Meet Cinch Service Provider Mike Jasionowski. He’s the lead technician at Boone Heating and Cooling, an HVAC company serving central Indiana. Mike’s basic rule of business is simple: “This is the service industry. The customer comes first. Our approach is grounded in total honesty, and customers are blown away by that because there’s a lot of distrust in this industry.”
Mike encountered that distrust years ago through his remodeling business, MLJ Fine Trades. There he often worked with other contractors: plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians. Some of them would overcharge, among other less-than-ethical practices. One instance even prompted Mike to take legal action. This is partly why he began studying HVAC at Ivy Tech and received a degree; he sensed too many times that something was amiss and, according to Mike’s basic principle of honest service, the customer deserves better.
We spoke to Mike recently from his office in Whitestown, Indiana, which was busy as usual. His wife, Katie, was fielding calls, and Mike was eager to get started on a long day of servicing homes and keeping the heat running smoothly during this cold-weather season. In fact, it’s been so busy that Mike works weekends just to catch up and prepare for the following week. It seems that his honest, customer-first approach makes for good business.
Cinch: So, you started off as a custom woodworker and then transitioned into HVAC?
MJ: Initially, we offered both remodeling and HVAC. We decided to go all in on HVAC because custom remodeling is more of a luxury. We were a first-rate, high-end business. And every fourth year, we’d take a dip financially because of election anxiety. Our average job was $28,000, and fewer homeowners are inclined to spend that until the election season is over.
Cinch: I guess HVAC needs don’t follow election cycles.
MJ: Especially out here [in Indiana]. We get all types of weather, so people’s HVAC systems are always working, except for maybe two weeks in the spring and fall.
Cinch: What’s the number-one DIY step a homeowner can take to maintain their HVAC system?
MJ: Change the filter. The more extreme the weather, the harder the furnace has to work. In Indiana, the saying is: If your filter is 1-inch-thick, change it every month.
Cinch: What about vents? Is there any secret to opening and closing vents?
MJ: Sometimes people will close their vents. That’s another common mistake. We’re in the business of moving air. Vents need to stay open because furnaces hate pressure. The more pressure, the harder it has to work. And HVAC systems are like athletes — the older they get, the less injury they can sustain.
Cinch: What about ductwork? Do you ever have to get into the ducts to repair them?
MJ: There are two main common issues with ductwork. One, the ducts were poorly designed from the start, and two, someone taps into a duct to bring air into a new room. That happens a lot with remodels. Ducts are designed to displace the perfect amount of air pressure to all vents. When you add a new vent, it messes up the pressure.
A lot of installers take a one-size-fits-all approach to ductwork. But there are a lot of considerations to factor. You could have two of the same houses and think, “Their ductwork should be identical.” But what if one house is across from a lake, and the other is in direct sunlight for most of the day — their heating and cooling needs will be different. There are a lot of subtleties that go into it.
Another important factor is return air. Return-air vents are there to keep you comfortable. If you don’t have a return-air vent in, say, your master bedroom, you need to make sure there’s a 1-inch space at the bottom of your bedroom door. The air needs to get out somehow. If it doesn’t, you’re going to get that pressure buildup and make the furnace work that much harder.
Cinch: HVAC really seems as much art as science. Do you have any general advice for people who are in the market for a new home or a new HVAC system?
MJ: If you’re buying a new home that has an HVAC system, spend a couple hundred bucks and have an HVAC company do an independent inspection. They will find things that your home inspector might miss. It’s worth it.
Cinch: It’s nice to see how well Boone Heating and Cooling is doing.
MJ: That’s a result of effort and truthfulness. [When] we started in Whitestown, [there were] two other HVAC companies here in town. Customers really responded to our honesty and directness. Many of our customers were originally contracted with one of the other two companies. Customers were tired of the constant practices of being “sold to.” We are not trying to sell people something that they don’t need; we are a repair company first. The more customers we got in front of with this mindset, the more they referred us to friends and family. We even have several customers who are constantly posting about us on Facebook. Whenever there is an HVAC post within the community, they clamor to recommend us. They will even go as far as personally tagging myself or Katie so that we are sure to see it. As we built trust within the community, the other two HVAC companies were forced out of town. Even though we are still fairly new for a company, we have won the trust and loyalty of our customers.
Cinch: Last question: You started out in custom woodworking. Do you still return to that as a hobby?
MJ: You know what they say, once a hobby becomes a profession, it stops being a hobby. (laughs) But if I need to build something, I’ll build it.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.