By Jill Nagy
In the late 1990s, when acquisitions fever was high, a group of venture capitalists made an offer to Fred Giardinelli, owner of Eastern Heating and Cooling, a thriving company that does work throughout the Capital District, including the Glens Falls and Saratoga areas: They would buy his company, but he would continue to operate it.
He accepted the offer, as did enough other business owners, to form a 12-company conglomerate that is now Comfort Systems USA, a national company listed on the New York Stock Exchange that has some $2.1 billion in annual revenues.
Eastern is located at 880 Broadway in Albany and provides heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, and computerized building automation to commercial and industrial customers throughout northeastern New York state. The company has 53 offices of Comfort Systems.
Giardinelli saw the buyout as an excellent vehicle to prepare for his eventual retirement. He could remove his equity from the company but still continue to run it. At the moment, he has no immediate plans to retire.
“I love what I do. I work with a great bunch of people and we do neat, interesting projects. It’s still fun for me. When it stops being fun, that’s when I will retire,” he said.
He said that his company has quadrupled in size in the 20 years since the transition and now employs 110 people. Their service area ranges from Plattsburgh to Newburgh.
The company designs and builds control systems and also services them. After Eastern installs a computerized system, the owner can remotely control heating, lighting, humidity, and the like through the internet. Also, “we can dial in and make adjustments,” he said.
The company was founded in 1945. Giardinelli joined Eastern Heating and Cooling in 1971 and bought the company in 1986.
Since 1945, the company has been serving commercial and industrial customers throughout upstate New York, western Massachusetts and southern Vermont with design, installation and maintenance service.
In 1997, Eastern Heating & Cooling was one of 12 firms to join forces creating Comfort Systems USA. Comfort Systems USA has since teamed up with 90 leading companies to build a major national presence in the HVAC industry. Through this strategic merger, the company can provide all the benefits and resources of a major corporation with our responsive, local presence.
According to the company, Eastern has the largest commercial and industrial service department in the area specializing in factory training for all equipment it sells. They do not depend on subcontractors or the factory to start up our equipment or perform warranty service.
Its Controls Division, which is tightly integrated with mechanical systems, is handled strictly by employees so there is never a conflict of interest.
The local company is online at EHCHVAC.com. Their telephone number is 518 465-8878.
By Jill Nagy