Schneller Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is devoted to providing customer satisfaction. And it has been for almost 90 years.
Founded by Rudy and Jean Schneller in 1928, the original HVAC company operated from Rudy’s car in Evanston. In 1991, Kris Knochelmann, with his brothers and brothers-in-law, bought his father’s plumbing business. In 1997, they sold the business to Service Experts. While he stayed with the business for several more years, Knochelmann eventually had his position eliminated and turned down a different role.
But that wasn’t the end of Schneller. Knochelmann discovered the company was for sale on a church retreat and bought the business in 2011. Today, there are three locations—Ohio Pike in Clermont County, Delhi and Covington—bringing in $7 million in revenue in 2016.
A native of Taylor Mill, Knochelmann worked his way up as a dispatcher, service manager and general manager. In addition to owning Schneller, Knochelmann became county judge executive in Kenton County in 2014. While the latter is a full-time job, he depends on his management team to run the business.
The focus of the company is residential with light commercial. “Our niche is repair and replacement,” says Knochelmann. “Most calls we can do in one day.”
The company bought Dick Scott Plumbing and Cincinnati Plumbing in 2015, bringing the total number of employees to 45. “I love building a team and giving them a chance to grow,” says Knochelmann. He cites goals of having a better product for his customers. “We take guys who have never picked up a tool and train them. We try to be trend setting, … using an iPad and online scheduling including electronic confirmation.”
Every customer receives a phone call from Neal Elliott, customer satisfaction manager. The company and its representatives regularly receive a nine-to-10 ranking.
There is a low turnover in the staff, who average 10 years of employment. “I appreciate the loyalty,” says Knochelmann.
“We like to take care of our customers,” Knochelmann says. To accomplish that goal, employees attend 50 to 100 hours of training every year.
Schneller likes to keep up with new technology, including airflow, testing and sewer repair. The company has added a sewer lining truck at the cost of $200,000.
He has an excellent group of managers who help with everything from recruiting to training. “As you grow, keep the level of service high,” he says
Because the company is locally owned and locally based he sees people at church or Kroger and wants to hear positive stories. “My name is on the truck,” Knochelmann says.
Although Knochelmann spends most of his time as judge executive, he is in the Schneller office twice a week. He receives daily performance reports and feedback from managers who take care of the business. His wife and co-owner, Lisa, manages the marketing and accounting side.
In 2017, Knochelmann will be 46 and plans to work at least until he is 70. He easily puts in 12 hours per day. “Quality people make us look good,” he says. “I don’t envision stopping working.”