Carrier, the world’s leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions, presented its annual Dealer Hall of Fame and President’s Awards at the 2014 Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer conference in Nashville, Tenn. Carrier is a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
The Dealer Hall of Fame Award is presented annually to select industry-leading contractors. Nominees must be Factory Authorized Dealers (FAD) and have a minimum of 20 years associated with Carrier as their primary brand. This year’s recipients are Tommy Estes of Estes Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. in Atlanta; Mario Taylor of Taylor Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Inc. in St. Augustine, Fla.; and the late James Lane of James Lane Air Conditioning & Plumbing Co. in Wichita Falls, Texas.
"The Carrier Dealer Hall of Fame was created to honor dealers who demonstrate enthusiasm, loyalty and courage in their work and who embody the same leadership philosophy as Willis Carrier, the founder of our company and the inventor of modern air conditioning," said Chris Nelson, president, residential and commercial systems, Carrier. "These three gentlemen have exemplified compassion and commitment to their employees, communities, customers and Carrier. It is our honor to present them with this recognition."
Although thousands of dealers across the country represent Carrier brand products, fewer than 1,500 qualify as FADs, with Estes, Taylor and Lane inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
Tommy Estes – Estes Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., Atlanta
Estes’ father, N.B. "Nap" Estes, founded the company in 1949, and it has been affiliated with Carrier ever since. When Tommy Estes joined the company full time in 1971, Estes Heating & Air Conditioning was already one of Atlanta’s leading heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) companies and Carrier dealerships. However, Estes had the foresight to recognize the changing competitive market, and he persuaded his father to allow him to manage a small residential department within the company. He introduced maintenance agreements to Atlanta long before they were popular, thus positioning the company for solid growth even through challenging economic times. He has since expanded the business into home-performance contracting, plumbing, electrical, commercial retrofit, service and replacement, and continues to be one of Carrier’s top FADs.
Over the years, Estes has donated to many charities, including United Way Worldwide, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Hudson Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Estes and his family also provide Christmas gifts for the children at the Carrie Steele-Pitts Home.
Estes Heating & Air Conditioning received the Carrier President’s Award in 2010 and 2011. In addition, Estes shared his innovative perspective and marketing savvy on the panel for the creation of Carrier Energy Experts. He has been committed to the Carrier brand since joining the company in 1971, continuing in his father’s footsteps. Estes has also received numerous awards, including National Contractor of the Year from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America and 2010 Residential Contractor of the Year from Contracting Business magazine. In addition, ACHR News named him Residential All-Star in 2005 and 2006 and Best Contractor to Work For in 2002.
Estes is proud to be transitioning the business ownership to the third generation; his son Brian will take over the helm of Estes Heating & Air Conditioning in the near future.
Mario Taylor – Taylor Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Inc., St. Augustine, Fla.
During World War II, Taylor was an engineer in the U.S. Navy, and it was there that he learned about the Carrier legacy. Carrier flew technicians to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to repair equipment on Navy destroyers, including one on which Taylor was stationed. He was so impressed that a company would make that kind of an effort to support its equipment that he decided he’d like to be associated with Carrier. When he returned home from the Navy in 1951, he opened his own Carrier dealership, Taylor Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, the original Carrier dealer in St. Johns County and one of the first in the entire state of Florida.
Today, Carrier and Taylor Refrigeration & Air Conditioning remain synonymous in St. Augustine. During his six decades as a Carrier dealer, Taylor has seen many changes in the HVAC industry. Taylor has fully embraced the brand and the values it stands for, leading by example in honesty, loyalty and integrity. He has been recognized many times by Carrier for excellence and performance, including receiving the Carrier President’s Award in 2007 and 2011.
Over the years, Taylor has given generously of his time and money to support several local and international charities, including Shriners Hospitals for Children, the St. Augustine Sunrise Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Fishing for Dreams (an annual fishing tournament to help ill children who like to fish) and Pie in the Sky (a local food bank). He helped to provide funding for the building and annual operating expenses for The Wildflower Clinic, a free clinic in St. Augustine. He donated all air conditioning labor and materials during the construction of the clinic and continues to provide maintenance and repairs as needed at no cost.
James Lane – James Lane Air Conditioning & Plumbing Co., Wichita Falls, Texas
Lane’s first training in air conditioning repair and maintenance was aboard a U.S. Navy ship. After completing his military service, he worked as an engineer for more than a decade and then started his own shop, working from home.
What began as a small family business in a garage in 1957 has grown into a large company with a crew of 70, occupying a 17,000-square-foot facility. From the beginning, James Lane involved his family in his business. His wife, Elizabeth, was involved in daily operations for 50 years, and his daughter, Deloris, has been part of the company since 1972 and currently serves as its president. In addition, Lane’s son Louis, who joined the company in 1977, and Louis’ son Leo, who joined in 1979, now serve as vice presidents.
Lane had a deep love for his Wichita Falls community and was very active in business leadership, civic groups and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wichita Falls. His dedication to the Boys & Girls Clubs went well beyond generous financial support; he spent time each week with the children and also took a personal interest in the organization’s day-to-day operations. Each year, the community looks forward to the James Lane Memorial Dinner and Auction, benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs.
In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, Carrier presented 128 active dealers with its President’s Award, an honor presented annually to Carrier dealers who exemplify the company’s model for operational excellence, business effectiveness and delivering the best in cutting-edge technology to consumers.
"The President’s Award is designed to encourage and recognize dealers who have continually focused on customer satisfaction," Nelson said. "This year’s winners provided superior customer satisfaction while delivering exceptional customer value and successfully representing the Carrier brand in their communities."
Founded by the inventor of modern air conditioning, Carrier is the world’s leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. Carrier experts provide sustainable solutions, integrating energy-efficient products, building controls and energy services for residential, commercial, retail, transport and food service customers. Carrier is a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.carrier.com or follow @CarrierGreen on Twitter.