Rick Lazzarini: A Joint Venture
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
REDWOOD CITY — When asked how he became the owner of an HVAC company, Rick Lazzarini says it was a joint venture. “I started Degree HVAC in 2005 with my business partner, Trini Gudino. We originally met in trade school, where we spent five years training to be union pipefitters. One day, I told him I was thinking about starting my own business, to which he replied, ‘Really? So am I.’ One thing led to another and we decided to partner up to achieve our mutual goal. We started out in my garage; today, we’re in an 8,500-square-foot building.”
As co-owner of Degree HVAC, Inc., Rick says his favorite part of his job is improving his customers’ quality of life. “Most people don’t realize the difference a new, energy-efficient HVAC system can make in their energy bills and level of comfort. It’s very satisfying to upgrade a customer from old, inefficient equipment to a new system that’s going to make them happy for the next 20 to 30 years.”
A resident of Redwood City (where he lives with his wife, Christina, and their children), Rick expresses his appreciation for the temperature and temperament of his Bay Area locale. “The weather is always good, the people are nice and the atmosphere is pretty laid back. It’s California living, so we’re pretty fortunate to be here.”
Outside of work, Rick engages in a variety of active pastimes. “I have a Harley-Davidson, so I like to get out and ride whenever I can,” he says. “I go up to the Russian River a lot, both on my bike and with my family. I also like reading and having family get-togethers—I have a lot of family in the area, so we’re always celebrating birthdays and holidays.”
In his life and career, Rick espouses the wisdom of the Golden Rule. “My philosophy is, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’” he affirms. “In terms of my business, that means being sensitive to my customers’ budgets and never selling them something they don’t need. Not everyone can afford a new furnace in the dead of winter—which is when they usually break down—so we do what we can to provide affordable solutions to their problems.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Rick says he’d hit the road. “We live in a great country and I’d like to see more of it, so I’d probably take a long road trip around the United States. South Dakota, New Orleans, the Great Lakes…I have a pretty long list!”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s one book that has been particularly influential for you?
A: The Bible.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Redwood Grill in Redwood City.
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My Red Ryder BB gun.
Q: Music or talk radio?
Q: What kinds of music do you like?
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A: All kinds, from jazz to country to rock ’n’ roll.