“FIT for Success”: Tom Harvey’s Journey From
HVAC Helper To Business Owner
Tom Harvey’s journey from HVAC helper to business owner is a testament to following your dreams while doggedly executing a plan. As the owner of Holy City Heating and Air (Charleston, South Carolina), Tom is one of a thriving community of Daikin Comfort Pros (DCP’s) that built their businesses through the DCP program. Today, Holy City Heating and Air, LLC concentrates on selling the benefits of Daikin FIT. We asked Tom to share his journey and what it takes to be “FIT for success” in the challenging HVAC market.
In 1999, as a new HVAC helper doing line sets and condenser set-outs, Tom noticed subcontractors installing ductwork were “crushing it.” So, he began calling every HVAC-related business from A to Z in the Yellow Pages pitching his services until someone finally gave him a shot. With a truck and tools, he formed a crew and went to work. Within a few years, Tom said, “I was making more money than many of my peers who were just starting careers or still in college.”
After earning a commercial HVAC contractor’s license, he formed his own company, Coolbreeze, LLC in 2007. “I [then] proceeded to underachieve for quite a time after that,” he said. Coolbreeze closed shop seven years later in 2014.
Tom explains, “All that time, from 2007 to 2014, I had no CRM or accounting software; I didn’t know what Quickbooks was. I was a pretty good installer and fix-it guy, but I had zero business background.”
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In 2015, Tom reopened under the name Holy City Heating and Air, LLC. It was “just me, a beat-up truck, and a bag of tools.” For Tom, life changes around this time had a profound impact on his business. He met Jennifer, now his wife. “Her nearly delusional love and support strengthened me, and with all the positive things she brought me, the business strengthened as well,” Tom said. Positive feedback from Holy City Heating and Air, LLC customers added momentum. Then, Tom gained full custody of his nine-year-old son – and a truckload of new responsibilities.
“Having structure and a dependable routine began to change everything for me,” he explains. “It had a snowball effect; a great one.”
The tipping point for Holy City Heating and Air, LLC came in 2017 when Tom attended AHR Expo for the first time. “This industry was so much bigger than I’d ever known,” he said. “Being able to see the reach and importance of this worldwide industry that I was a part of changed me. I left there with a fire to learn how to build the best HVAC company ever.”
To do that, Tom said, “I read every blog, I listened to all the podcasts, I read (listened) to all the books. I probably listened to some bad advice from people on Facebook too.” Two years later, Tom hired his first employee, and a month later his second and third. Then four more employees joined the company. In 2019, Tom went all in, joining the Electric & Gas Industries Association (EGIA) and taking their training sessions on business development. He began inviting his team members to join him, helping them grow into the employees Holy City Heating and Air, LLC needed to succeed.
“I learned how to departmentalize a budget, I learned about (business) culture, I learned how to organize a company, I learned about marketing and KPIs – all of these things – and I was taking massive action,” he explains. “Next thing you know by 2022 we are in the top 25 percent of the Inc. 5000 list.”
Last year, with 19 trucks on the road, Holy City Heating and Air revenues came in just shy of $7 million. According to Tom, each “day provides around 30 team members an opportunity to do a good job for our customers and for themselves.”
Editor: In Part 2 (June) Tom Harvey explains why the introduction of Daikin FIT has become an effective differentiator for Holy City Heating and Air, LLC.