Arlinghaus want its heating and air conditioning service to stand out
Hot pink is the dominant color at Arlinghaus Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.
Owners Brian and Heather Arlinghaus and their employees wear pink shirts. Pink is the dominant shade in the company’s new 8,000-square-foot headquarters off Dixie Highway in Erlanger and even some of its service vehicles carry a splash of pink.
Brian Arlinghaus decided to wear pink shirts after listening to a presentation on the value of being different by motivational speaker and Fear Factor author David Rendall.
“This guy decided to wear pink every day to show he’s different,” Arlinghaus says. “Guys made fun of me at first, but I didn’t tell my employees to wear pink shirts. They all asked to. They understand why we wear them because we are different.”
By standing out from the competition, Arlinghaus is marking its 10th anniversary in June, but it won’t have much time to celebrate because this is the peak season for air conditioning service and repairs.
“We’re going to have some giveaways to customers and have a community celebration here around back-to-school time,” Arlinghaus says.
The company moved into its new facility, a former Dollar General store, last fall, adding 20 employees and increasing its staff to 57. Arlinghaus is already making plans for another 8,000-square-foot expansion adjacent to its office and warehouse to accommodate its growth.
The company added a plumbing license to its services last fall and is expanding its plumbing staff.
“Plumbing isn’t much different from the services we’re already offering,” Arlinghaus says. He adds that his customers need plumbing services and that adding the service makes sense for the business as well as its customers.
Arlinghaus, 47, started in heating and air conditioning with a high school summer job and fell in love with the business.
“I always liked fixing things and putting them back together,” he says. “But the fact you’re able to help people in a time of need is what really drives me.”
It’s a trait he says he admired in his grandfather, James Sullivan. “He always made people happy and brought them together. It’s why I do what I do,” says Arlinghaus, who keeps his grandfather’s gold velvet wing chair in his office as a reminder.
After several years working for other HVAC providers, Arlinghaus formed Arlinghaus Heating & Air Conditioning, starting in a small space over Ernie’s Garage on Ash Street in Elsmere.
It was in the midst of the Great Recession, but the business grew from day one, he says. So much so that Brian’s wife, Heather, left her job in the insurance industry to manage the business.
“Heating and air conditioning is the most expensive appliance in the home and we try to educate consumers on why they need to do maintenance. It’s like a car, you’ve got to change the oil,” says Heather.
Homeowners get every penny they spend on maintenance back in the form of energy savings and costly repairs avoided, adds Brian.
Arlinghaus says a big factor in the company’s growth, averaging 25 percent annually, is the experience it offers customers.
“It’s reflected in the way we answer the phones, the way employees present themselves to customers and the way our vehicles look on the road,” he says.
“Back when I was growing up heating and cooling wasn’t considered a professional business. It was looked upon as a trade,” he says. “When we started the business, we felt it was important to show we are different.”
Arlinghaus felt so comfortable in its approach it began asking customers to review the service they received and posting them online.
“We want them to review our employees. So people know the kind of people we’re putting in their homes. That’s important to us,” says Heather. A three-time winner of NKY Magazine’s Best of NKY event, Arlinghaus offers service across the Tristate.
Arlinghaus also takes a lot of care in the people it hires and that can be a challenge when a company is growing as fast as Arlinghaus.
“We don’t want to hire just anybody off the street,” Brian says. “The wrong person can make the rest of the team look bad and hurt the customer experience.”
The company is spending a lot of time and effort recruiting high school and vocation students for careers in heating and air conditioning.
“We want them to look at this industry alongside going to college,” Brian says. “There’s good pay and benefits, you learn a trade and come out debt free.”
The company has recruited about 10 employees from Gateway Community & Technical College and local high schools and is creating an in-house lab to teach trainees necessary skills.
The company also contributes to a variety of local church, school and charitable activities including being a sponsor of the Florence Freedom’s Junior program.
“As I was starting in the business Heather gave me a sign that said: ‘People don’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care,’” says Brian.
“We know what we’re doing, but showing that we care has been a big part of our growth.”