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AMSCO Thrives on Challenging Jobs

August 19, 2022

Air Mechanical and Service Corp. (AMSCO) in Orlando likes big jobs. Part of a state-wide company, AMSCO Orlando specializes in high-profile projects, often for local governments in Orlando, Orange and Seminole counties: schools, city and county buildings, and courthouses.

Providing HVAC and contracting services for big government entities means lots of rules and oversight. If something goes wrong, the team could get an angry phone call or a headline in the local paper.

Despite the magnitude of these jobs, or perhaps because of it, AMSCO likes to leave the smallest possible footprint. A good business practice when working in the public sector because the buildings are almost always occupied while AMSCO does the installation. It's also self-preservation.

“When we work in courthouses, I’ve been told more than once, by more than one judge, that they will hold us in contempt if we’re too disruptive,” said Eric Parker, AMSCO’s Service Area Manager. “I didn’t get the feeling they were joking. If we make a mistake, we’ll find ourselves in the newspapers really quick.”


The Many Facets of Big Projects
When AMSCO performs a big HVAC installation for a government customer, the customer wants it to be done fast and seamlessly and to kick up as little dust as possible. In many ways, their customers only see the tip of the iceberg – the 10% of the work that’s being done in plain sight. The rest is happening behind the scenes.

The process begins with a thorough bid. In addition to fully scoping the actual work, AMSCO tries to foresee possible complications, such as the impacts of local ordinances, and meet aggressive schedules. Sometimes the bid paperwork is two inches thick.

“Every day's a deadline here,” said Chief Estimator Bobby Joe Roberson. “When we’re bidding for the government, they'll release a job, and we have to imagine everything that's involved with it. We have about a week-and-a-half two weeks to get all that together and submit the proper questions by the deadline.”

Bidding is just one of many challenges. Every municipal government has multiple sectors, and each one might want their bidding information in a slightly different format. Because the buildings are occupied, AMSCO recognizes they are coming into people’s workplaces and must treat the surroundings with the greatest possible respect and care.

“The challenge is when you walk onto a marble floor or a carpeted area with all this fine wood and beautiful furniture,” said Parker. “You’re going to cut a hole the size of a small school bus through the roof, and people still need to use their office space. These are occupied buildings.”

In some ways, these jobs can be more challenging than the initial construction – the AMSCO team has to make significant changes to install the HVAC system without compromising the structural integrity of the building.

“We're not just doing mechanical pieces,” said Branch Manager Lance Gorney. “We are doing the structural portions, making sure the roof doesn't fall in, reinforcing the structure.”

The Value of Rigorous Preparation
AMSCO overcomes these challenges with intensive planning and trusted subcontractors. The planning starts with capturing video of the site. It helps the team visually understand the job’s parameters, as well as record the worksite’s condition before they start.

They also work hard to set accurate expectations. In one instance, the team was putting down a layer of plastic to protect the carpet. The downside was that heels could get caught in the plastic. The AMSCO team was careful to communicate this, and other potential issues, to the people in the building.

“The customer has to feel like they are part of the job because that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Senior Project Manager Don Grace “They are a big part of what's going on, and if you bring them into the process, and make them feel like they're part of it, that makes a big difference.”


Shortly after an HVAC bid is accepted, the team kicks into high gear. They’ve always ordered their materials quickly but stretched supply chains have made this practice even more important. Once they have the appropriate supplies, they begin prefabricating everything they can, which saves time and trouble on the actual jobsite.

“We need to have the pipe prefabbed or the ductwork prefabbed so we can get in and out as quickly as possible,” said Grace. “If it’s a 100-ton chiller install, we can start on Saturday morning or Friday night, and it'll be running and they can use the building on Monday morning. That's where we shine. People are often shocked when they walk in and find they've got a new system, and they can use their facility.”

Lance Gorney likes to recall an especially nice compliment he received from a customer after a complex project: “Your guys are like little elves. When I come in, everything's exactly the way it was when I left. I never hear them. I never see them. All I know is the job is getting done.”

The AMSCO - Trane Collaboration
AMSCO uses a variety of HVAC service and equipment suppliers, often deferring to their customers’ preferences, but they have a special relationship with Trane.

Sales Engineer Kelly Maniar has been working with the group for more than 15 years and is an integral part of the team, helping them manage logistical issues and get the jobs done on time.

Maniar was a little intimidated at first. But over the next couple of years, she built a trust with the group and has even been invited to AMSCO events.

“They invited me to a hockey game,” said Maniar. “I thought, they’re probably inviting all their vendors. I expected to be sitting next to another salesperson from the competitor. But I was the only one invited, and I thought, hey, they really like me.”

With the tight supply chains everyone has experienced, this relationship becomes extra important. Maniar and AMSCO collaborate closely to make sure these problems don’t delay any jobs.

“Shipping problems happen,” said Parker. “Sometimes things don't get delivered when they're supposed to or they're kind of messed up. But working with Kelly, we've never really had a problem with getting those things rectified.”

The communication starts with the bidding process and continues through shipping and encompasses all aspects of the job. If AMSCO has an issue, they know they can just pick up the phone.

“It’s been great working with the same person at Trane for so many years,” said Parker. “Kelly has always been there for us, always been a part of what we do and always backed us on everything, especially helping us set up in occupied buildings. That relationship with Kelly and Trane has been part of our success.”


AMSCO team and Kelly Maniar, Trane