Delivering Real Success

HTS Texas

HTS Texas is an independent, built-to-order commercial, institutional and industrial HVAC equipment provider. It builds complex automated systems and offers technical servicing for various heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. The company’s building automation systems include temperature allotting controls, humidity controls, security controls, fire alarms, and low voltage solutions.
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The company has over 100,000 square feet of warehouse space in Texas stocking spare parts for the equipment it sells and services. The commercial air conditioning business is not much different than a residential air conditioning business in a hot climate like Texas; when people do not have air conditioning, the heat is unbearable. The spare parts warehouses allow HTS Texas to service the cooling needs of clients as quickly as possible.

“If a piece of equipment that we’ve sold in the past is down for some odd reason, we have to have the ability to get it back up and running; we don’t think of our clients as business to business, we think of our clients as humans to humans,” explains Mike Donovan, President of HTS Texas. The company empathizes with the client’s circumstances; whether that client is a hospital, a school, a hotel, an industrial manufacturing facility, an office building, a university classroom, or a laboratory, the work is always done as fast as possible for each client.

Mike describes why this fast service is not simply about keeping clients comfortable. “You’re not just making someone uncomfortable,” he explains, “you’re ruining a business, or you’re ruining research, and in a hospital surgery setting, for example, the ramifications are high, so we have to serve clients quickly, efficiently and on time.”

The parent company HTS was started in Toronto in 1992 as a classical manufacturer representative and it quickly aligned itself with some major air conditioning manufacturing companies. The company first expanded into Chicago and Boston. When the company grew into Texas, it expanded in a unique way; it expanded with Daikin, a major air conditioning manufacturer. At the time it was called McQuay, and today Daikin is the largest air conditioning manufacturer in the world. Mike Donovan joined the company in 2001, one of the first employees for HTS Texas, and he was hired to help the company build and expand throughout the state. HTS Texas started with ten people in 2002, and today it has over two hundred and fifty employees. In the last fifteen years, the company has experienced a strong boost in personnel and revenue.

A step above the rest
HTS Texas differentiates itself with its staff. Most of the people in sales and management positions have degrees in engineering, a degree that demonstrates perseverance. The company is dedicated to keeping its staff technically advanced problem solvers, and it has a keen eye for engineering projects. “We have to look for social engineers,” explains Mike, meaning that when the company recruits college graduates for its sales and project management positions, it looks for the unique blend of mechanical or electrical engineering students that have the right personality skills for sales and management in the company.

Another differentiating aspect of HTS is that although its competitors have most likely changed their compensation strategy for the sales and management team ten times in fifteen years, HTS has not changed its compensation strategy once since 2001. “It just provides a more predictable and secure scenario for the families [of employees], knowing that the methodology of the company is not going to change,” explains Mike.

Another unique aspect of the company is that when it began, HTS Texas wanted to stand behind its products, so it started with a five year comprehensive warranty on its products and today many of its products come with ten year warranties. This is disruptive to its competitors because nationally, most companies offer one to five year warranties. The ten year warranty sets HTS far apart from its competition.

For the first seven years of business, HTS Texas did not apply for any kind of awards. While it grew rapidly, the idea simply never occurred to the owners of the company. Once the website started to grow beyond one page, the company began to get more serious about its external presence and its image. The year 2009 was a noteworthy one for HTS Texas; it was a terrible year for the economy everywhere in the United States, including Texas, despite the state’s resilient economy. The president of the company decided to double down and to remain in full operation even though demand decreased significantly and there were far fewer opportunities. The company did, however, have to shift its focus away from new construction and renovation, which could only be successful in a growing construction market. Instead, HTS Texas invested in a new website, a new logo and a new public relations firm, and after rebranding exercises the company came out in 2009 with a new tagline, “Delivering Real Success”. This tagline represents the company’s commitment to ensuring the success of all those involved in a project’s HVAC system design – from building owners to architects and contractors, as well as end users. The economic downturn had some positive effects on HTS Texas; it gave the company a lot of time to determine how to be as successful as possible in the next ten years. In this time, it developed Vision 2020, a plan full of aspirations for what the company should look and feel like by the year 2020.

In the past seven years, the company has been recognized by the broader industry. It has won several Aggie 100 Awards, which celebrate the 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or led businesses. Texas A&M University recognized HTS Texas as a member of the 2015 Aggie 100, which represent the fastest growing companies in the world that are owned or operated by former Texas A&M University students. The company has also won several other awards including the Houston Business Journal award as well as Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies award.

Guiding principles
There are four main principles that lead the company day-to-day. The sense of urgency is one principle that was instilled in Mike by his father who always told him to “walk with a purpose,” and that a sense of urgency will always differentiate him from others. Another principle is based on the golden rule – to treat everyone in contact with HTS Texas the way you want to be treated. Often in business clients are treated much differently than employees or suppliers, but HTS Texas sees it differently. “Our suppliers are our gold; we do not treat them differently than customers… and our own colleagues. We have very little turnover here; people like to work here. If you treat your colleagues well they will treat you well.”

Another guiding principle is that the company always keeps its word. If anyone within HTS Texas promises to accomplish something – either verbally or via email – it will get done no matter how simple or complex the task. Operating with honesty and integrity is the final and most important principle for the company; it is the foundation of HTS Texas.

Key projects
HTS Texas provided all of the air conditioning controls for the massive new Daikin manufacturing facility forty miles from Houston, Texas that opened one year ago. The four million square foot manufacturing facility, named the Daikin Texas Technology Park, is actually located in Waller, Texas. It is the largest tilt-wall construction building in the world and it is LEED Gold certified. Another significant project for HTS Texas was the Sanofi Genzyme Allston Complex in Boston, Massachusetts, which is a 100,000 square foot building where HTS coordinated the delivery and installation of a twelve thousand ton Daikin Magnitude Magnetic Bearing Chiller during a plant shutdown scheduled to minimize the downtime.

HTS also provided a 223,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) Daikin Vision equipment bundle for Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, which is the largest football stadium in the Southeastern Conference with a seating capacity of more than 102,000 people. Other recent projects include the University of Texas Engineering Education and Research Center in Austin, and the Judson ISD Veterans Memorial High School in San Antonio, where the HTS equipment selection resulted in a $450,000 rebate from CPS Energy.

The Austin Community College San Gabriel Campus in Leander, Texas is an upcoming project for the company. The $60 million college campus is set to open in 2018 on a new, 100-acre parcel of land. The company will also be working with Austin Bergstrom International Airport with its terminal expansion and with the Union in Dallas, on an 800,000 square foot retail and residential building, supplying four air cooled chillers saving 12 million gallons of water.

Continuing to modernize
Today, HTS has seven software developers to design its own independent operating systems for use in the company. The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have become successful enough for other companies to start purchasing the software for use in their own businesses. HTS did not want to be pigeonholed by another company’s software to operate in a certain way. Mike explains that, “We wanted an enterprise system that was built for us, and it has just been a game changer for us; it’s been unbelievable.”

HTS Texas plans to expand further within the cities where it is already located and hopefully double in size over the next few years. It currently has offices in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Beaumont, Texas. It also has long term plans for continued growth in providing analytics and fault detection services to help other companies operate. Indeed, the future for HTS Texas entails much more than equipment distribution.

Seeing Red

In 2018, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released several of the worst examples of so-called “Red Tape” that businesses and developers need to complete before getting projects off the ground. The list reads almost as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to get a development, whether a condominium or a warehouse, completed quickly and on time.

December 14, 2019, 5:30 AM EST