was handled better than we could have imagined.” And a gentleman who has been in business for himself throughout most of his working career said, “It is really refreshing to know a com­pany that has high standards for itself and its employees. It does show.”

The One-stop HVAC Stop

KB Heating & Air Conditioning’s willingness to go out of its way to satisfy its customers’ needs is one of the main reasons why it went from a small HVAC shop to an industry leader in a little more than 25 years. Before starting the business in 1983, Broadbent worked for a similar plumbing heating company serving residential customers until he was about 26 years old. When the company closed down, he went on his own working as a one-man show until his brother, Vice President Greg Broadbent, joined him six months later.

“For the first five years, we focused on heating, ventilation and air conditioning for the residential market,” Keith Broadbent recalls. “Then, we started getting quite a few mid- to large-size commercial HVAC jobs. These large commercial projects be­came a mainstay of our business.” Today, about 50 percent of its projects are residential, and the other half is divided between commercial and industrial projects, he says.
“Then, somewhere around our 10th year of business, we took on the mechanical end of our business, and the company grew significantly in a two-year period,” he continues. The company now consists of fully licensed and bonded plumbers, gas fitters, sheet metal and refrigeration mechanics, welding and service technicians. Its team of highly experienced pro­fessionals offers a one-stop shop for plumbing, heating, air conditioning, metal fabrication, refrigeration and 24-hour emergency services.

Custom Metal Fabrication

According to Greg Broadbent, KB Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. operates its own state-of-the-art, 5,000-square-foot custom metal fabrication shop equipped with modern shearing, braking and metal-forming machinery. In ad­dition, the company offers 3-D prototypes and design for custom enclosures of all sizes and welding of all types of materials such as galvanized iron, mild steel, pre-painted flashing pro­ducts, aluminum, copper, brass and plate steel.

“That’s what we call our custom metal fabrication division,” he states. “We’ve managed to grow it into a larger business so that we work closely with our building customers across southern Alberta. We do a lot of stainless steel fabrication and other custom projects for the institutional and agricultural sectors.”

At the end of April 2010, KB Heating & Air Conditioning acquired South Country Welding, a welding contractor who had worked with the company on several industrial projects in the past. “We made a deal with him to come on board with us because we wanted his expertise since he dealt with quality control on some of our larger industrial projects,” Keith Broadbent says.

KB Heating Goes Green

In recent years, KB Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. has increased its efforts to become more en­vironmentally responsible. For instance, the company installs low-flow toilets and fixtures; waterless urinals; high-efficient wood and pellet fireplaces and stoves; solar-powered and hydronic heating components; programmable thermostats and ozone friendly refrigerants. In addition, its experienced staff provides customers with numerous ideas on how to decrease a home or business’ environmental footprint. “We saw an interest in the in­dustry and are now pushing these new systems for green energy efficiency,” Keith Broadbent says.

KB Heating & Air Conditioning participated in Lethbridge College’s The Living Home project, which supported the design and construction of an environmentally friendly home in Lethbridge based on materials, energy, water and indoor air quality. The main purpose of the project was to educate students at Leth­bridge College in an open design process so that these practices may be applied to future homes.

According to a faculty facilitator for the School of Engineering Technologies at Lethbridge College, KB Heating & Air Cond­i­tioning was “instrumental in providing expertise and technical information required in the design of the home, as well as the research conducted on the performance of heating and ventilation systems that they installed. The technical staff has an advanced understanding of green design principles and the application of innovative technologies, and we greatly benefited from their ongoing support.”

KB’s Secret Success Factor

The key advantage KB Heating & Air Conditioning Ltd. has over its competitors is the tenure and experience of its employees. “We have a lot of long-term employees,” General Manager Tony Vanden Heuvel says. “I think that speaks a lot to the commitment of the people who work for the company. The culture here is very strong.”

“Underachievers don’t usually last here very long,” Keith Broadbent adds. “We take a lot of time to perform extra training, and try to train them in multiple areas. We leave that as an option to the ones who want to learn a second or third trade. We’ll support them all the way through. Our service department offers in-house training for our employees, and they do a really great job – better than when we try to outsource. And we also put people through project management courses.”

Scott Murakami and Arie Gouw, who head business development and operations, have been with KB Heating & Air Conditioning for more than 20 years. “Starting from as long ago as I did when we were small and even through today as a fairly large company, Keith and Greg have been here every day,” Murakami says. “They look just like every other worker. Even though they’re the president and vice president, they don’t really separate themselves from most people.”

Looking ahead, Keith Broadbent says he’d like to see KB Heating & Air Conditioning’s profits double over the next five years and some of the young members of the company move up the ranks. “A lot of guys like Scott started working in the field and have moved up into a management position,” he points out. “We’ve moved a lot of people from installers and turned them into managers that are able to manage their own departments.

“We want people to understand what our capabilities are,” he adds. “The people we work within the construction industry know who we are and what we can do, but a lot of other people, such as our residential customers, don’t know because it’s not synonymous with our name. We are not just the largest HVAC company in the city, we are also the largest plumbing company. Nobody else – at least not in Lethbridge – is a combined company that does mechanical, plumbing and heating. They may do one, but they’ll subcontract out the rest. We do this all internally because we feel it gives us better control over quality and schedule.”

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