By: Brian Schutt
Whether you’re a diehard Butler, Notre Dame, or (cough, cough) IU fan, we think you’ll still appreciate the fact that two locals used their degrees from Purdue University to make their business dreams come true. Below’s our story, originally published in the Boiler Business Exchange of Indianapolis. And just so you know, we proudly serve alumni from any institution.

Two Boilers in heating and cooling sounds too cliché to be a reality.

It gets a bit more interesting if you know neither of us are engineers, have never fixed a furnace, and started the company with $1,000. And while our company {probably} won’t end up on the cover of Inc. Magazine or get used as a case study at the Krannert School of Management, we have grown over 1000% since our first full year of operation in 2010.

Ours is a story of belief and trust.

What we believed, as homeowners, was that there had to be a better way to do residential heating and cooling. What we trusted was each other—from a friendship formed as fraternity presidents of Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Kappa Psi and continued on while attending the same church after graduation.

Like many entrepreneurial journeys, ours started with a first step. To quote contemporary philosopher Vanilla Ice, “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it….” The problem we sought to solve was the fact that no one we knew trusted their heating and cooling company. My business partner, Jesse Cross, had a few rental properties he managed and became a go-to for home repairs. Over and over, HVAC was a huge issue few had dealt with, and no one enjoyed tackling.

After a few dozen phone calls over a few years, the opportunity became apparent to him. And following a few conversations between the two of us, I agreed with the opportunity. The next step was the perilous one. How do two 20-somethings with a background in finance and marketing, respectively, jump into a highly technical trade with high barriers to entry?

That’s where trust comes in.

We didn’t know how we would answer all the questions or how we would do it. We just trusted that if we worked together and stayed committed to our principles we would figure it out along the way.

At the outset, our principles were simple: operate with integrity—no matter what—and customers will come back and tell their friends. We’ve elaborated on that over the years (see the Heart of Homesense Heating & Cooling), but the core has remained constant.

What I don’t want to do is paint any rosy picture. Anyone who’s built a business knows that the perfectly sunny pathway to success doesn’t exist, and anyone aspiring to start one should know the lack of glamour involved.

While I don’t yet consider Homesense Heating & Cooling to have reached our goals, I believe we’re on the pathway toward them. Here are three takeaways from our six-year journey that I think have led to our growth:

  1. We don’t know it all.
    Tennis star Rafael Nadal’s coach summarized his coaching style in the phrase, “stay hungry, stay humble.” Since day one, we’ve been humbled by how little we, as owners, know about the technical side of our industry. That humility has led to a greater appreciation for our team members, important questions being asked that have shaped our unique process, and a desire to learn from companies that have qualities we want to emulate.
  2. Walk through walls.
    Whether it’s perseverance or stupidity (it might just depend on the day), but, when starting something that doesn’t exist, you’re going to be faced with a unique challenge every day. We just made the choice that forward was the only direction. We’ve encountered plenty of walls too high to see on the other side. Some of those walls we’ve gracefully leapt over like Edwin Moses and many more we’ve plundered through like the Kool-Aid man. (For those under 30, you might have to Google those references)
  3. When in doubt, pick up a phone.
    I’ve not yet heard of a business without people involved, and as a result, inevitable differences exist. We are imperfect, but have resolved challenges internally and externally through a belief in communication. Whether to better-set expectations or directly resolve an issue, nothing bridges a gap like a direct conversation. In our age of text messages and email, picking up a phone or sitting down face to face have become an overlooked method in ensuring better outcomes.
Brady Wilson
Brady Wilson

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