- The company was launched in 2003 as a two-person operation.
- It now employs 23 people.
- The firm conducts a furnace giveaway and installation program each fall.
FARMINGTON — Michelle Robbins knew something unusual was going on as soon as she pulled up to the business she and her husband run one day last week to begin her day.
Robbins and her husband Steve are the owners of Farmington’s Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. Each day at the company typically begins with a safety meeting with employees, and that was the plan on this day, Feb. 9.
Michelle Robbins noticed the streets around where the firm is located at 1001 Farmington Ave. were full of cars, and she saw people in red coats wandering around the property. But her concern turned to delight moments later when she learned the folks in red coats were the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Redcoats, and the commotion was the result of her company being named the 2021 Business of the Year by the chamber.
“I really am just speechless,” Robbins said of her reaction to the honor. “I’m not sure how to process this.”
Chamber CEO and President Jamie Church said she watched as the Robbins staff went through its safety meeting that day, and she recalled how everyone stood up at the end of the gathering and recited the company’s mission statement.
“I was very impressed by that,” she said.
Robbins said that habit of repeating the mission statement each day helps everyone associated with the company stay focused on what’s important.
“Our mission is exceeding expectations by raising the bar,” she said. “We’re trying to turn the Southwest into a place that’s known for outstanding service.”
That has been a constant since Robbins and her husband Steve launched the company in 2003, she said. In the early days, it was just the two of them, with Steve responding to service calls and Michelle answering the phone and keeping the books.
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The couple believed there was room for another heating, ventilation and air conditioning company in Farmington that did things a little differently, she said.
“We thought things around here could be improved,” she said. “We focused on three things — customer relations, products and services, and employee relations.”
For their first 10 years in business, the company remained a two-person operation. Eventually, Michelle Robbins said, it became too much for them, and they decided to expand.
But even that move was done very carefully and intentionally, she said.
“We hired a business coach in 2013,” she said. “We thought we had the service worked out, but we wanted to grow the right way.”
The first now employs 23 people, and Robbins said all of them are important to the company’s success.
“They’re all awesome,” she said.
One of the reasons the company was chosen for the award, Church said, is because of its tradition of giving away and installing a free furnace to a needy local resident or family each November. Last year was the third year Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning had conducted the program.
“I thought that was such a wonderful thing,” Church said.
Robbins noted the idea to initiate the program came from one of her employees. She said that serves as an example of the degree to which the company’s workers are invested in making the firm part of the community.
The furnace giveaway program has generated much goodwill for the company, Robbins said, but she said that’s not why the firm does it.
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“We feel like our customers take care of us, and this is a way for us to pay it forward,” she said. “This is our thank you to our customers and community for supporting us.”
Church said six nominations were received for the Business of the Year award this year, and she was pleased to be able to present it to a small firm. A committee of chamber board members sifts through the nominations each year and picks a winner. Past recipients of the award include Citizens Bank, the San Juan Regional Medical Center and PESCO.
“This is one of my favorite things we do,” she said.
Church said chamber members are encouraged to make nominations for the Business of the Year award throughout the year, not just in November when the organization actively solicits nominations. Nominees do have to be chamber members, she said. For more information, call the chamber at 505-325-0279.
Robbins said the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a challenging time for her company, which saw its volume of calls increase greatly as people spent more time at home. That finally began to level off last fall, she said, and Robbins employees have had the chance to catch their breath this winter.
But she said her workers already are gearing up for what they know will be a busy summer as temperatures climb. Robbins and her husband are planning to prepare for that surge by moving the business to larger quarters at 1317 Schofield Lane in Farmington within the next month.
“It’s a new look, and it should be a big difference,” she said.
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Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.