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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Heating, Air Conditioning & Ventilation (HVAC) CATEGORY

Chris Street is a longtime veteran of the HVAC industry and president of Enviro Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2014. He can be reached at (707) 809-5969 or by email.

Chris Street

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Chris Street: A Second Trade

By James Florence

ROHNERT PARK — When a debilitating injury ended his roofing career, Chris Street found himself starting from scratch in a new professional field. In the end, however, his twist of fate resulted in a greater success than he’d ever imagined. “I developed carpal tunnel syndrome early in my roofing career, and when I had surgery to correct it, I lost about 20 percent usage of my wrists,” he explains. “Since I wasn’t able to do roofing anymore, the workers’ compensation department offered to send me to school to learn a new trade. I decided to go into HVAC—I used to see HVAC technicians doing installations on the sites I worked at, and it always seemed like interesting work.”

After completing his term at the Denver Institute of Technology, Chris returned to California and got a job doing residential HVAC work. A few years later, he joined the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association and spent 16 years working for Aaero Heating in Novato before switching to the commercial side of the field. Eventually, after garnering a well-rounded industry expertise, Chris decided it was time to start his own business.

Today, as president of Enviro Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., Chris says his favorite part of his job is improving the functionality and comfort of people’s homes. “I like the process of designing and installing heating and cooling systems, as well as the overall gratification of making our customers’ homes more efficient.”

Chris was born in Missouri, grew up in Novato and today lives in Rohnert Park with his wife, Lori, and their children. Outside of work, he engages in a variety of family activities and personal hobbies. “We’re big Giants fans, so we go to a lot of baseball games,” he says. “I also coach baseball and I’m on the board for the local Cal Ripken league, in which most of our kids have participated.” Chris also enjoys fishing at local reservoirs like Lake Sonoma and going on family vacations to Hawaii.

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d head back to the big island. “I’d take a couple of weeks to relax in Hawaii. Then, after I got back, I’d probably look for some more volunteering opportunities and spend more time working with kids in the community.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?

A: Yes, I played football.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Cricklewood in Santa Rosa.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Country.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: A cheese Danish from Starbucks.

Q: Who’s your favorite superhero?
A: Batman.

 

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Preventative HVAC Maintenance

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A little preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your home’s heating and cooling system performing optimally. The best way to ensure this is by having a professional HVAC technician perform an annual maintenance service on your system.… Read more

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Video: Preventative HVAC Maintenance

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: To ensure efficient performance and maximum lifespan, your home’s heating and cooling systems need to be preventatively maintained. Today we’re in Rohnert… Read more

Todd Lubash is senior project manager of Bell Products, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2012. He can be reached at (707) 654-4190 or by email.

Todd Lubash

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Todd Lubash: Pure Determination

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

NAPA – One’s professional career is a destination to which there are several avenues, from inheriting a family business to spending years getting a formal education. For Todd Lubash, however, the path to his life’s work was paved by pure determination. “After I graduated high school, my parents decided to move out of state,” he remembers. “I opted to stay behind, but I knew I needed a job to support myself. I’d heard of Bell Products’ positive reputation in the community, so I figured it would be a good place to start.”

The average person might have simply dropped off a resume, but Todd wanted to make an impression. “Every morning for about a month, I would show up at the front office, wait for the company president to arrive and ask him if he was ready to hire me,” he says. “Eventually, I think he just got tired of seeing me, so he gave me a job.” Twenty years later, Todd’s tenacity continues to pay off in his position as senior project manager of Bell Products, Inc.

Todd is a third-generation Napa native, where he lives with his wife, Cherie, and their two children, Danika and Nelson. In addition to the temperate local climate, he says one of the best parts of living in the Bay Area is its topographical diversity. “I love being two hours away from pretty much everything. You can go big city, big country, the beach or the snow—whatever you like to do, there’s an opportunity to do it here.”

Outside of work, Todd participates in a variety of activities, including cycling and martial arts. “I’ve been doing martial arts for over a decade,” he says. “I have a background in Kenpo and hand to hand combat, but with the growing popularity of mixed martial arts, I’ve been exploring some other styles.”

In both his life and career, Todd says he strives to follow the example set by his father. “My father was a great model for how to live life well. Telling your family that you love them every day, being honest and doing right by others—that’s the way he lived his life, and I try to live up to that example every day.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: Top Gun.

Q: Do you have a favorite winery?
A: My favorite local winemaker happens to be one of my best friends, Kian Tavakoli. He produces a small vintage every year, and we always have one of his wines in our cellar.

Q: What’s your favorite movie monster?
A: The Blob.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Legos.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Over easy.

Q: What’s your favorite board game?
A: Doghouse. It’s actually a game my uncle created, and my family has been playing it for years. The object of the game is to be the first to get home and avoid being in the doghouse.

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A Whole-Home Approach to Energy Efficiency

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NAPA — As California building code standards continue to advance, many older homes are falling further behind in terms of energy efficiency, which is why more homeowners are taking a “whole-home” approach to making improvements. Rather than addressing a single aspect… Read more

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Video: Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency

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NAPA — Host, Sarah Rutan: There are many ways to make your home more energy efficient. Today we’re in Napa with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Todd Lubash of… Read more

Daniel Sojkic is a longtime veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of AIS Heating & Air Conditioning, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 758-5690 or by email.

Daniel Sojkic

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Daniel Sojkic: A Paternal Partnership

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

FREMONT — After working with his father throughout his upbringing, Daniel Sojkic left home to pursue a career as an HVAC technician, but as it turns out, that wasn’t the end of their professional partnership. “My father was in construction and I used to work for him during the summer and winter breaks from school,” he remembers. “As I approached high school graduation, the heating and air conditioning industry caught my eye, so I decided to go to technical school. After I completed my HVAC training program, I went to work for a local company, and after gaining a few years’ experience, I started my own business in 2008. Around the same time, my dad was looking to retire from the construction business, so he joined me and we’ve been a solid team ever since.”

Today, as owner of AIS Heating & Air Conditioning, Daniel says his favorite part of his job is saving the day. “I like coming to the rescue when a customer’s heating or air conditioning goes out. No one likes being uncomfortable in their home, so when I’m able to restore that for someone, it always puts a smile on their face.”

Originally from Bosnia, Daniel came to the United States at the age of 11. Today, he lives in Dublin with his wife, Selma, and their daughter, Lana. When asked his favorite part about life in the Bay Area, he cites the pervasive variety. “I really like all the different cultures and ethnicities that converge in the Bay Area. It makes it a very rich and interesting place to live.”

Outside of work, Daniel engages in a variety of pastimes, from outdoor activities to hanging out at home. “I like to get out and explore nature,” he affirms. “Whenever I get the chance, I like to go fishing with my dad or spend a weekend in the mountains with my family. I also like watching the Giants, Warriors and 49ers. Other than that, it’s just spending time with my family and keeping busy around the house.”

In his regard to his professional career, Daniel espouses the importance of integrity. “You have to be honest with your clients and deliver what you promise,” he asserts. “When we meet with a new client, we lay everything out so there are no surprises. If something unexpected does come up, we take full responsibility, because I don’t think it’s fair to make the customer pay extra for something we should’ve caught.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Daniel says he would head to a higher elevation. “I would definitely leave this busy life and move up to the mountains, where I could live at a peaceful, slower pace and enjoy nature.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Claim Jumper in Fremont.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Alaska. I went there last year on a fishing trip and it was awesome, so I plan to return the next chance I get.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My daughter.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Pancakes with eggs and sausage—I can never have enough!

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How to Choose the Right Air Filter

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FREMONT — When purchasing an air filter for your HVAC system, you have a lot of options to choose from. One important thing to know about is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating scale, which is used to assess filter… Read more

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Video: Furnace Filter Options

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FREMONT — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to choosing a furnace filter, there are more options available than you might realize. Today we’re in Fremont with… Read more

Kim Haddon is owner of Haddon Heating & Cooling, a Diamond Certified company since 2010. She can be reached at (925) 521-1380 or by email.

Kim Haddon

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Kim Haddon: Learning a New Language

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD – When she got married, Kim Haddon knew she’d be sharing a home with her husband, but she never thought that one day she’d be working side by side with him in a professional environment. “My husband, Dave, has been involved in HVAC from a young age, having worked for his father’s company,” she explains. “After returning to the family business in the late ’90s, Dave decided to expand the company’s operations from mainly commercial work to full residential services.” It was at this point that Kim was presented with an opportunity to become a participant in her husband’s profession. “As the business’ focus shifted to residential work, Dave asked to have my involvement,” she says. “I started out answering phones in the office and things just progressed from there.”

Not satisfied with remaining a novice in her new vocational role, Kim applied herself and gradually developed a thorough knowledge of HVAC technology and techniques. “When I started, I didn’t really know anything about the industry,” she says. “A lot of the terms were completely foreign to me, so it really felt like I was learning a new language.” Thirteen years later, Kim continues to demonstrate her fluency in industry dialect as co-owner of Haddon Heating & Cooling.

Born and raised in rural Minnesota, Kim relocated to Northern California after marrying Dave, a native of the North Bay. Having experienced her share of harsh Midwestern winters, she says the temperate local climate is one of her favorite attributes of life in the Bay Area. “I love being able to enjoy the outdoors year-round. I remember that soon after I moved here, I was sunbathing at the beach in January and called my family in Minnesota to tell them about it!”

Outside of work, Kim enjoys engaging in a variety of outdoor activities with Dave and their three children, Jesse, Rachael and Joseph. “We do a lot of weekend camping trips,” she says. “One of our favorite places to go is Lake Tahoe—there are things to do all year long, from skiing in the winter to boating in the summer.”

In her life and career, Kim espouses the importance of working hard to achieve one’s goals. “If you’re going to do something, you may as well give your all and do it to the best of your ability,” she says. “Whatever it is you’re aiming for, if you just keep at it and put in your time, you’ll achieve it. For me, it was becoming fluent in the language of the HVAC industry. It took a lot of time and hard work, but it eventually paid off.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: The Dead Fish in Crockett.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Music—I sang in choir and also played violin and piano.

Q: What’s your favorite film genre?
A: Science fiction.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Rare and interesting coins. I used to work as a waitress, and I would always look through my change at the end of the night for unusual coins.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My three children.

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How to Locate and Replace Your Furnace Filter

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CONCORD — While routine furnace filter replacement remains a commonly neglected aspect of home maintenance, for some, the problem starts with locating the filter in the first place. Here are a few common places to look: Internally: In many cases, the… Read more

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Video: Find, Remove and Change Your Filters

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CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: An important part of maintaining your home is learning how to find, remove and change your filters. Today, we're in Concord with… Read more

Joe Calvey is a 13-year veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of Calvey Heating & Air, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (650) 525-4554 or by email.

Joe Calvey

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Joe Calvey: Doing Right

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

MOUNTAIN VIEW — After six years in the HVAC industry, Joe Calvey decided to start his own company—a choice largely inspired by a desire to do right by customers. “I started out working in the HVAC union, where my uncle was a foreman,” he recounts. “After about four years, I gravitated toward working with residential contractors, which gave me a chance to interact with homeowners. That was a welcome change of pace from the commercial bent of union work. I enjoyed it, but I saw some contractors doing things I didn’t agree with, like cutting corners and taking advantage of customers. This motivated me to start my own company. I knew if I did things with honesty and had a good work ethic, I would definitely succeed.”

Today, as owner of Calvey Heating & Air, Joe says one of his favorite parts of his job is taking on new challenges. “I like the fact that there are always new things to learn in this industry. I also enjoy working with my employees and seeing them work their way up to becoming skilled technicians.”

A resident of Los Gatos (where he lives with his wife, Christina, and their three children), Joe expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Bay Area. “The weather is great here and there’s plenty of demand for our services. When I first started my business, the economy was terrible due to the 2008 crash, but things have improved a lot since then and we’ve been able to stay busy.”

Outside of work, Joe engages in active pastimes like sports and traveling. “I’m a big sports guy,” he affirms. “I like to play soccer, as well as attend professional sporting events or watch them on TV. I also like traveling with my family and checking out new parts of the world. We’ve been everywhere from Europe to Mexico to Hawaii.”

In regard to his professional career, Joe says good customer service comes down to two main components. “I think honesty and communication are the two biggest things. I’ve found that if you’re upfront with customers and communicate with them at every step of the process, it makes a huge difference. Even when there are problems or setbacks, people really appreciate being kept in the loop.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Joe says he’d give back. “If I retired and had money, I would want to take care of the people who got me to where I am, like my parents and those who helped me progress in my profession. Besides that, I would definitely do some more traveling.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: Liverpool F.C.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ve heard it’s an amazing city, with great food and really nice people.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: I used to mainly listen to music, but these days I listen to a lot of podcasts.

Q: What’s your favorite podcast?
A: “Serial.”

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Fresh fruit.

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Heat Pumps for HVAC

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MOUNTAIN VIEW — A lot of homeowners are interested in lowering their gas bills, especially when it comes to running their heating and cooling systems. One great option for those who have or are planning to install solar energy systems is… Read more

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Video: Reducing HVAC Costs with Solar

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MOUNTAIN VIEW — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re switching to solar energy, you’ll be glad to know there’s a way to reduce your heating and cooling costs… Read more

Susan Nichol is CEO of Cold Craft, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2002. She can be reached at (408) 341-9915 or by email

Susan Nichol

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Susan Nichol: Assuring Quality

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CAMPBELL – Having spent most of her career dealing with angry and frustrated people, Susan Nichol understands the art of public relations better than most. “I’ve had a lot of experience working for telecom and cable companies, handling quality assurance and responding to customer complaints,” she says. “After doing that for as long as I have, you get pretty good at dealing with people without losing your cool.” To this day, Susan says the human element continues to be her favorite part of what she does. “I’ve always been interested in human behavior. I like to see what happens when you put something out there to the public. I’ll take note of what works, what doesn’t and how the whole thing could be improved.”

Originally from the East Coast, Susan took advantage of a lucrative voluntary layoff deal to move to California in 1996, where she had no trouble finding employment in the booming telecom industry. Eleven years later, however, a simple conversation would lead to her transition to an entirely new industry. “I was a member of a local networking group, which somebody from Cold Craft was also a part of,” she remembers. “At one of our meetings, we discussed what was happening at Cold Craft and I gave him some ideas. The next thing I knew, I was working there, too!”

Susan has spent the last 20-plus years working in the Bay Area, where she resides with her husband and two sons. She says that while she’s grown to appreciate the mild local climate, as an East Coast native, it initially took some adjustment. “Frankly, since I was accustomed to eastern weather, it was a bit uncomfortable for me not to see rain from March until November,” she laughs.

When Susan isn’t on the job, she likes to unwind by engaging in a variety of hobbies. “As a California resident, I’ve come to appreciate the fine art of wine tasting,” she says. “I also enjoy doing things with my hands, whether trying the newest recipe from Food Network or making a stained glass window.”

In regard to her professional success, Susan says that while honest self-assessment isn’t always easy, it’s a necessary step toward self-improvement. “It’s human nature to tweak the numbers to make things look better. My advice is to take the numbers, learn from them and work to improve your results over time. Unless you’re taking an honest look at yourself, you aren’t improving—you’re just getting better at fooling yourself.”

Ask Me Anything!
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
A: I love all types of food, so it depends on what I’m in the mood for. A couple of my favorite spots are Alexander’s Steak House and the Silicon Valley Capital Club dining room. I also like authentic ethnic restaurants where you sit on the floor and there’s entertainment like belly dancing—I enjoy the experience as much as the food.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: I’m definitely a dog person. Not only do I think they’re more personable, I’m allergic to cats!

Q: Who’s your favorite movie monster?
A: Godzilla. Who else can come to town, stomp around and leave without cleaning up?

Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: I like several different comedians, from big stars like George Lopez to local performers like Ross Turner and Michael Slack.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Both. If I was on my own schedule, I’d get up early, nap mid-day and party at night!

Q: Have you ever had a conversation with a famous person?
A: Butch Vig. He was the premier producer during the alternative rock boom of the early ’90s, helming records for bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth before finding success as a performer with the band Garbage. He’s actually married to a relative of mine. From getting to know him, I can say he’s as laid back and down to earth as his videos and pictures depict him to be, which isn’t always the case with famous people.

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The Importance of Changing Your Furnace Filter

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CAMPBELL — One simple yet often overlooked aspect of furnace maintenance is regular filter replacement. It’s an inexpensive investment considering the benefits it provides, especially when you consider that neglecting to replace a furnace filter can lead to costly system repairs.… Read more

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Video: Importance of Filter Replacement

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Host, Sarah Rutan: When caring for your home, you’ll need to learn how to maintain and change your filter. Today we’re with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor… Read more

Vincent Casale is an estimator at Bayside Mechanical, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2010. He can be reached at (650) 578-9080 or by email.

Vincent Casale

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Vincent Casale: Winds of Change

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN MATEO — After several years working on the corporate end of the construction industry, Vincent Casale was looking for a change of pace. As it happened, change came in the form of an entirely new livelihood. “After about 15 years in corporate sales and construction management, I wanted to get out of that world and work on a smaller scale,” he remembers. “One day, while I was on a jobsite, I met the owner of Bayside Mechanical. We got to talking, and the next thing you know, he brought me on. My prior experience in construction helped me as I became acquainted with a new industry, and things ended up working out very well.”

Today, as estimator at Bayside Mechanical, Inc., Vincent says his favorite part of his job is making people feel more at home in their homes. “Working in the residential end of the business, I really feel like I’m helping people. For me, it’s not working on houses; it’s working on homes, which I think is an important distinction. I take a lot of pride in making my customers’ homes more comfortable and just improving the quality of their daily lives.”

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Vincent came to the Bay Area soon after marrying his wife, Heather. “Heather is originally from here,” he explains. “We met while she was attending grad school in New York. She always said if we started a family, she’d like to live closer to her family, so as soon as we found out our first little one was on the way, we picked up and headed west.” Today, as a resident of Redwood City (where he lives with Heather and their three daughters, Isabella, Sophie and Emily), Vincent says his two favorite things about his adopted locale are the weather and traffic, both of which he considers moderate in comparison to those of his city of origin.

Vincent spends most of his time outside of work performing his role as a full-time family man. “I love being a father to my daughters and spending time with my family—they definitely keep me busy,” he laughs. He also enjoys cooking and following professional sports. “My family has a bunch of restaurants back east, so cooking has always been a big hobby of mine. I’m also a huge sports fan, and I follow all my New York teams.”

In regard to a personal philosophy, Vincent sums it up with one word: integrity. “In my mind, it’s not what you do in front of people that’s important—it’s what you do when no one is watching,” he explains. “That’s the true test of your character and how you develop trust and relationships with others. So, I’m always trying to instill the importance of integrity in those around me, whether it’s my kids at home or my crew out on the jobsite.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Vincent says he’d head to an exotic location to get some R&R. “I’d take a nice, long vacation. I’d love to go to Hawaii with my family for a few weeks and spend some time at the beach just kicking back and relaxing.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: Being from Brooklyn, my two favorite teams are the New York Jets and the New York Mets.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: It depends on my mood. Usually, I listen to sports talk radio in the morning, but as my day gets going, I put on music.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Classic rock.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of food?
A: Italian.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Playing baseball. I also had a lot of friends from different social groups, so I guess I was also known for getting along with everyone.

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DIY Air Duct Inspection

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SAN MATEO — A common problem homeowners experience with their HVAC systems is inadequate or uneven airflow. While an HVAC company can resolve your airflow issues, before calling a professional, it’s worthwhile to perform a quick visual inspection of your ductwork… Read more

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Video: DIY Ductwork Inspection

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SAN MATEO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re experiencing airflow issues in your home, take a few minutes to inspect your ductwork before calling a professional.… Read more

Raul Galvez is a veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of California Heating and Cooling, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 735-0927 or by email.

Raul Galvez

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Raul Galvez: Still Getting His Hands Dirty

By James Florence, Senior Writer

ANTIOCH — After nearly 40 years in the heating and cooling business, Raul Galvez spends a lot of time in the office, but he hasn’t lost the taste for field work. “I still enjoy getting my hands dirty,” he affirms. “If you stop practicing your trade, you start to lose your skills, so I make it a point to stay fresh and connected with HVAC work. It’s just a part of who I am, and I don’t want to lose that.”
Originally from Peru, Raul began his HVAC career by studying refrigeration as a young man. When he came to the United States, he was glad to find not only that his skills were relevant, but the conditions for performing the work were improved as well. “Doing HVAC in Peru was challenging,” he recounts. “For example, it was a lot harder to get parts—sometimes I just had to repair the old ones because I couldn’t get my hands on replacements. By comparison, working in the U.S. was great. Any time I needed a part, I could just go buy it.”
After working for a few different companies throughout the years, Raul decided it was time to strike out on his own and founded California Heating and Cooling in 2007. Today, he says he enjoys running his own business, not least because it allows him to focus more on customer service and education. “Most people don’t know anything about their HVAC systems, so I like educating customers about maintenance and how to maximize system performance. I’ve always liked helping people, so this is a great way to do that.”
A resident of Antioch (where he lives with his wife, Gladys), Raul expresses his appreciation for the unique character of the Bay Area. “I love it here. The weather is amazing, the people are great—it’s kind of its own thing. I’ve been to a lot of different parts of the United States and there’s no place quite like it.”
Outside of work, Raul spends most of his free time relaxing. “Now that our kids are grown up, Gladys and I get to do a little more relaxing,” he says. “When your kids are small, most of your time is dedicated to them, but our youngest daughter is about to turn 19, so we’re on the verge of an empty nest. We like going out to dinner on weekends and traveling. I go back to Peru at least once a year and we often go to Florida to visit Gladys’ parents.”
In regard to a career philosophy, Raul espouses the importance of professional pride. “The number one thing I teach my employees is to take pride in their work,” he explains. “When you take pride in your work, you’re going to do your best, which will increase the quality of the result. If you’re proud of your work, there’s a good chance the customer is going to be happy with it as well.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Raul says he probably wouldn’t. “I’m don’t really plan to retire because I don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing. I like running my company, being with my guys and working in the field.” However, he admits there’s at least one item on his bucket list. “I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, rent a Ferrari and drive on an autobahn. There’s no point owning a Ferrari in California, where the maximum speed is 65 miles per hour, but to spend a few days driving on the autobahn where you can go as fast as you want…now that sounds like fun.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: A night owl.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Music.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Black Angus Steakhouse in Brentwood.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Stay home, relax and watch some TV.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel. I like to learn new things and it’s fascinating to see how factories operate.

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The Importance of HVAC Maintenance

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ANTIOCH — When it comes to their cars, most people stay on top of maintenance, investing time and money toward changing engine oil, regulating tire pressure, and washing the exterior. Unfortunately, when it comes to their home heating and air… Read more

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Video: The Impact of HVAC Maintenance

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ANTIOCH — Host, Sarah Rutan: Most car owners are proactive about maintenance, but unfortunately, the same can’t be said of homeowners in regard to their HVAC systems.… Read more

Brian Waskow is a 37-year veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of Hometown Heating & Air Conditioning, a Diamond Certified company since 2013. He can be reached at (925) 456-4967 or by email.

Brian Waskow

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Brian Waskow: Career 2.0

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — For most people, retirement means the end of a career, but for Brian Waskow, it was also the beginning of another. “I had a ‘20 years and out’ deal working as a refrigeration mechanic for the plumbing and pipe fitting union, which enabled me to retire in my early 40s,” he relates. “Since I was still fairly young, I wanted to find another industry to get involved with, so I answered a newspaper ad posted by a local heating and air conditioning company. As a former refrigeration mechanic, I found the HVAC industry to be a natural transition.” Over the next 12 years, Brian would learn from “some of the best mentors in the business” while working for “some of the most successful companies in the Bay Area,” before founding Hometown Heating & Air Conditioning in 2012.

Today, Brian says a favorite aspect of running his business is the new faces he meets on a daily basis. “I get to meet all kinds of interesting people, from World War II veterans to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to ordinary, working-class folks like myself, so it’s always exciting to see who I’m going to meet next.” Additionally, he appreciates the fact that the company has become a genuine family affair. “My daughter, Jessica, is our operations manager and my other daughter Nicole’s husband works here as a service rep, so we’ve really earned our designation as a family-owned and operated business.”

Brian was born in the North Bay and currently resides in Contra Costa County with his wife, Yvonne. An avid outdoorsman, he considers the Bay Area an ideal location for pursuing some of his favorite pastimes, which include hiking, fishing, and water and snow skiing. “Living in the Bay Area, I could actually go water skiing and snow skiing in the same day if I wanted to,” he muses. “It’s also a great area for boating. One of our favorite things to do is take our boat to Angel Island and go hiking. Overall, we’re really active outdoors people, which everybody in the Bay Area should be.”

In his life and career, Brian espouses the importance of surrounding one’s self with good people. “There’s an old quote that says, ‘People make the party,’ and the same goes for a business,” he explains. “What differentiates a truly great company is the people who comprise it. I’m very fortunate to have not only some of the best professionals in the business working for me, but also some of the best people I know.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he retired (again) tomorrow, Brian says he wouldn’t change a thing. “Ever since I started my own business, I don’t feel like I’ve worked a single day, just because I enjoy what I do so much. Plus, I already take enough vacation time as it is!”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Would you ever skydive?
A: I already have, actually. On one of my birthdays, my daughters and I went skydiving in Monterey and landed on the beach. It was a wonderful experience.

Q: What’s your favorite smell?
A: Bacon.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird—I’m at the gym at 5am most days.

Q: If you could talk to anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: General Douglas MacArthur, just because I think he’s a fascinating historical figure.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Beef jerky.

Q: What was your favorite Halloween costume as a child?
A: Superman.

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Tips to Improve HVAC Air Filtration

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CONCORD — Air filtration is a crucial HVAC feature that affects everything from system performance to indoor air quality (IAQ). Consider the following tips for improving your HVAC system’s filtration: Check the MERV rating. Air filters are rated on a scale of… Read more

Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat

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CONCORD — If you’re looking for an economical way to save energy with your HVAC system, consider installing a programmable thermostat. Not only can a programmable thermostat reduce your heating and cooling bills, it can also simplify your daily routine and increase… Read more

The Benefits of Proactive HVAC Maintenance

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CONCORD — Whether in regard to your car, home or personal health, it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive about maintenance. When it comes to your home’s heating and cooling system, a great way to exercise pro-activity is to… Read more

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Video: Programmable Thermostat Advantages

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CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you want to save time and money with your HVAC system, your first step should be to get a programmable thermostat.… Read more

Steve Moore is a veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of Moore Mechanical, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2007. He can be reached at (925) 560-1505 or by email.

Steve Moore

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Steve Moore: A Fresh Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DUBLIN — As a union tradesman, Steve Moore was in between projects when he decided to take advantage of a fresh opportunity. “Before I got into residential HVAC, I was working out of a union shop in San Francisco,” he recounts. “I had just finished a big project and was waiting around for the next job, as is often the case with union work, and in the meantime I started doing jobs for friends and family. It wasn’t long before I realized waiting for union jobs didn’t make much sense when I had people ready to give me work. Ultimately, I decided to leave the union and start doing residential HVAC work, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

Today, as owner of Moore Mechanical, Inc., Steve says his favorite part of his job is interacting with employees and customers alike. “I enjoy training my employees and watching them grow and be successful in the industry. Of course, I also get a lot of satisfaction from providing our customers with a high level of expertise and professionalism.”

A resident of Danville (where he lives with his wife, Wendy), Steve expresses his appreciation for the character of Bay Area work and life. “We’re very lucky in that we have both great weather and access to outdoor activities with the beach and mountains close by. From a business perspective, the Bay Area offers everything from excellent demographics to cutting-edge technology, so it’s great being able to offer the best systems to customers who appreciate quality.”

Outside of work, Steve engages in a variety of active pastimes, from outdoor pursuits to charitable activities. “I’m an avid cyclist and enjoy both mountain biking and road biking, the latter of which I do somewhat competitively,” he says. “I also do a lot of camping in the mountains with my family. Other than that, my wife and I are very involved in our church and like taking part in missions, both locally and abroad.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Steve espouses the importance of the customer experience. “We’re committed to providing our customers with a great experience from start to finish,” he affirms. “This starts with the initial phone call and goes all the way through the job’s completion. We want each customer to feel great about the decision they made in hiring us, to the point where they can’t help but tell their friends and family about it.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Steve says he’d take his cycling hobby to a new locale. “I’d go for a week-long cycling trip in Italy. Of course, long-term, I would continue contributing to my business through training and teaching, and just make sure it continues to be healthy going into the future.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee.

Q: If you could live in the city or the country, which would you choose?
A: The country.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: Did you play any high school sports?
A: I played football and wrestled.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old-fashioned, wall-mounted thermometers.

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Addressing the Big Picture with HVAC Estimates

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DUBLIN — When getting an estimate for a new heating, cooling and ventilation system, make sure it addresses the big picture. First of all, the estimate should address all aspects of system operation, not just the HVAC unit itself. The estimate… Read more

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Video: What’s in an HVAC Estimate?

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DUBLIN — Host, Sarah Rutan: When reading an estimate for a new heating and cooling system, there are several things you should be looking for. Today we’re… Read more

Cindy Faulkner is president of Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. She can be reached at (408) 827-8994 or by email.

Cindy Faulkner

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Cindy Faulkner: A Natural Transition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — After 11 years as president of Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, Cindy Faulkner looks back on her accession to ownership as a natural transition. “For more than a decade prior, I was basically running an HVAC company for someone else, and there were many things I would’ve done differently if I were the owner,” she remembers. “After the company was sold, I felt it was time to strike out on my own, so when the opportunity arose to purchase Valley Heating, Cooling and Electrical, I jumped at it. The transition from employee to owner felt natural, not only because of my prior industry experience, but also because I came here knowing what I wanted to do.”

Originally from the Midwest, Cindy moved to the West Coast in 1990, where she found work as an installation coordinator for a local HVAC contractor. Later, she was promoted to company vice president, and soon after she met her husband, Jeff. “I actually hired him as a service manager,” she laughs. “We’re still working together—he oversees the technical side and I handle the operations. We make a great team!”

After 24 years living in San Jose, Cindy says she enjoys being part of the local business community, citing the local Rotary Club as a key connecting point. “Since I’m from out-of-state, getting involved with Rotary was the best thing I could’ve done. When I first came here, I didn’t have any local connections—now I feel like I have 450 friends! In addition to being beneficial from a networking standpoint, it feels great to be part of a club that gives so much back to the local community.”

When she’s not working, Cindy engages in a variety of activities, from skiing and boating at Lake Tahoe to wine tasting in the Napa Valley. Additionally, she and Jeff enjoy traveling. “My family is in Colorado and my best friend is in Orange County, so we make it a point to visit them regularly,” she says. “Also, my husband is a big racing fan, so we attend a lot of the major racing events, including the Indianapolis 500.”

In her life and career, Cindy espouses the value of positive thinking. “The quote I always tell everyone is, ‘Life is too short not to be happy.’ In addition to doing what you love, I think it’s important to keep a positive outlook, because it really affects everything and everyone around you.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Cindy says she’d head straight to her lake house. “If I retired, I know I would have one,” she laughs. “That’s the goal. As soon as I’m able to buy a lake house, I’ll know I’ve made it and then I can retire.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite Bay Area winery?
A: It’s a tie between Rombauer Vineyards in Napa and Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards in Saratoga.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: I was voted “Best Hair” in the yearbook.

Q: If someone was making a movie about your life, what actress would you choose to play you?
A: Julia Roberts.

Q: Who would play your husband?
A: Hugh Grant.

Q: Which of the Golden Girls do you identify with most?
A: Betty White’s character, Rose.

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How to Replace Your Thermostat

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SAN JOSE — Whether your current thermostat is broken or you’re just ready to upgrade to a programmable model, replacing a thermostat is a cost-effective way to improve your home energy efficiency. Fortunately, thermostat replacement is something you can easily… Read more

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Video: Installing a New Thermostat

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: In caring for your home’s HVAC system, its important to know how to install a new thermostat. Today, we’re… Read more

Jake Newman Jr. is HVAC Service Manager of Burkell Plumbing, Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 690-7905 or by email.

Jake Newman Jr.

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Jake Newman Jr.: The Next Generation

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAUSALITO — As a second-generation participant in his family’s plumbing and heating business, Jake Newman Jr. was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. “My dad has been with Burkell Plumbing for almost 40 years and became the owner when I was in my early 20s,” he explains. “I’d started helping out with the business a couple of years prior, doing things like cleaning the shop, delivering parts and helping with paperwork in the office. When I turned 21, I enrolled in an HVAC certification program at Specialty A/C Institute in Benicia, where, in addition to classroom education, I received hands-on training in their warehouse. After graduating, I returned to Burkell Plumbing, and I’ve spent the last few years managing the HVAC side of the business.”

Today, Jake says his favorite part about being an HVAC service manager is helping people in his community by keeping them comfortable in their homes. “I also like being out and about every day. No two days are the same, which keeps things interesting.”

A resident of Marin County, Jake expresses his appreciation for the area’s aesthetically pleasing character. “Besides having a lot of great people, Marin County has some of the most beautiful scenery around. Between Mt. Tam overlooking us and the ocean surrounding us, it’s a very picturesque setting.”

Outside of work, Jake partakes in a variety of pastimes that vary from season to season. “In summer, I like being outdoors, whether hiking on Mt. Tam or going to the beach or a local lake for some fun in the sun,” he details. “In winter, I like going to Reno or Tahoe to see the snow, or just staying in and relaxing by the fire.”

In regard to his professional career, Jake believes good leadership requires a subtle balance. “I follow in my dad’s footsteps a lot—not just in how he lives his life but how he runs his company. He has created a work environment that’s fun and laid-back, but at the same time we’re very serious about maintaining a high standard of quality work and service. I think our employees respond well to that balance. It enables them to enjoy their jobs but also keeps them focused on doing their best. When a business’ staff is both happy in their work and devoted to a high standard of quality, that’s a recipe for success.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jake says he’d head to a tropical locale. “First, I’d sleep in. Then I’d probably take a vacation to someplace hot, sandy and happening. Miami, Bali, Mexico, the Bahamas…any of those would work just fine.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What are your favorite sports teams?
A: The Golden State Warriors, the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.

Q: What kinds of music do you like?
A: Hip-hop, R&B, and even a little country and alternative—I like it all.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: I’m a little of each. Usually, I can’t go to sleep before 11pm, but I have a natural body clock that wakes me up before 7am.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Corn dogs, pizza bites, egg rolls—anything I can eat without silverware.

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How to Troubleshoot Your Thermostat

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SAUSALITO — If your thermostat stops working, there are a couple of things you should check before calling a professional. The first is simple: make sure it has batteries. Locate the battery compartment either by taking the thermostat off the wall or… Read more

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Video: Troubleshooting Your Thermostat

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SAUSALITO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If your thermostat stops working, there’s one way to tell whether it’s an easy fix or a more in-depth problem. Today we’re in… Read more

Gil Medrano Jr. is a 30-year veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 200-1319 or by email.

Gil Medrano Jr.

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Gil Medrano Jr.: All-Weather Man

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

VACAVILLE — When Gil Medrano Jr.’s first job out of high school didn’t pan out, he didn’t realize it would free him up for a much bigger opportunity. “I had just quit my landscaping job because the business owner couldn’t pay us,” he remembers. “That very same day, I was telling my friend about what happened and he asked me if I was interested in working with him in the HVAC field. I took him up on the offer, and after doing it for a while, I decided I liked the trade and was going to stick with it.”

It was a long road to reach his desired professional destination, but Gil says it was the best route he could’ve taken. “I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and I considered going for it a couple of times early in my career. However, in hindsight, I can see that I wasn’t ready. Later, I went back to school and got my bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering, which advanced me in the field and equipped me with a lot of valuable knowledge.” In 2000, Gil obtained his contractor’s license and soon thereafter achieved his dream of business ownership.

Today, as owner of All Weather Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Gil says that while most of his time is spent in the office, he still prefers working in the field. “These days, I spend more time working on the business than for the business, but when things get really busy, I get to go out and do hands-on work. I still enjoy diagnosing and repairing HVAC problems, but what I like most of all is meeting and interacting with our customers.”

A resident of Vacaville (where he lives with his wife and business partner, Caroline), Gil expresses his fond feeling toward his long-time locale. “I was born in Hayward but I moved to Vacaville when I was a boy, so I consider it my hometown,” he says. “We raised our five kids here, and now we have grandkids, so you might say we’ve established some pretty hardy roots.”

Outside of work, Gil spends the bulk of his free time engaged in outdoor activities. “Our kids and their families are all local, so we like doing family camping trips and going boating at Lake Berryessa and Lake Shasta,” he says. “I also do some off-road racing with my modified Volkswagen Beetle. In addition to racing locally, this will be the third year I’ve competed in the Baja 1000.”

In regard to his professional career, Gil says being a business owner is a 24/7 gig. “I think some people get the impression that running a business is easy, but it’s anything but. There’s really no time off, so you have to be willing to put in the time, even when you don’t want to. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work and a serious commitment.”

Not surprisingly, when asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Gil says he’d take a vacation. “Even when I’m on vacation, I still have to deal with work in one way or another, so if I were to retire tomorrow, I’d take a long, relaxing trip with no phone calls. I have a good friend in North Carolina who I haven’t seen in a long time, so I might go hang out with him for a while.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The Oakland Raiders.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Rock and roll.

Q: What’s the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
A: Escargot. We were on a cruise and they brought some out, so I decided to try it. It was pretty good.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Over easy.

Q: Do you have a favorite movie?
A: I’m a huge fan of the “Star Wars” movies.

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The Importance of Properly Sized Ductwork

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VACAVILLE — When replacing your home’s heating and cooling unit, it’s critical to also address your duct system. Ductwork is responsible for distributing air throughout the home, which is a function that directly impacts the central unit’s performance. By addressing your ductwork… Read more

Two Key Aspects of HVAC System Maintenance

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VACAVILLE — When it comes to your home’s heating and cooling system, regular maintenance is crucial to ensure longevity and efficient performance. In particular, there are two key aspects of maintenance that every homeowner should address: 1. Change your furnace… Read more

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Video: Importance of Properly Sized Ductwork

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VACAVILLE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to install a new HVAC system, don’t overlook the importance of properly sized ductwork. Today we’re in Vacaville with Diamond… Read more

Al Morando is vice president of Innovative Mechanical, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2004. He can be reached at (650) 583-8222 or email.

Al Morando

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Al Morando: Brotherly Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — When asked how he became involved in the HVAC industry, Al Morando cites the influence of an older sibling. “My brother, Ken, started Innovative Mechanical in 1984,” he says. “About a decade later, I was taking a lot of marketing and communications classes in college, and Ken was looking to start a new marketing program with his business that would target the residential demographic. Because of my interest in marketing, he brought me on to help run the program, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Today, as vice president of Innovative Mechanical, Al says his favorite part of his job is interacting with customers. “I like the fact that I get to meet new people every day. I also enjoy the process of finding out what a customer’s needs are and directing them toward solutions that will satisfy those needs.”

A longtime resident of Millbrae (where he lives with his wife, Eleonora, and son, Giovanni), Al appreciates living and working close to home. “I come from a pretty big family, and most of them are here in the Bay Area,” he says. “We get together fairly often for holidays and birthdays. On the 4th of July, we have a barbeque with about 50 people in attendance, so that’s always fun.” When he’s not spending time with family, Al enjoys activities like playing golf and attending local professional sporting events.

In his life and career, Al espouses the importance of treating others with respect. “If a professional comes into my home, I would hope they’d treat me respectfully and look out for my best interests,” he says. “At Innovative Mechanical, that’s exactly the approach we take to serving our customers.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Al says he’d continue to stay connected with the family business. “Even after I retire, I’ll probably still come in and help out every once in a while, just to keep myself busy. Of course, I’ll also relax a little more and play a lot more golf.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Green tea.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Summer—the weather is nice, so there are lots of opportunities to get outside and do things with my family.

Q: What country would you most like to visit?
A: Italy. I have family over there, and I enjoy visiting and reconnecting with my relatives.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Ristorante Rocca in Burlingame.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: I like sports movies like Rocky and Hoosiers.

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Differentiating Furnace Filter Efficiencies

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Many consumers assume all furnace filters are basically the same, but there’s actually a wide variety of grades and styles to choose from. One of the major ways in which filters differ is in regard to… Read more

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Video: Filters and Efficiencies

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan:  When it comes to improving the energy efficiency in your home, one importance aspect is furnace filter efficiency.… Read more

Juan Sandoval is a veteran of the HVAC industry and president of Carol Flynn, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (650) 530-0965 or by email.

Juan Sandoval

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Juan Sandoval: True Potential

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN MATEO — While he’s found success as the owner of a Bay Area HVAC company, Juan Sandoval may never have reached his true potential if it wasn’t for an insistent employer who pushed him beyond his comfort zone. “I started in this industry back in 1987,” he says. “I had applied for a job as an air duct cleaning technician with a local service company, but the owner wanted to put me in sales. I didn’t feel that I was salesman material, but he insisted, so I decided to give it a shot. As it turned out, I actually did very well at it.” A couple of years later, Juan went to work for another company called Carol Flynn, Inc., where he gradually worked his way up the ladder until he reached the uppermost rung.

Today, as president of Carol Flynn, Juan says his favorite part of his job is the simple satisfaction of improving people’s day-to-day lives. “I enjoy meeting new customers and helping them increase their comfort by providing heating and air conditioning systems that meet their needs.”

Born in Mexico, Juan was brought to the United States at the age of three and grew up in Redwood City. Today, as a resident of Antioch, he expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Bay Area. “I like the diversity we have here, with so many different nationalities in one place,” he affirms. “Also, the weather is great, and there are a lot of good opportunities for aspiring professionals.”

Outside of work, Juan devotes most of his time to being with his family, which consists of his wife, Catalina, their four children and two grandchildren. “I really enjoy my family,” he says. “We have a pool in our backyard, so during the summer our kids and grandkids come over a lot for swimming and barbequing.” Juan has even found a way to turn his favorite hobby of golf into a family activity. “My kids, my wife and I all play golf, so we regularly go out to the course and play together.”

In his life and career, Juan espouses the wisdom of a motto passed down by his grandfather. “My grandfather used to tell me, ‘If you help people get what they need, you’ll always have what you need,’” he recalls. “Over the years, I’ve found that this holds true. More often than not, if you do right by others and project positivity, you’re going to get positivity in return.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Juan says he’d tee off for an extended holiday. “I would probably start by playing a round of golf. Then, I’d go on vacation in Cabo San Lucas and just relax.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Christmas—I like the lights, cheerful atmosphere and family time.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My children.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Mr. Teriyaki in Burlingame.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “America’s Got Talent.”

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The Other Reason to Change Your Furnace Filter

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SAN MATEO — When people talk about the importance of changing furnace filters, the conversation usually revolves around air quality. Obviously this is a concern, as 85 percent of the air you breathe inside your home is first circulated through your HVAC… Read more

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Video: Replacing Your Air Filter

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SAN MATEO — Host, Sarah Rutan: In order to maximize both furnace performance and indoor air quality, it’s important to change your air filter on a regular basis.… Read more

Jon Diamond is a veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of Moore Solar / Heating / Cooling, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 239-7163 or by email.

Jon Diamond

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Jon Diamond: A Brilliant Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA – When Jon Diamond was introduced to the HVAC field by a family member, he had no idea how far it would take him. “I got into the trade through my cousin, who was a union sheet metal worker,” he remembers. “After about a year with the union, I got into residential HVAC retrofitting, where I was lucky enough to get trained on design and estimating. Eventually, I partnered with Curtis Moore and we founded our own company, which continues to specialize in HVAC retrofitting.”

Today, as owner of Moore Solar / Heating / Cooling, Jon says his favorite part of his job is providing opportunities for his employees. “A lot of our employees are at a point where they’re starting families, so I love the fact that we’re able to provide them with careers that have opportunities for advancement. We have something we call the ‘sweet spot,’ which is when we’re able to match an employee with a position that utilizes their natural disposition and talents. When we’re able to get someone to a place where they’re enthusiastic about their job, that’s when the magic happens.”

A resident of Petaluma (where he lives with his wife, Gen, and the younger two of their four children), Jon likes to spend his time outside of work on active pastimes like golf and fishing. “My business partner, Curtis, is a big steelhead fisherman, so I always enjoy joining him for that,” he says. “Also, I’ve recently been on a health kick, so I’ve been hiking a whole bunch, which I really love.” Jon also enjoys spending time with his family, including his two adult sons, 17-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Jon espouses the importance of three words: character, honor and integrity. “Those three words are the foundation of our business,” he affirms. “We believe that if we incorporate those three things on every job and in every decision, the financial aspect will take care of itself. I think a lot of businesses make the fundamental error of basing every decision on getting profits as high as possible. That’s not us—we’re more concerned with creating a healthy, balanced culture that ensures our customers have good experiences and gives our employees the opportunity to have fulfilling careers.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jon says he’d take some time to recoup from the rigors of running a business. “I would probably do nothing for a couple of months—just spend more time with my family and relax. After that, who knows?”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Mad Men.”

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’d actually like to see all of Europe—maybe travel backpacking style and just spend a month hiking from country to country.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played golf.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: An old, wooden box truck my grandfather gave me. I still have it!

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Optimizing Air Conditioner Performance

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SANTA ROSA — Staying cool during summer can be a challenge, especially if your air conditioner isn’t working efficiently. Here are a few tips for optimizing your air conditioner’s performance during the warmer months: 1. Change your air filter. Replacing your air… Read more

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Video: Optimizing Air Conditioner Performance

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SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: As the summer season brings warmer temperatures, you’ll want to make sure your home’s air conditioner is running at peak performance. To… Read more

Ricardo Valderrama is a veteran of the HVAC industry and owner of Bayhill Heat & Air, a Diamond Certified company since 2010. He can be reached at (650) 469-3972 or by email.

Ricardo Valderrama

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ricardo Valderrama: Imported Expertise

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN MATEO — Ricardo Valderrama was raised in the heating and cooling industry, so it didn’t take long for him to take up his family’s trade—an enterprise he began in his native country of Peru before fully realizing it in the United States. “Growing up, my family had a commercial heating and air conditioning business, so I decided to follow that path and went to university to study industrial engineering,” he remembers. “During that time, my grandmother brought me with her on vacation to San Francisco, and I quickly fell in love with the city.” Upon completing his university term in Peru, Ricardo returned to the U.S. to attend trade school before going to work for a San Francisco HVAC contractor. Five years later, he struck out on his own and founded Bayhill Heat & Air.

More than 30 years later, Ricardo says his favorite part of his job is the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people. “I enjoy meeting and, in many cases, becoming friends with people from all different backgrounds. Living and working in the Bay Area, I’ve probably met someone from every country, which has been very rewarding and given me a more comprehensive perspective of the world.”

Outside of work, Ricardo engages in a variety of pastimes, from gardening at his San Mateo home to savoring the fruits of the Wine Country. “I enjoy going to the Napa Valley with friends and family to enjoy good wine and the beautiful countryside,” he says. Additionally, since he has family spread across the Western United States, Ricardo does a fair amount of traveling to visit his children and grandchildren. “I have a son in Texas, two daughters in Utah and one daughter here in San Mateo. I actually just got back from Austin, where I attended my grandson’s third birthday party.”

In his professional career, Ricardo espouses the importance of providing value for his clients. “My primary goal is to give my clients the most for their money,” he affirms. “With every installation, rather than trying to sell the most expensive equipment, I help the customer choose a system that best fits their needs. Basically, it comes down to being honest and giving them a product that will provide a good long-term investment.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Ricardo says he’d go on an Alaskan cruise. “That’s one of the top things on my bucket list. Other than that, I’d just spend more time doing the things I currently enjoy, like winetasting, gardening, and visiting with friends and family.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: The future, just to see what it’s going to be like. I already know about the old stuff; I want to know what’s coming.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
A: I love Asian cuisine, particularly Japanese fresh leaf sushi.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being a funny guy. Not a class clown, just generally funny and able to make light of things.

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Getting Your Air Conditioner Ready for Summer

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SAN MATEO — As we head into summer, it’s a good time to check your air conditioning equipment and make sure it’s running as cleanly and efficiently as possible. Start by checking your air filter; if it’s dirty, replace it before you… Read more

The Next Generation of Smoke and CO Detectors

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SAN MATEO — On July 1, 2015, a new law will go into effect that aims to phase out conventional, battery-operated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in favor of new, one-use-only models. Equipped with tamper-proof 10-year batteries, the new alarms… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Annual Air Conditioning Maintenance

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SAN MATEO — Host, Sarah Rutan: As the warm summer weather sets in, it’s time to get your air conditioner primed for optimum performance. Today we’re in San… Read more

Mike Rebholtz is general manager of Alternative Heating & Air Conditioning Solutions, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2012. He can be reached at (650) 539-9722 or by email.

Mike Rebholtz

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Mike Rebholtz: A Refreshed Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

MENLO PARK — Following a year spent living abroad, Mike Rebholtz returned home and started working in a trade that would furnish him with a lifelong career. “I had a buddy whose family lived in Aviano, Italy, right at the foot of the Alps,” he explains. “After I graduated high school, I sold everything I had and went to live there and ski, which lasted a year. After I got back, I needed a real job, so I joined the trade union and started working in HVAC.” As a mechanically inclined individual, Mike says he quickly took to the trade. “I’ve always been good with my hands and liked building things, so working with sheet metal and manufacturing ductwork was something I enjoyed right off the bat.”

In 1985, Mike founded Rebholtz Mechanical, which functioned as a unionized HVAC contracting firm for more than 20 years before closing its doors amid the economic downturn of 2008. In 2011, Mike re-emerged on the professional scene with Alternative Heating & Air Conditioning Solutions, Inc. As his first non-union business venture, Mike says he’s enjoyed the refreshing change of pace. “We’re able to do a lot of things we couldn’t under union constraints, like bring in plumbers and electricians, which allows us to provide our customers with more options. It’s been really fun to get a fresh start after so many years in the industry.”

Originally from the Sacramento region, Mike resides today in Red Bluff Shores with his wife, Julie. When asked his favorite part of living and working in the Bay Area, he says he appreciates the diversity of the population. “I originally planned to move up to Oregon and live in the country, but I’ve grown to like the diversity we have here. Overall, I find that consumers in the Bay Area tend to be very educated and open-minded.”

Outside of work, Mike engages in a wide variety of active pastimes. “I can’t get enough of the outdoors, whether it’s riding my motorcycle, fishing or backpacking in the Sierras,” he says. As a licensed pilot, Mike says he and his wife also enjoy flying to nearby destinations for weekend trips. Additionally, he likes spending time with his three children, Courtney, Shane and Shelby, all of whom are currently attending college.

In regard to his professional career, Mike espouses the importance of doing the right thing. “The main things are to be fair and honest, see things from each customer’s perspective, and give them what they want,” he says. “If a customer wants something that’s not in the contract, I’ll usually tell my guys to include it anyway, because I’m less concerned about who’s right than I am about making sure my customers are happy.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Mike says he’d head out on a long trip. “I’d probably take Julie and the kids and shoot up to Alaska for a few weeks, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. Ideally, I’d like to fly there and stop in Oregon and Washington along the way to visit friends and family.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Would you ever go sky diving?
A: Yes, that’s actually on my bucket list.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: The Mountain House Restaurant in Woodside.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Read a book.

Q: What kind of books do you like to read?
A: I like everything from mystery novels to self-improvement books. As a pilot, I’m also fascinated by World War II stories, so I love any book that has to do with that era.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Over easy.

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The Benefits of Air Duct Replacement

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MENLO PARK — If you’re planning to replace your furnace, there’s a chance you may need to replace your air ducts as well. Due to a recent Title 24 mandate, Bay Area residents planning for furnace replacements are now required… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Advancements in Heat Pump Technology

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MENLO PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about switching to solar power in your home, you should also consider installing a heat pump for your HVAC… Read more

Charlie Nelson is owner of Next Level Heating & Air Conditioning Inc, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 801-4067 or by email.

Charlie Nelson

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Charlie Nelson: Taking Things to the Next Level

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA ROSA — Following a string of underwhelming occupational experiences, Charlie Nelson had begun to grow disillusioned about his professional future. Fortunately, after being hired as a sales representative for an HVAC service company, he found an opportunity to take things to the next level. “While visiting a jobsite, I would sometimes sit and watch the guys install the equipment,” he recounts. “After a while, I thought to myself, ‘I could do this,’ so I asked the company owner to train me to be an installer. After doing installations for a couple of years, he sent me to school to become a service technician. From there, the obvious next step was to branch off and start my own company, and that’s how Next Level Heating & Air Conditioning Inc was born.”

Today, Charlie says his favorite part of his job is pleasing his customers. “I enjoy seeing the smile on a customer’s face when the job is complete, whether it’s a simple repair or a large installation. When someone has been through a cold winter’s night without their heater, they really appreciate it when you warm things up for them again, and that makes me feel good.”

A lifetime resident of the North Bay, Charlie resides in Santa Rosa with his wife, Sarah, and their five children. “I enjoy the down-to-earth character of the people here,” he says. “Pretty much everywhere you go, you can say, ‘Hi’ to a complete stranger, and they’ll say, ‘Hi’ back. I also love the mild climate…even though it’s not really ideal for my business,” he laughs.

Outside of work, Charlie keeps busy with a variety of family activities. “My kids all play baseball, and I coach their little league teams,” he says. “It takes up a lot of my time, but there’s no greater joy than seeing my kids progress and gain more confidence with each passing season.” In addition to team sports, Charlie and his kids enjoy building and playing with remote-controlled hobby cars, as well as outdoor activities like hiking, bicycling and camping.

In regard to his professional career, Charlie espouses the importance of putting his customers first. “The customer is at the core of everything I do,” he affirms. “When I walk through someone’s door, I consider it my job to not only provide a high-quality service, but to become friends with that person as well. It all comes down to the customer’s best interest, and I think that’s reflected by the repeat business I receive.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Charlie says he’d take his family on a big vacation. “We’ve always wanted to go to Europe, so we’d probably go over there for a few weeks and do some sightseeing.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: I have two: The San Francisco Giants and the New York Giants.

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?
A: I played baseball.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Million Dollar Listing.”

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: I’d probably go to the past and start doing heating and air conditioning a lot sooner, just because it took me a while to find my professional niche.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Biscuits and gravy.

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The Importance of Air Duct Cleaning

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SANTA ROSA — When it comes to improving indoor air quality, a lot of people think simply changing their air filters or upgrading to a high-efficiency filter will do the trick. In reality, you have to remove dirt before you can keep… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: The Importance of Duct Cleaning

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SANTA ROSA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, one maintenance aspect you shouldn’t ignore is having your air ducts professionally… Read more

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