Contractors aid those in need this holiday season

Nov. 22, 2011
Contractors give back to their communities, and CONTRACTOR magazine interviewed a handful of contractors doing just that — helping those less fortunate in their local communities.

CHICAGO — ‘Tis the season for contractors to give back to their communities, and CONTRACTOR magazine interviewed a handful of contractors doing just that — helping those less fortunate in their local communities.

Oliver Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, Morton, Penn., is celebrating their 40th Anniversary and in special recognition of this event, Oliver will give away four complimentary heaters to families in need. The program was designed with the idea of helping families who might be experiencing hardships.

“We attempt to give away four heating systems, depending on how many people apply,” said Bernie Sweeney, VP of sales and marketing at Oliver Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. “We gave away seven to eight last year. We often give away as many as we can when we have good applicants. Someone can nominate a family or themselves if they are in need.

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“We go out to churches and townships to find needy people,” added Sweeney. “We also have a bank that donates money for this program and some suppliers help. It’s really grown.”

The first step to apply for a heater is to send in a letter nominating a family or yourself. The letter must describe why the nominee deserves the free heater and include medical circumstances, financial hardships, any community involvement from the family, and any other circumstances that might aid in the evaluation process. The candidate must also own his/her home. Then a board of seven to eight people from the community reviews the letters.

“Then we prioritize the letters based on how each person on the board rated the letters,” said Sweeney. “We look at the total number of points and we put them in order according to that. Then we decide who should go and visit these homes to see if they have a needy heater since you need that to qualify. If it’s only a few years old it’s not needy, but we will do a free tune up on those heaters.”

After the home visits, it is decided who will receive the heaters, and the install is done the first Saturday of the New Year.

“Our employees volunteer their time that Saturday,” said Sweeney. “There are five to six people installing the heaters, so they knock them out in no time.”

For the past several years, My Plumber Heating and Cooling, Manassas, Va., and Nexstar member, has been overseeing a holiday campaign for needy customers. When the company receives a call about a family or someone requiring services, a plumber goes to their home, and if he or she is able to ascertain that the family is truly needy, the plumber does the work for free and writes “Merry Christmas” on the bill. This holiday season, My Plumber Heating and Cooling plans to do this for five families in need.

“Essentially, when one of our techs is faced with a situation where the need is dire, as evidenced when they arrive on-site, they are empowered to make the determination of providing free products or services to the recipients,” said Mark Presgrave, vice president and owner of My Plumber Heating and Cooling. “The majority of the recipients are elderly, children or physically or mentally challenged.”

According Mark Presgrave, Wendell Presgrave, owner of My Plumber Heating and Cooling, came up with the Merry Christmas campaign, an unpublished charitable way of giving, when one of his techs arrived to an amputee’s home during the winter and discovered that she was unable to get out of bed due to the heat being off.

“After she offered to pay $10 per week to fix the system, he decided the honorable and charitable thing was to provide her with a brand-new complimentary system,” explained Presgrave. “The tech fixed the system and wrote Merry Christmas across the invoice.

“Giving back to the communities in which we live is a fundamental principle of My Plumber Heating and Cooling,” said Presgrave. “It allows us to do right by the local people who have helped support our business. We feel people have a responsibility to provide support for one another to build a stronger community.”

In Richmond, British Columbia, a Quality Service Contractor member, Ashton Mechanical Ltd., donated a Community Cruiser vehicle to a local volunteer association, the Circle of Friends established by the Volunteer Richmond Information Services, and the contractor is working in partnership with the association to spearhead a Christmas Toy Drive.

“We have added a wrap to the rear of every van in our fleet promoting this event,” said Patricia Allen, general manager at Ashton Mechanical.

“This is the first time we have been involved, we are a member of our local Chamber and through them became involved with Volunteer Richmond, we became the leader, so to speak, of The Circle of Friends,” said Allen. “Our contribution is the Community Cruiser and associated costs for three years, including changing the wrap to reflect projects throughout the year.

“We will have our vehicles prominently displayed in front of the event for commuters to see during the morning rush, not to mention over 20 vehicles driving around town for a month with a teddy bear wrap promoting the toy drive,” said Allen.

For several years now, Cloverdale Plumbing Company, Boise, Idaho, gives a monetary donation to the local Boys and Girls Club.

“Each year we send thank you letters to our customers,” explained Kenny Calkins, president of Cloverdale Plumbing. “We then explain that with the money we save from not sending Christmas cards we give a donation to the local Boys and Girls club. We’ve been doing that for several years now.”

Calkins said that a few years ago the Boys and Girls Club had a project to complete a facility at a small town near the area, and someone he knew was on the board for the project.

“Then a friend of mine who taught sixth grade for 30 years told me that the Boys and Girls Club did wonderful things for the money they received for at risk youths, so we have been continuing to donate ever since,” said Calkins. “I believe it is important to always donate local as locals are best to use money wisely. And the good will be returned quicker.”

Williams Comfort Air, Carmel, Ind., a Nexstar contractor, is also donating to those in need this holiday season. The company is sponsoring the program “Christmas On Us” with local Cumulus Radio Stations.

“People nominate families who continue to give back to our community even though they are experiencing some rough times personally,” said Joe Huck, president of Williams Comfort Air. “A committee, including members of our team, choose five families, and Williams Comfort Air provides $1,000 to each family. “Unexpectedly, this year we have also identified a family who needs some heating and cooling assistance, so we will check out their furnace with the intention of repairing or replacing it free of charge,” added Huck.

“The best way I can sum it up in words is … our business is heating, cooling and plumbing. Our honor is to give back to our community.”

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