Grand Forks plumbing and cooling business faces off against busy season, summer temperatures – Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS – The summer months can be some of the busiest months for Vilandre Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing.
While North Dakota winters are notorious in the United States, summer temperatures can still soar into the 90s and occasionally even triple digits. Tyler Thompson, senior service technician at Vilandre Heating, AC and Plumbing, said the busy season has already started.
“We’re already very busy,” Thompson said. “So right now we have a couple of our people who handle most of our maintenance contracts. We have residential maintenance and then commercial maintenance.”
One difference for Vilandre’s work on the commercial side is that the companies they work for tend to make calls earlier than residents. Thompson said commercial properties typically start air conditioning much earlier because it’s typically a larger space that needs cooling than a home.
Thompson’s favorite part of his job is working with different clients. Working with homeowners is a little more personal, and he enjoys seeing dozens of homes in Grand Forks and hearing stories about them from their owners. On the commercial side, he says that Vilanre’s customers are usually busier, but many of them use Vilanre every year to service their air conditioners.
“I love going there every year and getting interactions with them,” Thompson said. “You can chat with them a bit if time allows, but both sides are very beneficial for us at Vilandre.”
Even with high temperatures currently only reaching the mid-70s, Vilandre gets calls from homeowners about their air conditioners. Thompson said call volume will increase with temperatures.
“Anything above 65 (or) 68[degrees]starts the sun beating in, and there are a lot of people with allergies these days who can’t open their windows and have to leave their air conditioner on,” Thompson said. “We’ve been busy… It’s supposed to be fun.”
Vilandre only works with residents or businesses that have central air conditioning rather than just window units. However, for new on-site construction, there has been an ongoing shift to centralized air. Apartment complexes in the Grand Forks area used to have window units almost exclusively. Now, Thompson said most homes either recently built or under construction have central heating and air conditioning.
“It’s great for the apartment, and most of the time the setup is nice enough that we can go in and work on it, so it’s not too big of a deal,” Thompson said. “We also get the residential aspect. If you go to Belmont half the houses never had air conditioning, they only have a boiler system so they don’t even have a fan or anything to run. So over the past 10 years, our business has recovered on Belmont.”
Vilandre has not been immune to the supply chain issues that exist in the United States in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most companies, it has had to adjust the way it prepares for jobs and the way it takes inventory and stores parts.
“We store a lot of gear here, but there’s only a limited amount of parts that we can store here,” Thompson said. “On the equipment side, we’re okay in that regard. Some of the parts, you know, we had a difficult time getting around.”
Sometimes it’s a week. Sometimes it’s two weeks or more. It depends on the part in question as well as the time it takes. Sometimes Vilandre has to order overnight to get parts on time when they are available, but this is not always possible. Thompson said it was fortunate.
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” Thompson said. “With everything that’s happening right now, you have to take it day by day and do your best.”