July 2011

Look for the Superior Man in the Yellow Van

Author: Lance Hanlin | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Operating a heating and air company in southern Beaufort County is a tough business. With more than 80 mechanical contractors registered in the Bluffton and Hilton Head Island area, competition is fierce.

The transient client base compounds the problem. HVAC service providers often have to work business-to-business with property managers rather than business-to-customer with homeowners. With so many tourists, marketing is also a struggle.
Despite these challenges, Superior Heating & Air Inc. owner Dave Miller has found a way to make his company stand out. “We put customer service above all,” Miller said. “Word of mouth isn’t the best way, it’s the only way. We’ve proven we’re not fly-by-night or here today, gone tomorrow.”

Since opening its doors in 1999, Superior Heating & Air’s business has grown at least 10 percent each year, even through the recent housing market slump. The trick has been staying a step ahead of the competition.

Miller’s technicians have used laptops and printers in the field for years, providing customers with easy-to-follow forms in place of those industry-standard chicken scratch invoices. He also believes that his company of 22 employees installs better products in both residential and commercial buildings.

“People have to understand HVAC systems in this area can have as much as a five-year decrease in life expectancy due to the salt in the air,” Miller said. “That’s why we use American Standard as our brand. The coils are primarily built out of aluminum. Other manufacturers use copper coils that corrode. Our brand, in our opinion, is built better for the coast.”

Miller also backs his service with a 117 percent money back guarantee. To date, only a handful of unhappy customers have taken him up on the offer. Not bad, considering the demand put on HVAC systems through the sweltering summer months here in the Lowcountry.

“We refer to ourselves as home comfort specialists,” Miller said. “Our job is to keep a home comfortable. If it has anything to do with heating, air conditioning or indoor air quality, we handle it; from service repairs to maintenance to replacements.”

Another feature that separates Superior Heating & Air from the pack is its membership plans. Instead of having a typical one-year maintenance agreement, Superior Heating & Air offers customers memberships on various levels. One benefit all members receive is a two-year warranty on parts and labor. Other membership benefits include annual tune-ups and inspections.

“Our members don’t pay for service call diagnostic fees,” Miller said. “They don’t pay for after-hours fees, and we don’t charge them overtime.”

Some memberships cover the cost of repairs. Another membership, called the air concierge plan, allows Superior Heating & Air to install thermostats and monitor the HVAC system remotely through servers at its office.

“We can check a system out and make sure it is running correctly,” Miller said. “If a customer is coming into town and the system has been off for a couple of weeks, we can get that system up and running from our office so it’s comfortable when they get there.”

A good HVAC unit provides more than comfort. While today’s homes are built better, the air quality inside has actually gotten worse.

“The EPA pretty much states that the air inside your home is several times dirtier than the air outside,” Miller said. “Clean air is going to keep people from getting sick. It can also eliminate allergic reactions and carbon dioxide.”

HVAC systems are also more energy efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems. In order to stimulate the sale of green-friendly equipment, the federal government is offering a $300 tax credit for homeowners who replace an HVAC system in their primary residence.

Once in place, owners can save even more money by keeping their system tuned up. An HVAC uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in the home. On average, 44 percent of utility bills go toward heating and cooling. Maximizing the unit’s potential can drastically reduce a utility bill.

Superior Heating & Air is available to service units 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company is insured up to and over the cost of the home it is working on, and several of its technicians are NATE certified. The business is also affiliated with Customer Care, a third-party company that surveys all customers after work has been completed.

Superior Heating & Air is close to 100 percent satisfaction in those surveys, but that’s still not enough for Miller.
“We’re at 97 percent and we’re still not satisfied,” he said.

Superior Heating & Air Inc. is located at 36 Persimmon St. Suite 202 in Bluffton. For more information, call (843) 682-2665 or visit superior.ac. Become a fan on Facebook at SuperiorAirInc.

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