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News Community Venture Local warms up for fall season

Bob McMahan, owner of Corbin and McMahan, started the business 35 years ago.Heating and cooling businesses embrace technology.

The first day of Fall rolled into Macon County on Sunday, and with it came cooler weather. The change of the seasons is the perfect time for home owners to begin the transition from home units keeping the summer days cool to the products needed to warm you up until Spring. Macon County is home to several heating and cooling businesses, some new and some old, but all geared toward servicing the people in the community.

Michael Melton set out in the Spring of 2011 to fill what he considered to be a void in the heating and cooling business. “Knowing that finding the right HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) company for someone buying, building or remodeling homes, or having routine maintenance done in Western North Carolina can be a daunting task is why I founded Melton Brothers Services Inc,” said Melton. “I wanted to provide this end of the state a full residential and commercial, licensed HVAC sales, maintenance and installation company.”

Melton,  who has more than 15 years of experience, works to offer insight and practical knowledge which will allow customers to obtain a quality HVAC system, have it installed in a manner that exceeds the required code and provide his customers with any service on that system that they might require in the future.

According to Melton, Melton Brothers Services, Inc. is Western North Carolina’s premium retailer for such quality HVAC systems as YORK, Mitsubishi and Toyo. “We are highly recommended and are exceptional in our service after the sale,” said Melton. “At Melton Brothers Services we get the job done right, on time and at a reasonable cost.”

Melton Brothers Services Inc., located on the Highlands Road, has been in operation since 2011.Melton Brothers Services Inc. provides Preventive Maintenance Contracts. This contract covers a wide spectrum of services that take place with customer's equipment. This service keeps HVAC systems running at peak performance levels at the lowest cost. “It also keeps those costly repairs to a minimum,” said Melton. “You would not let your car go years without service, why would you let that expensive heating and cooling system do that. Our energy saving In Home Consultation allows our customers see just how they can save on their energy bills. This service is a type of home inspection that keeps our customers educated on not only how we can help lower their cost but on what things they can do themselves. Our customers also enjoy the fact that we have the best and most efficient equipment in the world available to them at reasonable prices. And the fact that York is still made in the USA Is one thing but the fact that the company is one of the few still owned and operated here says it all.”

Melton started his business with a few basic tools, a truck and about $126. Melton's vision at the time was to make a living while the markets were down and push through until the economy recovered. That vision changed almost immediately when the scope of what he had created started coming to light.

In a time when a lot of businesses were struggling to keep their doors open, Melton found a niche that allowed him to grow. After almost a year of working alone, Melton found the need for help both in labor form and very soon management due to the volume of business and new clients. “I would not have dreamed a successful endeavor could come out of such a hard time such as this. If this is how well we can do by starting during a recession then I can’t wait to see how we grow as we pull out of it,” said Melton.

Melton is continuously working to stay ahead of the curve and to better the services he provides. “We have a couple of good quality competitors in this area,” said Melton. “That means we have to make sure the market knows we have what it takes to complete their projects with the best quality available with the best equipment and the most knowledge. Keeping it service and customer oriented helps tremendously.”

In addition to monitoring the trends of the market, Melton ensures that his six-person staff keep up with the changes in the industry as well as educate his customers on the business. “We are constantly training and keeping our technicians on top of all the latest energy saving technology, codes and service techniques,” said Melton. “By educating the public on the old myths and tales that have been used for years by 'technicians' in this area we are able to cut our customers' annual repair costs and allow them to think of other things besides 'when will my freon need to be topped off.'  If you are buying Freon every year, You have a leak. It doesn’t 'settle out,' it doesn’t 'evaporate,' it doesn’t 'just disappear.' We have what it takes to find those stubborn leaks and make them a thing of the past.”

The expansion of his staff has allowed Melton Brothers Services to best serve the region. “With six people in the field now Melton Brothers Services Inc. has been able to get faster response times to emergency situations, high quality new system installation and keep our Preventive Maintenance Service contracts at the peak of the industry,” said Melton. “We strive to be the best.”

Bruce and Laurie Auld first opened Andrews Auld Heating and Cooling 14 years ago. Photo by Betsey GooderIn the future, Melton plans to continue expanding his business to best serve his community. “The future for Melton Brothers Services is growing brighter and brighter,” said Melton. “With goals for new locations to better serve WNC, we feel if we continue to maintain the highest integrity and keep our prices fair the rest of Western North Carolina will be able to enjoy the same great service that Franklin, Highlands, Cashiers and Sylva is growing accustomed to now.”

As a locally grown business, Melton has seen first hand the importance of venturing local. “We at Melton Brothers Services believe in our community for its strengths, its ability to pull together in adversity and neighborly aspects you don’t find in the big city,” he said. “That’s why we believe it’s best to shop our local markets and small businesses. Without that local support ours and many of our neighbors businesses would not exist.”

“I would like to take a moment to thank all of our wonderful customers and friends. I have had the pleasure to get to know many of our neighbors in Jackson, Macon, Swain and Haywood counties,” said Melton. “It has been a true blessing to me to find these people respect the ideas and goals of this company and are so very supportive by telling their neighbors, friends, coworkers, and Church members about my business and how we treat each of our brothers and sisters fairly and with respect as we make their HVAC problems a distant memory. For that and many offers of a cool drink of water or better lighting to see by and Miss Castleman’s plate of brownies, I thank you from the bottom of this humble country boy's heart, and look forward to many years of service and many great stories being shared by my friends here in WNC.”

Starting with just two employees 14 years ago, Andrews Auld Heating and Cooling has grown to employ 25 individuals dedicated to “serving our community with a passion for total home comfort with excellence, commitment, and dependability.”

Owned by Bruce and Laurie Auld, Andrews Auld provides service for Macon, Jackson and parts of Transylvania and Swain counties. “We currently offer several different Planned Maintenance options, demand service for repairs, retail sales for additions to systems, change out of systems and sales and design for new construction installations as well as duct testing and sealing of existing ductwork,” said Laurie Auld.

Like so many other businesses, Andrews Auld saw a dip in customer traffic during the recession, but worked to implement innovative marketing strategies to continue providing services to the community. “During the recession we saw a slight change from service repairs rather than replacement of systems,” said Auld. “The trend has changed over the last few years to where our customers are looking to upgrade equipment to higher efficiency systems.”

One tool Andrews Auld has relied on to stay ahead of the learning curve is the implementation of technology. “We have invested in mobile technology as well as internet and smart phone access for service scheduling and pricing,” said Auld. “We have added certifications in Geothermal HVAC systems as well as ductwork pressure testing.  We have placed a great deal of importance on internet information, social media and web hosting. We find that today’s customers are eager to be well informed and we seek to make that easy for them.”

According to Auld, the business model has had to mold to new generations of clientele. “Business models and advancing technology have required us to be constantly adapting to meet demands,” she said. “While the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomer generation are still our primary market the younger generations are coming of age. With this change in our customer demographic, we are changing our focus somewhat. Technology advancement is playing a greater role in how people buy now.”

Auld hopes to steer the business down a path of energy upgrades in the future. “One of our goals is to focus more effort on providing opportunities for our Planned Maintenance customers for energy efficient upgrades, accessory additions to existing systems for better comfort, air purification, dehumidification and humidification and for remote access and control of their systems,” said Auld.

As a small business owner, Auld recognizes that the success of her business depends on local customers and the overall local economy depends on a commitment to shop local. “Shopping locally improves the economy where we live and work,” said Auld. “Almost all of our co-workers live and shop in Macon County. Their paychecks pass through the local economy improving life for all of us.”

Operating in Franklin and Macon County for 14 years, Andrews Auld has worked to not just be a business, but to be a part of the community. “We have partnered with Macon CareNet and Habitat for Humanity,” said Auld. “We have also partnered with Southwestern Community College as well as the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Solutions On the Job Training Program. We actively seek former military individuals re-entering the civilian workforce. Since our children have attended Macon County Schools, we have been very active in all phases of the county school system with our time, energy and money. We seek to employ the 'best and the brightest' students coming out of our local schools. We encourage and support higher education through the SCC HVAC program. We have been very blessed through these 14 years by the people in Macon County who have demonstrated good business practices as well as encouraging us by allowing us to serve them.”

Operating in Macon County for more than three decades, Corbin and McMahan was started in 1978 by Jim Corbin and Bob McMahan. The two men had worked together for many years at another local company with Corbin as a gutter and duct installer and McMahan as service manager.

The company was originally started to provide Macon and surrounding counties with quality installation of heating and air equipment and duct work as well as guttering. Around 1989, the team made the decision to drop guttering all together and do just one thing and do it well. In 1998, Corbin became sick and had to take a leave of absence. Later, his shares were purchased by  McMahan and the company today is run by McMahan and his sons, Gary and Tim, with a crew larger than they have ever had before.

Corbin and McMahan has been built on the premise of offering customers anything that involves air in a home. “Whether it's heating, cooling, humidifying, and dehumidifying, we do it all,” said McMahan. "We offer free estimates on new installs. We also have a very competitive services call rate.”

Despite a slow decline in business since the economy took a dive in 2006, Corbin and McMahan continues to provide services to the community. “It's been challenging the last few years; hopefully we have left it behind us,” said Tim McMahan. Business is getting more and more steady again. New construction has picked up a lot this year and our business has grown over the years.”

To stay competitive, Corbin and McMahan has expanded the type of products they offer to customers. “We have added a number of indoor air quality products,” said McMahan. “That has really helped to fill the gaps.”

With 14 employees depending on the business for their income, Corbin and McMahan understand the importance of supporting the local economy. “Our employees all grew up in the area,” he said. “We all still live here now and when we go shopping, it's right here in Franklin. Shopping local is what makes Western North Carolina  a great place to live.”

With 35 years under their belts, Corbin and McMahan has constantly changed their business model to accommodate the changes in the industry. “Since 1978, a lot has changed,” he said. “You learn in a hurry to go with the flow. “

“Our business wouldn't be where it is without the support of the great people of Macon County,” said McMahan. “With that, we say thanks for the opportunity you have given us.”


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