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2018 Men of the Year: Richard Callahan

Air Services Heating & Cooling/All Service Professional Plumbing

Posted online

Richard Callahan is on a journey without end.

“Leadership is an area in which I am continuously learning,” says Callahan, general manager of Air Services Heating & Cooling and All Service Professional Plumbing.

In pursuing growth for his company, he restructured the management team to be servant leaders who teach, coach and learn from people in the field.

Callahan places great value on serving customers.

“I’ve taken a trade … and have made it about customer service,” he says. “Most companies focus on the opposite. They hire for skills in a certain trade but fail in the very crucial area of customer service in our industry.”

No detail is too small.

“This is something I train for regularly as we perform weekly role-play scenarios, even down to the cleanliness of our uniforms and looking customers in the eye. These are things I train for not just occasionally but always. For many who have expertise in a given trade, they may excel technically, but no one has taken the time to teach them excellence in customer service. That’s what we strive for.”

The company’s training is one avenue through which Callahan seeks to be an industry leader.

“We have built a professional training facility that is utilized by employees on a daily basis,” he says. “We have a large customer service call center, as well as hands-on mechanical/electrical training equipment. It isn’t good enough to train on old equipment. … Technology changes and creates a persistent need for retraining. Finally, we offer a large meeting room where our employees gather at least twice a week to role play and teach customer-service skills.”

Callahan finds satisfaction in offering a career to people willing to take advantage and apply themselves.

“I’m most proud to have developed a program which can take a person with no experience in our trade and teach them skills that they can use to support their own families,” he says.

“These employees, if they follow the program, will be able to create a great lifestyle to pass down to their children.”

The former U.S. Navy petty officer and firefighter would like to team up with local public schools to offer students for whom a traditional path to college isn’t a good fit the kind of pathway available at Callahan’s company.

He believes in the “campers, climbers, quitters” allegory: In life, there’s always a mountain. You can climb halfway and camp; keep climbing until you’ve reached the top; or quit before reaching the goal. Callahan will offer training to people willing to climb all the way.

“Having the ability to influence my employees isn’t something I take lightly,” he says. “Seeing my technicians grow into leaders is a true testimony of their success.”

Callahan enjoys giving back to the community and encourages his company to do the same – such as raising $20,000 for Toys for Tots in the last three years.

“Taking a look at our company now, having over doubled in size in the last three years and knowing that each person is being provided a pathway to provide financial stability and satisfaction makes me the proudest.”

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