By JOHN GORALSKI
Tom Nichols had to raise his voice over the loud hum of the cement mixer as he and his brother, Kurt, escorted a visitor through the construction site on Spring Street. All around them, a small army of local craftsmen were scrambling across the site. A cinder block wall rose behind them. On the other side of the building, baskets of concrete forms were scattered alongside the footings.
“We have all local guys working here,” Kurt said with a smile, and the two began listing the work crews from the architects and foundation crews to the roofing and landscaping workers.
The ductwork, they’ll do themselves.
Ductworks HVAC Services (www.ductworkshvac.com) has been family owned and operated since 1992, and they moved into their current facility in 2004 with just four employees. Over the last decade, Ductworks has swelled to more than a dozen employees, and they quickly outgrew their small facility.
“We’re a state licensed heating and air conditioning company, and we do about 70 percent residential and about 30 percent commercial,” said Tom. “We do new construction, add and replacement, and some indoor air quality stuff like duct cleaning and air vents. We’re growing in all areas, but right now we just need more garage facilities to handle even more employees.”
It’s a good sign that the economy is on the upturn in town, and the reason that the Nichols brothers decided to undertake the expansion rather than relocate. They were both raised in Southington, and their business began with new construction jobs in town. Over the years, it has blossomed into repairs and upgrades.
About five years ago, they began a partnership with Carrier, a division of United Technologies, and earlier this year, Ductworks was recognized with the 2015 President’s Award. The family company is the first in the state to receive the prestigious award. It’s also the reason why they needed to undertake the expansion project.
“We require more infrastructure, and hiring new employees means that we have to do more training because we’re a factory-authorized dealer, and there are certain requirements for training that we have to do,” said Tom. “We usually have to go off-site for those trainings, but this is going to let us do it here, in-house. But just to manage our trucks and have the ability to park them is going to be great.”
The expansion project entails an additional 3,500 square feet of workshop and garage space, along with 2,500 square feet of office space. The facility will include ultra-high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, a state of the art refrigerant system, and full training facilities for future and current employees.
The brothers considered moving to a new location or building a cheaper, steel construction building, but quickly discarded both ideas. They visited neighboring towns, but decided to continue building a high quality business locally.
“We could have done a steel building. That would have been a lot cheaper and easier to build, but we weren’t going to do that,” said Kurt. “When we are going to do something, we are going to do it nice and 100 percent. We’re spending the extra money, and it’s worth it.”
To make it happen, they worked with Southington’s Economic Development Director Louis A. Perillo III. They partnered with the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development to secure a $300,000 low interest loan, and they re-invested a significant amount of their own money to create the facility.
“This is an awesome success story. Their dedication to grow in the community is of vital importance,” Perillo said. “These businesses are the backbone and the foundation of our community, not only from the revenue that they provide with taxes, but more importantly the jobs they create and the services that they provide to our town.”
Perillo said that the local expansion is a big win for the community. The company will be able to continue to grow within its local area. The new training facility and warehouse will allow them to increase their service, along with a larger office staff to proved 24 hour customer service, 365 days each year.
“We wanted to stay in Southington, but we looked at Bristol and Plainville and Cheshire,” said Tom. “At the end of the day, we couldn’t find a place that would be more suitable for us geographically than Southing-ton.”
Perillo championed the decision.
“As businesses like these get stronger and grow, look at the business that comes from it,” said Perillo. “They buy gas. They buy insurance. They’re hiring people to construct that new building. The land value remains strong. The borrowing makes our banks stronger. There’s a significant multiplier effect that goes into small business expansion. I can’t thank them enough. More importantly, I hope our community appreciates every small business in town.”
To comment on this story or to contact Observer editor John Goralski, email him at JGoralski@SouthingtonObserver.com.