Thirty years ago, Bill Hayes could not imagine where he is today, even though he found out early on which area he would pursue.
As the owner of Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning, Hayes is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the 55th anniversary of the company’s founding.
Hayes grew up in Rochester and joined the Navy, where he served for six years. He pretty much knew where his career path would take him when he enrolled at Alfred State College to study heating and air conditioning. There he also met his wife, Jo Ann.
They married, settled in Lackawanna and had two children, aged 5 and 7, when Hayes got the opportunity to take on Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning.
Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning was founded in 1966 by Batavia-born Roy Turnbull who was working for a mechanical engineering contractor in Buffalo when he decided to set up his own business and work from his house at 7 Roosevelt Street. In 1970 he moved to the Harvester Building and incorporated in 1972.
“It was a four or five man operation until I took over in 1991,” said Hayes. “Roy had a part-time accountant, himself, and four mechanics.”
It was a twist of fate that Hayes and Turnbull met.
“I worked as the vice president of a heating and air conditioning company in Buffalo, a dealer in York,” said Hayes. “Roy was also a York dealer. When my boss died at a young age in 1969, his wife mourned and gave Jo Ann and me a trip they had planned to attend a convention in York, Grand Cayman Islands. There I met Roy. “
Years later, when Turnbull sold his company to two of its employees and retired, Hayes wasn’t even in the picture, he said, until Turnbull’s negotiations with his employees failed.
“We’d kept in touch since the trip and one day Roy called and asked what I was doing,” said Hayes. “I told him I was preparing to make a sideways movement somewhere and he said, ‘Wait a minute. How would you like to live in Batavia? ‘I had kids 5 and 7 and lived three blocks from my mother-in-law, but I went home and asked my wife how she would like to live in Batavia. “
Her answer was “No way,” said Hayes.
“But over coffee the next morning she said, ‘You know, I never want to blame our saying,’ What if we moved to Batavia? ‘ ”
Hayes took a week off and drove to Turnbull on the phone during that time.
“It was scary jumping ship to another company,” said Hayes. “Nobody in Batavia knew me. But Roy and I agreed on some terms and he gave me a note and I paid for the business in 10 years. I signed the papers on February 1, 1991, and the next day Roy went on vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC, and stayed for three months. He said if I had any questions to call him. “
Hayes commuted from Lackawanna for a year and a half, always on call for 911 calls. In October 1992 Hayes moved to Batavia with his family.
Turnbull Heating and Air Conditioning grew gradually under Hayes’ ownership. In 1997 he started A-1 Sheet Metal to get plenums and ducts up and running and to accommodate the DIY enthusiasts. Hayes said her motto was “Do it yourself, with our help.”
When Hayes bought the company, it occupied 400 square feet of office space and 2,000 square feet of retail space. They had been expanded to 20,000 square feet when the landlord Tom Mancuso came to Hayes one day and said, “I have a construction site for you at 50 Franklin Street”.
Hayes moved the business there in August 2007.
“It was the best I’ve ever done,” he said.
As a full-service dealer for heating, air conditioning and commercial refrigeration, Hayes now employs 18 trucks with 26 full and part-time employees.
As business grew throughout West New York, particularly in Rochester and Livingston Counties, Hayes opened a satellite office in Avon in 2002 to serve as a sales office and parts warehouse.
Photo by Howard Owens.