Recognition for a job well done

Engineered Systems magazine article photo

Congrats to the ACI Mechanical and HVAC team for their recognition as an Ambassador of Energy Efficiency. The award comes from engineers and contractors recognizing the contribution that our team has made. Recognition is my love language, just ask my wife Margaret!

We love helping building owners save energy, and our mission statement “Helping Building Thrive” says it in three words.

Selling products from stock works

Reznor unit heaters in Portland on our shelves

“You can’t sell from an empty wagon”, said Bob Nichols, the owner of Allied Refrigeration in Long Beach, CA told me when I was a young sales engineer at Johnson Controls. It was 1989 and I was blown away with this distributor’s high value, high service model. Bob passed in 2012, but his words stuck with me.

Part of the 40,000 square foot warehouse in Seattle

Thirty years later, as I get to make decisions with our leadership team about how to service customers, it is clear to me that being a hybrid manufactures rep and commercial HVAC distributor works. We increased our on-hand inventory over $1M as supply chain disruptions ran up the lead-times for products. It turned out to be a great idea to buffer longer lead-times with real on-hand products. We are selling more of nearly all of our products because we actually have it.

Thanks for the tip 33 years ago Bob!

#hvac #supplychain #customerservice

3 easy tips to solve HVAC air distribution problems

Cold office workers are everywhere!

We at ACI Mechanical solve cold office worker problems for our contractor and owners all the time. Here are 3 tips to make a difference for cold work spaces.

  1. Change the airflow patterns of diffusers and grilles

Many ceiling diffusers or grilles have the ability to be adjusted or closed down. Many designs have maximum airflow rates that are over designed for actual building usage. Facility engineers (or you with a ladder) can reduce the total airflow directed toward occupants. Change the diffuser from a fixed style to adjustable to have a choice.

Price Industries diffusers have adjustable controllers

2. Install VAV Diffusers to control local zones without extra wiring

We installed a 10″ neck Acutherm Thermafuser in a small conference room at ACI Mechanical in Seattle, changing the room from freezing cold to a perfect 72 degrees. It took a ladder, a new Panduit strap to connect the existing flex duct to the new diffuser, and an Thermafuser to solve the problem. It was a 10 minute installation, before picture shown:

A ladder and a simple diffuser replacement
This conference room is no longer cold!
Acutherm by Price Industries Thermafusers

3. Use Preheat strategies on thermostats and building controls for morning warm-up

We use our Verasys building control system by Johnson Controls to preheat the building at 5am, before the first worker arrives at 5:30am in Seattle. This gives the three rooftops the ability to “catch-up” from a weekend of unoccupied setpoints.

Verasys smart building hub connects to JCI equipment, smartphone image superimposed

Changing the way air flows in a building can make a difference for occupant comfort all year long. It is worth the time and effort!

AHR Las Vegas is a success

HVAC product exhibit halls were busy with people at the opening day Jan 31, 2022. It was great to connect with industry leaders and talk business.

Team ACI with our friend from Denver

Big manufacturers like Johnson Controls, Carrier, and Daikin had large booths with the latest equipment. They were packed with mask wearing engineers and contractors. We had no fewer than 20 different meetings with factory reps outside of the expo and in. No where else can I go and get that all done expect to AHR!

Plus it’s Vegas, so you get free Chihuly art!
Minus5 Bar with Rick and Anthony
Nice equipment stands look big in person!

#ahrexpo #hvac

Baby, it’s cold outside

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944 and popularized in the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter, says Wikipedia. Dean Martin made it great, and now John Legend makes it modern. I love this old school image below.

Dean Martin film image Courtesy of Genius.com

But that’s not the point, I am talking about staying warm inside with air distribution and how we make buildings feel great. We have Price Industries linear slot diffusers to separate cold windows from work spaces; smart, high performance heat pumps that far outperform electric heaters, like 3 to 1 better, and big fans that push warm air down from the ceiling in a large building. It is fascinating stuff, how a machine can effectively make you quietly comfortable. Take Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle for example:

Look closely for one of the three Big Ass Fans at Climate Pledge Arena
Zoomed in view of the PowerFoil fan that is 26 feet in diameter!

Heat rises, the air molecules are lighter than cold air because they are farther apart from each other. When you get the warm air circulating with cold air, life gets better for the occupant. Even though it’s cold outside we at ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales know how to use science to make people comfortable!

Why trade shows and trade meetings matter

I am always learning new things from others in the HVAC business. For example, at the SMACNA Annual Convention this week I learned a lot from Steve Taylor. He is probably one of the smartest engineers in our business. He balances practicality and energy savings with high building performance. Here is a slide from the conference where he aggregates the real causes of COVID transmission:

The words are smaller related to their actual transmission effectiveness, from Steve Taylor PE, Taylor Engineers

The summary: Vaccines work, and keep your distance if you can. Also, adding lots of outside air to a building really does not have any effect on transmission! This was a surprise to me, but his explanation of the science proved it.

My point of this blog is two fold,

1. If you don’t go, you don’t know. I was not expecting to learn what I did from Steve Taylor.

2. Relationships matter, we all know it, but going and talking with others in our commercial HVAC business helped all in attendance. Thanks SMACNA for an outstanding event.

Bob and Keith in their ACI Mechanical uniforms!

#smacna #hvac #taylorengineers #acimechanical

Positive review on growth in PNW, despite costs

Cle Elem river in Suncadia

Growth is happening at a quick rate in the Pacific Northwest. Natural beauty is all over the place. It costs more to live here, but people want to be around the mountains and water.

Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Boeing, and a host of others want to be where high quality employees can be found. We have seen high costs in construction, yet the work keeps coming.

Hermanson Commercial Construction Cost Index Q3 2021

Supply chain disruptions and steel prices contribute to the higher prices here, and expectations are the increase level off. My friend who leads a large retailer supply chain group says it might not get better until 2023!

At least I get to work through these problems in a beautiful place.

Mt Rainier from the road to Paradise

Supply chains and privately held companies in HVAC

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Who knew months ago that supply chains would be disrupted in HVAC the way we see today? It is not just HVAC. I ordered a replacement car last month for my leased car ending December 2021. The new car won’t arrive until December! Good timing.

Most of the factories we represent at ACI Mechanical and HVAC Sales are privately held, and had fewer product availability problems, than publicly held firms. In my opinion it is because private companies Like Loren Cook Co. and Price Industries are not afraid to have real inventory on hand. We stocked up on Gree Mini Splits and VRF last year, and it is paying off with customers buying our products, in part because we simply have the products on hand! We just sold out of all of our 50 foot line sets, just because we had them.

Gree Mini VRF In Stock
Gree and Kinghome on hand

We like to follow the old saying “You cannot sell from an empty wagon”.

Finally back to near normal-let’s celebrate!

Six months ago we gambled by setting a July date for ACI Open House events in Portland and Seattle. You know…the kind where we shake hands, talk about products and projects, and frankly just connect in person. It looks like the right decision!

Seattle opens up “fully” on June 30th. The city celebrated 70+% vaccination rates, the first US City to make it.

If you are in Seattle or Portland during the week of July 12-15th stop by and say hello!