This blog dedicated to help the millions of homeowner and business facilities fight the constant problem of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Amistee In Crains Detroit

Referrals, commercial work boost duct-cleaner Amistee

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Mike McCowan (left) and Steve Dickinson started Amistee Inc. in 2005.

Photo credit: Courtesy Amistee Inc.

Amistee Inc. owners Steve Dickinson and Mike McCowan have a history of seeing business opportunities when other people are hunkering down.

While attending Michigan State University together, the pair launched a number of money-making ventures, including lawn care and snow removal.

When 2 feet of snow fell on East Lansing one winter, they knocked on doors and got jobs shoveling snow off the roofs of local homes.

The pair later graduated from MSU with engineering degrees and went their separate ways for a year or two.

Dickinson headed to Connecticut and McCowan to Chicago. But they'd talk by telephone about how their corporate jobs weren't for them.

They quit their jobs, returned to Michigan and in 2005 launched Amistee to take advantage of the opportunity they saw in air duct cleaning.

Amistee has grown each year since then. But its owners, both age 28, saw an opportunity this year to expand the business.

By increasing their marketing budget 56 percent to build relationships with heating and cooling companies for referrals, the Realtors of foreclosed homes, and companies looking to cut energy costs, Dickinson and McCowan expect revenue of $900,000 to $950,000 this year, up from $698,000 in 2008.

The two plan to hire two sales people to help expand Amistee's market and hit $1 million or more in sales next year. Amistee employs 12, including the owners.

Amistee needs “to do more than just place a Yellow Pages ad,” Dickinson said.

Because of the economy, it makes sense to do more business networking and advertising through trade shows, association memberships and events hosted at Amistee's Novi site and restaurants. Increased direct mail advertising is also in the plan, he said.

People buying foreclosed homes and houses that have been sitting on the market empty represent business opportunity, he said.

“If you have construction debris or bacteria in the duct system, that's what you're going to be breathing,” he said.

And companies looking to cut energy costs can shave as much as a third off the cost of their building's compressor energy by having the air-conditioning unit coils cleaned, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates.

“For the commercial properties, they're interested in trying to save as much money as they can,” McCowan said. “When you get in these large buildings with a lot of coils that get plugged up, for us to come in and clean everything, in the long term, that's going to save them money.”

An increasing number of businesses across the country are getting their ductwork and coils cleaned in an effort to cut heating and cooling costs, said John Schulte, executive director of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association in Washington, D.C.

Between 40 percent and 45 percent of the energy used in a commercial or industrial building typically is tied to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, Schulte said.

“It used to be (companies) cleaned air ducts for better indoor air quality,” he said. “Now we're seeing more (companies) cleaning because they want the energy savings.”


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