Small Business Today Magazine MAR 2016 AMERICAN SERVICES - Page 10

COVER STORY to become an entrepreneur or a business owner but I had to put bread on the table and that’s why I went into business,” recalled Tony. That is when he started a company that dealt with maintenance for other companies. Tony, Master Electrician, reviewing Close-out Documentation on a chiller replacement project. Photo courtesy of American Services. Tony’s background had mainly been in sales and marketing. He got into the air conditioning business really just by chance. The air conditioner in his office had broken down in the middle of July. Someone called him from his office and informed him that it was broken so he rushed back to troubleshoot it. Upon his return to his office, Tony examined the air conditioner and determined that the compressor had burned out. Tony’s company used to have the contract for maintenance with Maxwell House Coffee and they would get parts and supplies from Grainger which was just across the street from the Coffee Plant. Tony instructed someone in the office to call Grainger and order an air conditioning condensing unit and he would go pick it up. After going over to Grainger to pick up the condensing unit, Tony was told to back up to door number one but first give them his license. Tony handed them his driver’s license and when he did that, they started laughing. The manager then was more specific and said, “Tony, you need to have an HVAC license.” Tony was taken off guard and exclaimed, “This is a free country! This is a free economy! This is free commerce!” Seeing that Tony was upset, the manager tried to cajole him by asking, “Can you go to Walgreen’s and buy one little pill of penicillin without a prescription from a licensed physician?” That’s when Tony had his aha moment and said to himself, “That’s where profits lie!” “Larry and I have been friends for over 30 years,” recalled Tony. “When I realized there was money in the air conditioning business, I called Larry and said, ‘Let’s team up because if you do what you do Larry is seen here checking the DDC Controls for proper performance against factory specifi- well and I do what I do well, we’ll be able cations. Photo courtesy of American Services. to succeed. I can market and sell it; you can fix it. There’s nobody that I know who 8 SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE [ MARCH 2016 ] knows more about refrigeration, air conditioning, and electrical than you, Larry.’” Larry quickly replied, “No. I don’t need a partner!” Larry initially said no because he had heard horror stories about partnerships that hadn’t worked out and he was used to doing things on his own from the time he began in business in 1983 until early 2000 when Tony asked him to team up. Larry began contemplating the advantages of partnering with Tony. He had learned everything through trial and error and running his own business was a lot more than he had bargained for. “I learned everything the hard way,” related Larry. “I thought I was a great air conditioning technician and that’s all you need to run a business. I found out the hard way that one thing doesn’t have anything to do with the other! I made a whole bunch of costly mistakes in learning how to run a business.” Larry finally agreed to work with Tony after thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons. One of the biggest reasons he decided to partner with Tony was that he recognized that they shared the same values: integrity, honesty, and ethics. Initially, Tony and Larry d Y