Arlinghaus Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning has a slogan it often uses, and it has nothing to do with the company’s signature hot pink uniforms.

That oft-repeated phrase? “We’re always hiring.”

Arlinghaus, based in Erlanger and with a service footprint in Cincinnati, Indiana and Northern Kentucky, is one of few businesses experiencing growth amid COVID-19. After all, it’s an essential business. Problems with heating and cooling—even a clogged toilet—typically can’t wait. While turnover in the HVAC world is traditionally high, Arlinghaus tries the best it can to combat that by training and retaining its new hires. At press time, it had roughly a dozen open positions listed on its website, from service technician, inside sales and install to customer service representative and more.

“We like to say we have a people problem. We don’t have enough people,” says Shara Evans, Arlinghaus marketing manager. “We absolutely want to be the best and most reliable resource to our customer base. Trade industries are incredible, and that job security is there. It’s one of our big pushes right now, is finding the right people.”

Arlinghaus, founded by Brian Arlinghaus in a small space over Ernie’s Garage in Elsmere in 2008, has seen steady growth in terms of revenue. Its team fluctuates, but the company now employs about 65. It added plumbing to its list of residential services back in 2017, including installation, replacement, repair and maintenance. Business in that specialty “has just been phenomenal,” Evans says. “We’re busy.” Usually companies specialize in one area or the other—either HVAC or plumbing—but more outfits, she says, are combining those services. Locally, it’s a very competitive market.

“Ideally, we would love to be a one-stop shop, where you call, and we can make your house a happy house all around,” Evans says. “We like to look at it from a whole-home perspective. To have a relationship with a customer on the HVAC side, or on the plumbing side, and when they have a need for the other, we want them to feel comfortable and confident in our skillsets.”

Evans says demand for indoor air quality products, like whole-home purification systems, has been strong. That’s another windfall of COVID. An air purification system can reduce dust, mold, germs and overall air pollution in the home; improve air quality for those with allergies and asthma; lower humidity levels; and eliminate pet dander and airborne bacteria and germs. Using special testing kits and state-of-the-art monitoring systems, the Arlinghaus team can quickly determine the allergens and bacteria contaminating a home and come up with a customized solution. It’s a product Evans says customers have been very interested in. Air filters should be changed once a month, the company says. And at the very minimum, every three. 

“Air purifiers can really help out with the cleanliness of the air, and it’s an add on [to the HVAC system], just like when you buy a car and you can get leather or power steering,” Evans says. “With COVID, it’s something everyone has been really cognizant of.”

Despite the company’s overall growth, Arlinghaus has entered its slow, or shoulder season, unusually early, thanks to COVID-19, the presidential election cycle and general market uncertainty. In other words, “You have to put your shoulder into it and dig a little deeper [for sales],” Evans says.

To weather that stretch in a normal year, the company offers a special promotion in the spring. But, this year, it has kicked off a campaign in September. The company is running a BOGO promotion through Oct. 31, in which those who purchase a high-efficiency AC unit receive a free furnace as well. Customer retention in the offseason is key. So Arlinghaus continues to promote the need for annual maintenance—those tune-ups should occur before the start of summer and winter, respectively, before it gets too hot or too cold. And Arlinghaus continues to heavily market its financing options, as customers are more strapped for cash or are being more conservative with spending as the pandemic continues. The cost to replace an HVAC system is, on average, $7,000, according to HomeAdvisor, digital marketplace for home service professionals, with a typical range of $5,000-$10,000.

“If you look at an HVAC system, the average lifespan is 10 years. Unfortunately things are going to break, and when it goes out, most people aren’t prepared to make that kind of investment,” she says. “We want to try to eliminate those worries. We look at it like cars and oil changes. Preventative maintenance is always key and will help you keep on top of those unexpected repairs. It’s something we really encourage our customers to do, to be proactive.”

Of course, any potential team member that’s considering applying for one of the aforementioned jobs should keep one thing in mind. While Arlinghaus provides training—and even apprenticeship programs—it’s important to have compassion, Evans says. Arlinghaus, as one can imagine, is not typically meeting its customers in the best of times.

“Compassion is a huge thing,” Evans says. “These are not sexy purchases. [A call to us] is not a fun call to make. Something’s broke, and they’ve got a newborn at home or somebody elderly, and it’s hot or it’s cold. It’s a huge inconvenience to be uncomfortable in your home. When we walk into that environment, we don’t know what that stress level is on that family or that person that day. We try to be very solutions-oriented, from the moment a customer calls us on the phone through the service or install process. Service is our passion. We want to help restore that comfort as soon as possible and maintain that comfort. We want to go the extra mile to make our customers feel comfortable.”