Small service businesses save the world

By Joe Rector

Like many other homeowners, Amy and I aren’t taking a vacation this year. We’re dedicating that money to fixing things that are needed at our home and at the place we have in Gallatin. We’ve been lucky because in both cases, the work has been completed by local companies.

A month or so ago, we traveled to Gallatin to visit our daughter who lives in Hendersonville, about seven miles from our condo. Our first act upon arrival was to turn the thermostat down to cool the place off. The unit ran for just a minute and then stopped. Thinking it might have frozen up, I left it off for a couple of hours, but when I turned the a/c back on, again the unit ran for a couple of seconds and then quit. A phone call was placed to a large heating and air company. A technician came out with the understanding that a service call would be $89.00.

The man worked for a while and informed us that the fan had died. He said one was available in his company’s shop, so we agreed to have it installed. After completing the job and us paying another $600, we were ready for some cool air. The thing ran for more than two hours at which time the temperature had risen from 74 to 78. We called the company again, and the next day the same man arrived. This time he went outside to check that piece of equipment. Surprise! The compressor was dead and that meant the entire heat and air unit would need replacing. This bigger company gave a price right at $8000 for a gas furnace and a/c unit.

I was put out that we’d paid $700 already to find out a new system was needed. The company offered $500 credit toward a new unit, but my principles got in the way, and I refused. Our condo neighbor suggested we contact his serviceman.

Rick Apple is a one-man company. I called, and he offered to drop by our place and look at the unit, thereby keeping us from making another trip to Gallatin. He called to tell us that the system did need to be replaced. His bid for doing the same work as the big company was about half the price. Rick also told us that we could call him at any time to get help with any future problems. Apple’s Heating and Air Condition Services saved us plenty of money and gave us a person on whom we can count for quality work and prompt service.

We signed a contract in Knoxville to have our roof replaced in June. On several occasions, we contacted the company to see when the work would start, but each time we were told others were ahead of us. I was tired of waiting by the first week of October and called Daniel Hood Roofing Systems. I talked personally with him, and he assured me that work would begin within one week of our signing a contract.

The crew showed up on a Friday and removed the old roof, replaced some plywood, and put down shingles on most of the roof. They cleaned the area and place trash in the dumpster the company provided. Two workers swept the yard with large magnets to find nails that might have fallen in the grass. Daniel dropped by the house to inspect the completed job and thanked Amy and me for our business, I can’t remember the last time a business made me feel that appreciated. The finished product is beautiful, and Daniel standing behind the work of his crews allays worries.

Spending on a house never seems to end. Repairs are a part of homeownership. The good thing about an otherwise unfortunate situation is discovering local small businesses that provide excellent services to customers. Most folks don’t mind paying a fair price. They do want to feel valued as a customer and confident in the services of the provider. I’m proud to say that Apple’s Heating and Air Conditioning Services and Daniel Hood Roofing fulfilled both. Small businesses are the backbone of America, and these companies are sure to be around for years to come.

By the way, as we left Gallatin, I discovered that the garbage disposal was leaking. I’ll be looking for another “guy” when I go back. It’s always something.

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