Larry from All Star Mechanical Heating & Cooling talks about indoor air quality in this short video. Do you need to clean your ducts? How old is your home? Older homes have had air zooming through those ducts for 30, 40 or 50 years – and furnace filters can only do so much. What’s lurking in your ducts? Dust, sure. But is there more? Bacteria. Insects. Rodent droppings? These things can cause illness in people with health issues. Cleaning your ducts means that the furnace filter can do it’s job better – and you can breathe easier.
Should you turn your thermostat down to save money? In the past, this was true – furnaces were huge and inefficient. But today’s modern furnaces, that are sized correctly, work efficiently at maintaining the temperature in your home. Natural gas now is so cheap (by comparison) that you won’t notice a change in your energy consumption or costs by turning your thermostat down.
Maintain a comfortable temperature and let your modern furnace do the work it’s designed to do!
Some of you may have heard this story before, but I’ve never posted it here. I started this business in 2007, and I thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, I was good, but I didn’t realize how much I had yet to learn, but I did. The part that was most surprising was how much I had to unlearn. I took the advice of some people who genuinely wanted me to succeed, and eventually it has paid off.
After the first few years of struggling to implement better practices, I started to really gain confidence and see how much of a difference it made. I started to really feel like all the years of working for someone else, that they were really just about profit and not about doing the best work. My head swelled.
I think I was a bad date, because all I ever talked about was HVAC. We’d be out to dinner with family or friends, and all I could talk about was air conditioning, or thermostats, or furnaces, yada yada. So much so, that I often wondered if everyone at the table was secretly asking my wife to shut me up already. I’m sure I’m exaggerating a little bit, I do have other interests, but I was floating on the HVAC cloud because I loved it so much.
I always envied my wife from the time I met her. She had drive, passion, and could command the attention in a room, and hold a conversation with anyone. She had a major in anthropology/paleontology with a minor in religion. She was on the watch list when President Reagan visited her grade school because she wrote a letter to the White House about his policies. She got her school to stop using styrofoam in the lunch room. I told her that I felt like I was missing something in my life, I wanted what she had. I just didn’t know what it was. But as much as I loved HVAC, that wasn’t it.
Fast forward, and things have taken a shift for me personally. As much as I talked about HVAC then, I now have a new passion. And it all started in 2012. The killing of Trayvon Martin was so sad, as I had children close in age. I imagined how that must feel as a parent. The killing was bad enough, but it was what happened afterward. A lot of people were defending George Zimmerman and villainizing Trayvon. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was the first time that I can remember thinking that something was truly wrong. After that, I started noticing more and more instances that I couldn’t accept. From Mike Brown, to Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Botham Jean. I started to speak. I attended my first Black Lives Matter rally, and made my first public post on this page showing my support and calling on other business owners to publicly speak. But when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, he inspired me to do more. I watched him explain the reasons and one of my first thoughts was that, here’s a guy on the biggest stage knowingly sacrificing his career, and if he can do that, than I can do more. He was respectful, he was honest, and he was courageous. He knew that his actions would be met with swift whitelash. I began to seek out ways to learn more, so that when I engage, I’d be able to do so with resources and examples from history, distant and not so distant. But honestly, it’s pretty plain, I really only needed what I’ve seen with my own eyes. The double standards are truly glaring, unless you just refuse to see it.
So now, I’m equally a bad date, because going out to dinner can sometimes be dramatic. Now I often wonder if everyone is saying to themselves or secretly asking my wife to not bring me to dinner because they don’t want to hear anything more about injustices. I’m fortunately surrounded by people who mostly agree with my opinions, but that doesn’t mean they want to talk about it. It’s obviously not a fun conversation.
My wife still inspires me, and as much as I’d like my life’s mission to be one with more sunshine and sparkles, the path I’m on in one of love, and there couldn’t be anything better than a path rooted in something everyone has in common; the desire to belong, and feel loved.
So, if you’re here for the HVAC, we’ll be ready when you need us. If you’re here for the social justice, I’m not going anywhere. It took me a while, so I’m just hoping that I can convince others of the truth before they get into their 40’s like it took me. The youth are the ones who will lead us to the future, which will hopefully be full of the change we need. Tomorrow is too late, we need everyone today.
How is HVAC similar to American culture and society? Well, the first image is of a furnace that’s approximately 10 years old. And now it is heading to a landfill. It was oversized, and it never achieved the efficiency that it was engineered and manufactured to be. 10 years ago, some salesman, dressed in slacks and and a button up collared shirt sold this as a high efficiency furnace. Then they sent a guy like me out to install it. When you work for a company like this one, (I did work for that company almost 20 years ago) we do what we are told. When you just do what you are told, you develop habits, and you also form ideas and opinions, as well as gaining confidence and practices. You don’t question anything.
When I started All Star in 2007, I only knew what I was taught. I quickly learned that there was more that I didn’t know, than there was that I did know. It never occurred to me that as an employee, that I wasn’t being given the best information, or that we weren’t doing things to the highest standards. I had to unlearn what was taught and I started to figure out was that most people don’t do that. The status quo is to keep doing what you’ve always done because on the surface, everything is working.
The problem with oversizing equipment is that, for starters, a lot of people purchasing equipment never get the desired efficiency, which ends up costing more because it uses more fuel than it should. Not only that, but it puts more wear and tear on the equipment because it will start and stop frequently. It’s kind of like a high traffic door vs a door that rarely opens or closes. The high traffic door will need to be replaced much sooner than the door that stays closed. So this furnace at 10 years old, used much more fuel, and it opened and closed so much, that it didn’t last.
American culture has dictated that bigger is better. Bigger trucks, bigger homes, bigger bank accounts, heck why not, bigger furnace.
I have been in the practice of installing smaller equipment since 2007. I’m installing equipment that replaces the heat closer to the rate that the home is losing it on the average coldest day of the year, to be able to maintain a desired temperature, or equipment that is removing heat close to the rate it’s gaining on the average hottest days of the year. Not only will you get better efficiency, but you’ll put less wear and tear on the units, they’ll last longer, you’ll have less repairs, and you’ll get much better comfort.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve made a huge difference in comfort, particularly with 2 story homes that have staggering temperature differences between the 1st and 2nd floors with smaller equipment. But the challenge is that before we were able to do that, we had to convince the people living there. Getting multiple bids has always been encouraged when you are spending thousands of dollars. The problem is that it’s not always apples to apples, ESPECIALLY in the heating and cooling business, particularly in Lansing, MI.
Let’s say you get 4 quotes, and 3 of them are from local, we’ll known companies, and the 4th is from All Star. You tell everyone that the 2nd floor is much hotter in the summer than the 1st floor. Logic says the AC is t big enough, so the other 3 companies have already said they be willing to put in a larger unit, but Larry from All Star comes out of left field and says he wants to put in a smaller unit. Well that just sounds crazy. Larry must be wrong. These other 3 companies with a combined experience of 150 years vs Larry and All Star with 15. There’s no way Larry can be right.
I get it, that’s a tough call. You either trust Larry or you don’t. But after an explanation that describes exactly why it will work better, you’ll at least have a chance to understand why it will work better.
We’ve been conditioned to accept that bigger is better. The funny thing is that the second picture is much smaller equipment than the first. The company that installed the equipment in the first picture also gave a quote for replacing equipment they installed 10 years ago. They also have a gimmick of BOGO, buy a furnace and get a free air conditioner. But only after they Jack up the price of the furnace. And they quoted bigger equipment too boot.
American capitalism is an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum.
We’ll just keep doing what has made us the best residential HVAC company in Lansing. We actually have your best interests in mind.
75 years ago, we built things to last forever. Contractors were comparable acrossed the board. You could take a dart and throw it at the phone book and almost 10 out of 10 times you’d get a quality contractor. Now, you’d be hard pressed to get it 2 out of 10 times. Marketing has become more about making the company rich, and truly nothing about the consumer, accept to get your attention. Apparently it is doing exactly what it was designed to do. And that doesn’t bode well for the people.
If other HVAC companies were doing what I am doing, that would make it a level playing field. My job is harder than theirs because they are making it harder for me, but it only works for them because we are a small company, so the few jobs we take from them are not hurting their pockets. But we are growing, slowly. It may take a decade for us to impact their bottom line, but it’s the only way. We will not sacrifice our standards and sell the consumer short
It’s THE AD that has everyone talking. Bridge MI interviews Larry Kirchoff about it in this article. The article (fittingly for Bridge) does feature other vignettes from business owners doing good and some, not so much. But mixing business with activism is what makes Larry who he is and it’s no surprise to the Lansing community the passion that Larry brings to both HVAC and social justice issues. Read more here: