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I Am Norman Podcast [Zac Logsdon]

June 19, 2020 | Blog

Zac Logsdon

Hello and welcome to I am Norman, a podcast about the great city of Norman Oklahoma.

I’m Zac Logsdon and I hope you’ll join me each episode as we hear the stories of the amazing people, businesses, philanthropies and upcoming events in Norman, and what makes our big little city so great.

The I Am Norman podcast is brought to you by Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. When your home or business needs cold air or hot water, call Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 405-823-9641 or visit them online at normanair.com.

Hello Normanites and welcome to another episode of The I Am Norman podcast. Thanks so much for joining us once again. With me today I have the owner of Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. Mr. Brian Porch. Brian, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

Brian Porch

Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be here.

Zac Logsdon

Start off by telling us a little bit about yourself, about your family, and your history with Norman, Oklahoma.

Brian Porch

Well I was born in Oklahoma City, and then moved to Norman, I’ve been here for over 40 years now. I’ve been married for 11 years to my beautiful wife Angela, we got three daughters 24, 15 and seven. My wife and I both graduated from Norman High School. So we’ve been around town for a while.

Zac Logsdon

So what about Norman has made it a place that you not only wanted to stick around and raise your family, but also to start and grow a business, I mean you could do that anywhere. You said you’re born in Oklahoma City. You could go to Oklahoma City or Moore or Norman. What what about Norman is so special to you?

Brian Porch

I really at this point is just all the people, all the connections, there are so many great people doing so many great things in the community. So many great organizations. I’m really kind of feel like I’ve grown up with the town. It seemed like such a small town and now it doesn’t seem like a small town but to me with with all the people that I know and seeing people that I notice kids you know out doing things now in the community and stuff, it’s just there’s a connection there. I just don’t feel like I could leave and go anywhere else. Yeah.

Zac Logsdon

Okay. Tell us a little bit about your your career path and what made you decide first of all to go into this line of work, but then also in what led you to starting your own business?

Brian Porch

Well, coming out of high school at Norman High I wasn’t very goal oriented, didn’t really have a lot of future plans at that point in life but I went to college for a little while and didn’t really – I got kind of tired of doing English and history and those sorts of things and college wasn’t the path for me. I went to work in an oilfield machine shop for a couple years, kind of working my way up and decided that doesn’t really have a bright future in it. I started to look for something else to do and ended up going to vo-tech in the evenings for Heating and Air conditioning. And I think they had maybe like automotive repair and maybe small engine repair, heating, air conditioning, plumbing a couple things like that.

So pretty much just kind of picked it off the list and and once I got into it, it was really interesting. And so I ended up quitting my job and getting into the heating and air field, I worked in heating and air during the day. It takes, you know, three years to get a license and so I could count my time while I was working and count my school time., kind of double up on my time so I could get my license quicker. And kind of stuck in that for about six or seven years and worked my way up to get my license contract finished. I went to OSU in Oklahoma City and took night classes while I was working.

And then after six, seven years of that I got out took a job with the YMCA, I was a maintenance director there for about six years. I kept my heat and air license and I did a little bit of work, you know, on the side for family and friends. And then just kind of by accident, started getting in with some business owners and doing some more work and kind of started a small side business.

It kind of grew to the point started that in 2008 and 2010. I had to make a decision to slow that down and go back to friends and family or make it a full time. Open a full time business. So I took the leap and made a full time business out of it, and we’ve kind of been rolling along pretty good ever since.

Zac Logsdon

So what you know you you you had a job you had a consistent income but decided you wanted to take on the extra stress and headaches that come along with entrepreneurship starting your own business what made you decide to take that leap versus kind of taking the safe route and in just keeping that that consistent job you already had?

Brian Porch

Yeah, you know the one See you there he was really great, you know, great benefit package, really a good solid job but I just always had a passion for the for the heat and air and going into people’s homes and making repairs, fixing things for them and you know. You get a real satisfaction when you go into someone’s home when they’re sweating and you can get their air conditioner working again and make them cool. Or same in the winter when they’re, you know, heaters been out and you can go in there and and get going again for Them. So, I just had a passion for that technology and the mechanical aspect of it and so it’s really just my passion for that, that that made me want to when I was doing it on the side, it was just like, you know, I really love doing this. So I have to do that, you know? If you do something you love, it’s just not really a job. It’s just, you know, part of who you are and what you do.

Zac Logsdon

So how many people you know, I guess I’m assuming you started with with one person you’re just being yourself and grew it. How many people do you employ now?

Brian Porch

Yeah, we started basically, you know, out of the garage with just me and then we just moved into a new building and we’ve got usually got 22-24 employees.

We’ve been Metro 50 fastest growing company in Oklahoma City area for four years in a row. We made the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in the US last two years. That’s great. So we’ve been pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last five or six years of the business.

Zac Logsdon

You must be doing something right. So you see, the one thing you know, a lot of people have seen over the past couple months, a little bit more than that, actually. Now is restaurants obviously having to closed down and have a decrease in business and a lot of industries seeing a downturn, but I would imagine that in your business, I mean, air conditioners break at the same rate, you know, whether whether there’s a pandemic going on or not. Has your business been affected much the past couple months?

Brian Porch

Yeah, we saw a little bit of a slowdown in the overall business. The Plumbing, Heat & Air Service, didn’t slow down a whole lot, but some of the construction stuff and things like that it overall, you know, we had a little slow down. But luckily, we’ve been able to keep all of our guys working, we didn’t do any layoffs or anything like that. And mostly we just had to deal with everybody’s emotions and fears, you know, we had employees, you know, just when they didn’t fully know what was going on and things started shutting down. And then there was fear, you know, going into people’s homes and their, you know, our clients, fear of us coming into their homes and, you know, we had to come up with a lot of stuff really fast and implementing, you know, no contact service calls and, you know, our gloves and masks and, and six feet away from the door when we’re, when we’re, you know, bringing people to door, I’m sure, and things like that.

Zac Logsdon

So talking a little bit about the fears that people have not not only I guess during a pandemic, when they have the fear of contracting the virus and both on both sides, your employees and your customers and in employing those those tactics to try to make everybody feel safe. I know a lot of people, myself included at times have have had fears when it comes to contacting any company that’s coming into your home. A lot of times, that’s Heating, Air conditioning, plumbing, things like that, you know, you’re you’re afraid to let a stranger in your home. You got the pain of having to wait all around all day because, you know, they give you a window of, you know, we’ll be there between 10am and 4pm stuff like that. And then, you know, everybody has this fear of, the average person doesn’t know if the person is being honest, you know. I don’t know anything about my air conditioner. So the person coming in may tell me that I need something new or and I don’t know the difference. What does Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing do differently that that helps customers feel a little less fearful about all of those things?

Brian Porch

Whenever I started the business, that’s one of the big things that I felt about the industry. Was that there was a lot of fear that and I feel like a lot of companies felt like they had a right to just come in your home kind of do whatever they wanted and give you a bill for and feel like there was a lot of customer service lacking so our big focus has been on customer service since we very first started out. So basically we do the background check, every one of our guys when we hire them we do pre-employment drug screens. When we schedule and come out to your home and we schedule in two hour windows we send out a a text message on your phone, we’re heading out. It’ll have a picture of the tech that’s coming in, it’ll have a short bio of him and his experience. There’s a GPS link so you can click on it follow his truck you know right to your doors you know exactly when you you know get into your house you can put the dog up or you know, if you’re driving home to meet him you know you can time it to get there same time. Stuff like that. When the techs come in, they’re gonna go over, you know what the service call is going to entail, they’re going to look at the whole system, they’re not just going to look at the quick little fix before they do any work. They give you all the estimates up front, make sure you approve any charges before they do any work. We want to make sure that there’s absolutely no surprises. And that just, you know, every customer when we finish, you know, they’re 100% satisfied with what we did.

Zac Logsdon

That’s really cool. I mean, great that you’re doing that and you know, that I can imagine that helps put a lot of those fears to rest for your customers. We’re heading into the hottest time of year and as you are well aware, Oklahoma can provide some pretty brutal summers, you know getting up there in the high 90s and even in low 100’s in those summer months. Any advice for people if some, you know, I got a two story house with two air conditioners, or two units, and my my bill climbs, you know, it multiplies, sometimes by a factor of four. In the summertime and every summer when I get that electric bill, I’m scared to open up. Any advice for people entering the summer months to maybe be a little more energy efficient and keep that electric bill as low as possible.

Brian Porch

Yeah, I mean, the first one, it’s so simple, but we see it every day, and that’s change your filters regularly. When the filter gets dirty, that’s just not filtering your house, that’s the air that unit has to breathe. And if it can’t move enough air through the unit, it’s going to freeze up, or it’s going to cause damage to the system. So that’s probably the biggest thing that we see, is just you’ve got to keep the other filters changed. You need to get annual maintenance or have a tune-up on it. Outdoor coil is the same way it’s got to be cleaned, you know, every season, when that starts to get dirty, that makes the pressures higher and that just makes everything more amps which runs your electric bill up, makes the unit run longer and it shortens the life on your unit. So that’s definitely something that that needs to be done. Especially on all the newer equipment in the last 10 years, it’s all a lot more sensitive, you know, to dirt. And so the filters and the coils all need to be cleaned. And you know, make sure those are good to go and then using a WiFi or smart thermostat, probably familiar with like the Nest thermostat. Those thermostats can can kind of learn your habits, even if it’s just a programmable where you can sit back temperature, if he agrees when you’re gone according to your schedule. Then they’ll kind of make their own adjustments and then that’ll help save you you know, a few dollars on electrical also

Zac Logsdon

Imagine if so I own you know, my home and I own an office building and multiple units and my office building into seems like every time there’s a problem, when I make that call to the repair person, the first first thing I say is, have you changed your filters? And inevitably, my answer is ‘No, I haven’t.’ And they say, well try that for it. It’s It reminds me of when you when your computer breaks, and you call them ignition, they say, ‘Have you restarted it?’ And you say, no, yeah, restart it, turn it off, turn it back on. That’s, that’s the that’s the heating and air conditioning version of restarting your computer, right. Just change those air filters out.

Brian Porch

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, obviously we see it and same thing we get out on sometimes on a service call and, you know, we pull the filter out and you see the look on their face. I’m gonna have to pay for a service call for this, you know, like they realize that right? That they just messed up and made a mistake.

Zac Logsdon

And so what is recommended for changing those filters? How often should people be doing that?

Brian Porch

Depends on the home, then what kind of filter you’re using, but I would start checking them every two weeks. When you put the clean one in, check them after two weeks, if there’s still a new check in after two more weeks, see what they look like and you’ll learn, it may only be ever three months, or it may be once a month, it just depends on you know, if you have pets in the home. The higher rated the filter, the more stuff that’s going to trap. So the quicker it’s going to get dirtier. You know, we live near a vacant lot with a red dirt blowing in the air, you know, you’re gonna get dirtier. If you have teenage girls using hairspray and makeup stuff right near your return. You may have to change it every week. So it just depends on the house. But yeah, we just say start with, you know, have you put a plain one in if you’re not sure, check it out for two weeks and then just keep checking it in two week intervals. It takes two months, then the next time you change is probably going to be about two months again, and you’ll kind of learn. What your house needs.

Zac Logsdon

That’s, that’s good input. Thank you. So I want to talk about the skilled trades industry. I know that you know, you mentioned coming out of high school, and you tried college wasn’t for you. And we’re actually in kind of in a weird period of time right now, where I’m, I’m reading a lot of high school students, seniors this year are saying, Listen, if I can’t go to college and have that college experience, I’m not going to go you know, and they’re looking for, you know, maybe an alternate route or you know, the ton of people graduate and college just isn’t for them. You mentioned that you went to more Norman and then OSU and OKC to get your certification. Talk about the skilled trades industry because I know that we’re, you know, there’s a shortage of people going into that line of work.

Brian Porch

Yeah, I was read an article the other day from one of the trade magazines is saying, we have 2.4 million unfilled jobs in the next 10 years in the skilled trades. Wow. I think it was saying that the 2019 was the first time there was more unfilled jobs when there was workers looking for jobs. The gap was growing every month. But the big problem and it’s in construction industry, skilled trades, you know, there’s a stigma about you know, doing manual labor or working in the trades. And it really kind of starts in the school counselors, parents, everybody because saying basically college is the only way to go or, you know, just kind of thing where tons of kids are going to college. not really knowing what they want to do and then they come out and they can’t get a job or they don’t get a job and what they went to college for.

They really just need that education. There’s other routes to go, you know, the Vo-Tech’s skilled trades. It’s not just the technology in the skilled trades from plumbing, the HVAC, electrical, a lot more technical, there’s a lot more computer stuff in it. It’s not just about digging ditches and doing a hard manual labor that a lot of people will you know, associate with it. There’s a lot and there’s really, you know, high paying jobs in a cycle all of our manufacturers or distributors and laws hurt the industry. Their biggest issue that they are working on is labor shortage. They are doing everything they can they’re doing equipment to vo-techs, and they are trying to recruit young people to get into skilled trades so we can, you know, help the shortage. I can speak from my personal experience that when I put out ads I’m looking for licensed, you know, plumbers and HVAC. Guys, it’s extremely hard, you may not get any applications for, you know, long periods of time. It’s very hard to find people. The good news for that for the bet is if you do get into it, I mean, the pay is excellent. You can come out and go to vo tech for a year to three years to, you know, work and get a license, you can make, you know, 60 to 100,000 a year right off the bat with no student, you know, no student loan debt.

Zac Logsdon

You know, that’s, that’s outstanding. I mean, that’s, I mean, more than a lot of a lot of times college graduates are making that much you know, after spending four years getting a degree Some even getting a postgraduate degree come out of school with all this debt and and can’t can’t either can’t find a job or the job they find isn’t making nearly as much as as what they could in the skilled trades that Yeah, sounds standard. Just

Brian Porch

I just hired a guy last week that graduated from LSU last year, and he’s graduating from Metro Tech next week. With HPC, you get a degree in finance from LSU did a couple of internships didn’t really like it worked, he had worked with us and his parents HVDC company and another part of the state. And so after he finished college and moved to Oklahoma City area, decided to go hv AC, you know, go to school, and he’s graduated. And we just hired him on as a technician. So that’s a good example of, you know, he kind of went that route the college route and found out that it really wasn’t what I enjoy doing.

Zac Logsdon

Talk about some of the other skill, obviously, Heating, Air conditioning, plumbing, what else is out there that people could choose from and what’s your advice to somebody that’s kind of starting that down that path as to how to choose, you know, kind of what What paths to take and what school to go to? That kind of stuff?

Brian Porch

I mean, there’s electrician there’s a lot of stuff that I’m probably not even aware of, but in the heating and air and plumbing industry and stuff there is, you know, we have distributors that we have, there’s factories that actually make the equipment, their distributors that buy that equipment and resell it to contractors like myself. You know, they have sales reps, they have, you know, it people, there’s all sorts of jobs and then in the industry, my advice to young people coming out of high school, if you need part time work, you know, try an electrical company HVAC, to any forming company, anything like that. You can go to work, you know, as an apprentice. And you know, see if it’s something you enjoy doing, you can go to vo-tech, and they evening and get your time in faster. Or you could go, you know, to all day, of course, if it’s something that you found that you liked, but it’s easy to get into the industry because, I mean, if you look right now in the ads that you could find plumbing HVAC, electrical apprentices, you could probably get a job about any city that he wanted to.

Zac Logsdon

That’s great. So I, you know, I want to turn turn the conversation a little bit now before before I let you go and talk a little bit more about you, as an individual and learn a little bit about you. These are questions I ask everybody that comes on the podcast. I’m gonna have to start mixing them up a little bit. So they don’t grow stale, but so a question. You and I always preface it by saying this. When when you before this before the pandemic started, and we were all we had to stay at home and we couldn’t go to restaurants. You know, there are so many things we took for granted. You know, I’ve heard answers like You know, hugging people and shaking hands and getting to drive to work, you know, all of these things that you never realized could be taken away from you. And now they have and you realize everything you’re taking for granted. So if you can choose one thing, what’s you know, when things get back to normal? What’s something that you’ll never take for granted again?

Brian Porch

The one thing haircuts. I finally had finally broke down last weekend and let my daughter to cut my hair. But yeah, that that’s been rough. She did really well. I was really nervous. So I held up for several weeks and color to watch some YouTube videos and you know, get it down pat, you know, because she couldn’t mess it but she did you know, that that handshakes was a big one. Yeah, cuz, you know, I’m, you know, interviewing people and just meeting business people and going around and try and, you know, when you’re doing introductions and meeting people, it’s it’s really really hard to not approach them and then not you know reach out to shake their hand or if they do it then remember like they’ll shake their you know, right so that’s been really something that then hard to break.

Zac Logsdon

Yeah it is awkward you see somebody in your in your not only supposed to not shake their hand you’re supposed to stay six feet away. So it’s this awkward, awkward exchange of this weird new social thing that we have going on. So you’ve been around Norman a long time and you probably have a number of favorite restaurants you like to hit? Where Where’s your favorite place to eat and what is your favorite thing to get when you go there?

Brian Porch

Oh my my major one is Torchy’s Tacos – chips and salsa, bacon egg and cheese, I always get bacon egg and cheese. And beef fajita. And I’ve really, really been missing that.

We’ve been on a pretty strict eat at home diet. So we haven’t really eaten out in like the last I think it’s, I think we’re up to like 60 days or something that we’ve been eating at home. Which we eat out a lot. So that’s been a big, big deal. And then my next one is our secret lunch spot which is the Hay-day pizza buffet. There’s, there’s very few people that go there during the school year. So when school is in and there’s no kids there we would go there we go there for lunch and have they have a great pizza buffet. And then they have the big screens and and get caught up on all your ESPN. I love it. You have lunch and and it’s really quiet and they’re kind of our secrets spots. So now the school is going to be out if it does You know, get back up have to wait till you know next fall to be able to enjoy that again.

Zac Logsdon

That’s a good that’s a good one. I hadn’t heard about that. And what’s funny is my daughter actually works at Hay-day in the arcade but she has me that about their pizza buffet being being an option, and it never occurred to me that that could be a good lunch, but that makes a lot of sense.

Brian Porch

I’m letting my secret out, you know people say, don’t tell anybody. I don’t want it to be packed.

Zac Logsdon

So ending ending things on a positive note, just another question. I love asking people tell me something that you’re extremely grateful for right now.

Brian Porch

That to be my family. Being basically stuck at home. And, you know, everything’s kind of slowed down. So it’s really, and then there’s been a lot of, you know, everybody in my family, everybody’s gonna have a grieving process, you know, all of us being able to support each other at home and then just having them there and slowing down. Spending more time with each other. There’s a little bit of good coming out of this stuff, I guess. Yeah, but the glut of people available to slow down from and it’s been more time with their families and stuff.

Zac Logsdon

Absolutely. So last thing before I let you go make I’ll make sure you’re able to share information on how people can contact you follow you find out more information. So your website, your your your social media handles your phone number, share with all that with us real quick.

Brian Porch

Okay, yeah, the best way to get in touch with us if you need anything is Normanair.com, Schedule service online or you can shoot us an email on there or you can give us a call 405-823-9641. Our Facebook @Normanairok.

Zac Logsdon

Your Twitter handle is @Norman_air. And I think your instagram is Normanair all one word.

All right. Thanks everybody for listening. We got a great education in not only Norman Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing but also the skilled trades I got some great information there. I feel like if, if anybody listening is questioning. They or their children or questioning what they what their future holds that is a great option for them and appreciate Brian being on the podcast today to share that. If you’d like to follow this podcast, you can do so on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The address is I am Norman pod. And once again thank you so much Brian Porch for being on on the podcast today.

Brian Porch

Really appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

Zac Logsdon

Thanks everybody for listening and stay tuned for many more episodes to come.

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