20 Questions with Carmine Galletta, CEO of GallettAir Inc. Long Island, NY

Originally published: 09.01.07 by Terry Tanker


Carmine Galletta of GallettAir Inc., Long Island, N.Y., the winner of HVACR Business’ First Annual Truck Design Contest, spent a day with publisher Terry Tanker discussing the value of well-planned fleet programs, car collections, restaurants, service contracts, and more.

1. What is your secret ambition?

To own a 1950s-style restaurant.

2. Why this type of restaurant?
It’s a great gathering place for car enthusiasts or to be with your family.

3. Are you a car enthusiast, too?
Yes. I may be better classified as a collector.

4. What would we find in your collection?
A 1955 Chevy, 1994 and 1996 Dodge Vipers, ’05 Lamborghini Gallardo, ’05 Ford GT-40, 1969 Chevelle SS 396, 2000 Plymouth Prowler, ’05 Saleen, 1970 Pro Street Nova, and a 1964 Corvair Convertible.

5. When you leave the office Friday night, where are you headed?
Usually to a local car club meeting with one of the cars.

6. What is the best thing about your job?
The ability to help people who need our services. It is also very satisfying for me to use my business and technical skills to teach our younger employees about this great industry. We all have to make a concerted effort to bring younger people into our industry. I am a firm believer that consistent training is necessary if a company is going to survive.

7. Does GallettAir have a formal training program?
Yes, and to us training is more than just technical. We try to produce well-rounded employees. We have manufacturer training sessions as well as NATE training and testing that take place on site. Additionally, when a newly hired person begins work, they are placed with a senior mechanic for at least a week, no matter what level of experience they have. Our managers then receive a report about the new hire and their ability in the field.

8. What is your largest challenge this year?
Keeping ahead of the curve by continually raising the bar. Making sure GallettAir is always a step ahead by setting goals and standards while making sure we all do our best to achieve them.

9. What is the most important lesson your business has taught you?
That success is earned and does not come as easily as most people think. It’s an extreme sacrifice of time, but very rewarding. Remember, never take a good year for granted, and always plan ahead just in case.

10. What is the secret to your success?
Honesty with customers. To take care of your employees. Always reinvest in your company.

11. Let’s name names. Who are some famous customers you’ve done work for?
Ralph Macchio, Dwight Gooden, Mike Bossey, Keyshawn Johnson, Al Toon, Sergei Zubov, Bobby Nystrom.

12. Do you have a good marketing story?
Yes. We advertise extensively and do all types of advertising and marketing including radio, print, direct mail, directories, home shows, and our fleet vehicles. Unfortunately, we’ve struggled for years trying to partner with a manufacturer for co-op advertising dollars. However, this year we’ve succeeded. It’s a win win situation all the way around.

13. How do you market IAQ?
We believe in selling IAQ on every job. We even invested in power vacuum trailers for duct cleaning equipped with inspection cameras. We talk to owners about overall indoor air quality — not just about the air filters that we install into the systems. IAQ is very important and should be taken even more seriously now with the super tight, energy efficient homes being built today.

14. You have over 15,000 service agreements on file. When and how did you make this a focal point of sales for the company?
We’ve been in business 25 years, and we focused on service right from the beginning. Offering service agreements is not easy. It’s a 365-day, 24/7 commitment. You have to be willing to respond at all hours of the day or night in all kinds of weather — weekends and holidays included. Not many companies are willing to do this, but we do. That’s what a true service company does. Our customers know when they call us, we are there for them quickly with no excuses. That’s why they keep coming back each year.

15. GallettAir won HVACR Business’ first fleet-design contest this May. Clearly you’ve made a significant investment in the fleet. What is the pay off?
Terrific brand awareness and recognition for GallettAir. Both are extremely high here on Long Island.

16. How many vehicles are in the fleet?
Twenty-four.

17. How did you come up with the GallettAir design?
We wanted to update our design and modernize the look of our trucks. We had the same look for 23 years, and I felt we needed an update. I met a local designer, Phil Danza from G Design, and we discussed my ideas for our fleet. Phil came up with the new design and layout based on our discussion. It was an instant hit with employees, customers, and prospects.

18. Who takes care of the fleet?
Each technician is designated a service vehicle. They are responsible for cleaning and maintaining it. We have accounts at a local car wash and for maintenance and repairs. The technicians take their trucks home in the evening. We want it to be a source of pride for them. The technicians who take best care of their trucks are awarded the first new trucks that arrive when the fleet is renewed.

19. Is the fleet your largest capital expense?
No. My largest capital expense is payroll, but it’s all relative. Excellent employees expect and deserve excellent compensation for their knowledge and skills.

20. Have fleet vehicles always been part of a marketing plan or has it evolved over the years?
Absolutely. Before starting my company, I always found myself comparing other service vehicles to the one that I was driving for my boss. I always kept my truck clean and waxed. I realized that people respected the company and had more confidence in us when I arrived at their home or business in a clean vehicle with a company name on it.

 


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