Home » All Start Local Episodes » Starting + Leading a Community-Focused Business with Bill Ronayne
Starting + Running a Community-Focused Business with Bill Ronayne

Podcast published: April 5, 2024

We step into the podcast studio with Bill Ronayne, the founder and owner of Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning. Founded in 1993, BVHVAC has grown to more than 60 employees, serving both residential and commercial customers from its base in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We speak with Bill about running and growing his community-focused business for more than thirty years.


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Liam Dempsey: Welcome to Start Local, where we talk with business owners, leaders of nonprofits, and other members of our community focused on doing business in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania. Each episode will provide insight into the local business scene and tell you about opportunities to connect with and support businesses and nonprofits in your local area.

Joe Casabona: The Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce promotes the trade commerce industry and sustainable economic development while supporting a diverse and growing marketplace. The Chamber is proud to partner with the Start Local podcast to raise the profile of businesses and nonprofits throughout Chester County. Learn more about the chamber at sccc.com.

Liam Dempsey: Welcome to Start Local, where we connect with local leaders to support local businesses and nonprofits in and around Chester County, Pennsylvania. I’m Liam Dempsey, and I’m in our podcast studio today with my cohost, Joe Casabona. Joe, how are you?

Joe Casabona: I’m doing great, Liam. How are you?

Liam Dempsey: I also am doing great basking in the joy that was our fantastic event last night. Folks, we had our first-ever in-person community event at Stolen Sun last night, and I am just over the moon with how fun and what a great community we have.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And, you know, Liam, big shout out to you. You took points on that event, and it was great. We had an incredible turnout for our 1st in-person kinda networking event. I’m, I know I met a lot of great people. One of my goals for this show was to meet more people since I’m from outside the area, and mission accomplished there. It was so much fun. The food was great. The conversation was great, and we’re excited to see even more people next time.

Liam Dempsey: Absolutely. And folks, if you wanna get advanced notice of when that next in-person event is gonna be, head over to [startlocal.co] and subscribe to get our news, our updates, our newsletters, and our episodes. That’s the best way to do it. [startlocal.co] and subscribe there. 

Today, we are joined by Bill Ronayne, Founder and Owner of Brandywine Valley Heating and Air Conditioning. In business for more than 30 years now, BVHAC is based in Westchester, Pennsylvania, and serves both residential and commercial customers. Bill, welcome to the show.

Bill Ronayne: Thanks, Liam. Thanks for having me. Joe, how are you doing?

Joe Casabona: I’m doing great, Bill. Thanks for being here and chatting with us today.

Bill Ronayne: Glad to do it.

Liam Dempsey: Bill, you started Brandywine Valley Heating and Air Conditioning in 1993. That’s now more than 30 years ago. This is gonna be kind of a tough question for you, I think. But if you had to limit yourself to just one single answer, what’s the one thing that keeps you coming into the office every day? Why are you still at it?

Bill Ronayne: I love what I do. I get the best job in the world. I love helping customers. I love teaching our team members about this industry. I think it’s a great industry. It’s something that everybody needs, and it’s been very good for me and my family. And it helps us or, you know, following our core values really brings it home for our team, and that’s what makes me come in every day.

Joe Casabona: That’s awesome. Now, you kinda touched on many of the reasons that keep you coming to the office, but, you also shared with us that BVHAC currently has 65 employees. Walk us through the growth of your business with respect to bringing on new team members. Was it harder to go from, say, 0 to 1 employee or 30 to 60?

Bill Ronayne: Well, 0 to 1 was pretty easy because all I had to do was wake up and go, I’m in. But, you know, each and every every time I bring on a new team member, it’s a process. It’s a new process, and it’s the, we’ve enjoyed steady growth. We’ve been in the right community at the right time with the right economic climate. And the county concern that I’ve had through the years is when I do bring on somebody, my fear is, can I sustain this employee? Do I have enough business? The number of tools and the amount of training that we do with our people, it’s a huge investment. And I don’t wanna make that investment and then and make a promise to somebody to give them lifelong employment if they hold their end of the bargain up and then have to lay them off because of lack of work. So that’s the only thing that really is, that’s a little scary is like, can I make sure that I have enough business coming in the door every day to keep this guy employed or gal?

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. That’s a big wait from time to time, I expect. By your admission, and this might even be a humble brag, you stated that your company gets the bulk of its work for its referrals. And we just chatted about how now you’re over 60 employees. You’re trying to hire them so that they have a career with you for life. And, that’s a bigger company than you’re managing every day. I expect you have a number of teams, a number of managers, and various levels in there. So how are you communicating your brand values? You talked about the core values in your initial answer. How are you communicating those to new-time members? And how do you make sure that they embrace or frankly, at the very least adhere to those when they’re on the site, when they’re on the job, when they’re not in front of you?

Bill Ronayne: Well, the core values are really, the core of who we are and how we operate. And we never published or wrote our core values down until about 5 years ago. I had a business coach who came and looked at our systems and what we were doing. He goes, you have a great program. You really need to memorialize your core values, put them on the website, and shout them from the rooftops. 

And, so Michael Gildlewski from Achievement Unlimited, we sat down and worked on our core value statements and we came up with 5 core values that we didn’t make up. We didn’t create them. They’re who we were from the very beginning. I just didn’t know it. We just never wrote it down. Now that we have those now, on our scoreboards around the office, they’re hanging from the walls. We talk about them in every meeting. It’s how we raise and review and talk to our people. The core values really are, if you ever had a question about the process of how we should do things, I tell people if I’m not around, just look at the core values. The answer’s there. It’s on that single sheet of paper.

Joe Casabona: I love that. And I’d like to follow up on something you said here, about business coaches. I think, this is something that a lot of businesses don’t talk about, but I suspect many utilize. We’ll talk about some of your successes in being in business over 30 years in a little bit, but what made you realize that you should hire a business coach, if you don’t mind, telling us?

Bill Ronayne: I have spent my entire adult life as a fierce competitor, and I know that fierce competitors don’t succeed unless they have coaches. The biggest problem with the boss is he doesn’t have one. So you need somebody to keep your head straight. And I was early on in my business career, I was introduced to a guy from New England named Bill McLaughlin. And Bill was a, I call him my business dad or my business granddad, but he was from up in Connecticut and he came down. I hired him to come down once a month and he was really, all he did was consult with BHVAC businesses. But Bill gave me those early lessons about how to set things up, how to have plot processes in place, to how to do things for the good of the customers, the team members.

And, Bill was my first business coach. And I realized that as, you know, time went on and I’ve probably had 4 or 5 different business coaches in my career at different times for different needs, for different reasons to develop some piece of business and or develop my employees, my team, training, whether it’s financial coaching or whether it’s service coaching. We currently have active right now. I have 3 coaches working in the business. I have a sales coach managing our sales team, helping me hire a Sales Manager and hire another Salesperson. And then we have a company called BDR from Seattle, and we meet with them. I have both a financial coach for my controller and then a service coach for my service team, the team that manages my service. So, we use coaches all the time.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Thank you.

Liam Dempsey: Getting a quality BHVAC company out to the house or the business can be a challenge, or it certainly was anyway during the early days of COVID. We hear that it can still be a bit of a challenge now for BHVAC companies like yours, Bill, to find the right people to hire. What hiring challenges are you facing?

Bill Ronayne: You know, honestly, right now, we have a pretty good connection to trade schools if you will. 1 at the high school level through Chester County Intermediate Unit, and they call that the Technical College High School, TCHS. And I serve on their OAC committee, Occupational Advisory Committee. And I have for probably over 20 years. And we go out a couple of times during the year and meet with the administrators. We meet with the teachers. We talk about curriculum and what makes those students employable when they graduate from high school. On the back end of that, after they graduate high school, we also lead and or encourage those students to go out to Lancaster to another trade college called Thaddeus Stevens.

And I’ve since joined that OAC committee at Thaddeus Stevens as well. And so I spent a lot of time at those trade schools, and I spent time at Thaddeus Stevens talking to the teachers, talking to the students, and watching what’s going on. And with those, essentially, those two sources and the amount of time that we volunteer and spend there, we’ve been able to develop a relationship that allows us access to the students. And I find that those students have already made the commitment to the industry. They’ve decided this is where I want to be. I’m not trying to convince a kid working at the counter at McDonald’s that this is a good industry and that they should give up flipping hamburgers and come to Brandywine. You know, I have an opportunity to be in front of motivated young men and women that love what they’re doing and they want to continue the trade. So we provide that opportunity for them to work in a really high-quality environment.

Joe Casabona: So important. I didn’t even realize that there were, like, trade school-focused high schools. So it’s really cool to learn about that and the fact that you’re working with young people. And I’m sure part of that is enabled by your ability to grow your business, right, in over 30 years. So, how did you scale your business? Was it through acquisition, aggressive marketing, or something else?

Bill Ronayne: I’m just gonna call it steady growth. We did not do any aggressive acquisitions. There was one company, probably 20 years ago, a competitor in Downingtown who was struggling with his business and he came to work for me as my Service Manager. And we did acquire his customer list, but really not, it was not an aggressive acquisition. It was just, I was trying to help the guy out, and I needed a Service Manager, so we were helping each other. We don’t do a lot of aggressive marketing. Or when you look at his, marketing as a percentage of sales across the board and what the averages are across the country, we’re pretty low. We do a lot of, we do some social media advertising, but I don’t do any aggressive Internet advertising. I don’t buy any clicks on Google, and our web page is above the fold with organic content. So we’ve been very lucky with the links that we have to other websites, to other communities, to other groups, and what we do in the community, our community service helps keep our organic rankings high. And so we have really just worked on our steady growth in our referral business.

Liam Dempsey: We’ll come back to that community involvement because I definitely want to explore that a little bit more with you. But what I wanna get into now is technology. We’re tech enthusiasts on this show. Erik, Joe, and I, we all work in tech. Slightly different areas, but we’re all in it. We’re all kinda tech nerds. And we wonder, we were talking before, the 3 of us before you were here, Bill. We were wondering how technology and AI have affected the HVAC industry in recent years. What trends are you seeing today, and where do you expect the industry to be maybe in 5 or 10 years?

Bill Ronayne: Liam, that’s a good question. I wish I had that crystal ball.

Liam Dempsey: I do too. I would invest in whatever you told me though.

Bill Ronayne: The, I’m watching AI. I’m researching it. I’m looking at it. We have not tried to, we have not fully embraced it. I have not implemented anything with AI. I wanna learn how it will affect our business, our team members, and our customers, and I want it to be a positive way. It’s not something that we’re not, when something new comes out, we’re not the quick gotta get rich quick guys. We take our time sometimes to a fault. We take our time and embrace something and make sure it’s gonna be there for the long haul. So, AI, I gotta tell you, it’s pretty amazing stuff, and I’m not sure where it’s going or where, how it’s gonna affect us, but it, there are a lot of great technological advances in our industry, and certainly with AI on its way. For me, it’s a wait-and-see right now.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. And in that same vein, I mean, you’re right. There have been a lot of technological advances. Right? Like, cars are more computer than machines like a mechanical thing now. So, when we talk about like, technology and the types of circuit boards found in every basic furnace, how has that changed your workflow availability in changing? Right? I’m kind of thinking of that scene from Willy Wonka, right, where, like, the dad loses his job and then he becomes like a machine repair person. Right? So, how has technology affected your workflow, workforce availability, and training?

Bill Ronayne: Well, there’s no question that this industry has changed dramatically. When I first got in it, there was not a single circuit board in anything. The only circuit boards I ever saw were in what we call the transistor radio. You’re too young for it to know what that is, but they were the only circuit, printed circuit boards that we saw. But I will tell you now, if there’s not 1, 2, 3, or 4, there are 6 very complex motherboards, circuit boards, and variable speed controllers. I will tell you that personally, I am not qualified to go out and troubleshoot like I used to. But the young people today, men and women are they’re learning it. They’re growing up with it. They’re embracing it. And that’s what we need to do. I need to keep my people trained. And training is, you know, that’s our motto at the fire department is training never ends, and it never ends here at Brandywine either. If you don’t train weekly, or monthly, you’re gonna get left behind because it just, the information literally changes weekly, week to week.

Liam Dempsey: Yes. It does. And something else that’s changing is the weather. Right? We had a pretty mild weather winter here in Philly, and I suppose some days I’m pretty happy about that, and other days I wish we had more sun. But, now that it’s spring, I’m pretty happy it’s spring. I wonder if with the effects of climate change, at the very least on legislation, on political action, and probably in your industry as well, how is it adapting to that kind of change? I noticed on your website that you offer geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Bill Ronayne: Well, the climate change obviously is a very slow process. The news media certainly got everyone whipped into a frenzy about how we’re all gonna burn up in the sun here in another week or 2, but it’s not that crazy. It is definitely changing. There are differences in there in our climate, but people in this area, in this part of the county, in Pennsylvania still need heating in the winter and they need cooling in the summer. They may need a little more cooling than they used to and a little less heating. But in our industry and how we deliver our services really, the emergencies are just the same as they were 20 years ago or 30 years ago when I first got started. 

So, it’s climate change is something that we’re all very aware of. There are a lot of things that the government is doing to try to cut back on greenhouse gases and try to cut back on how our industry affects climate change in the atmosphere, and we adhere to all those rules and regulations and training and processes.

Geothermal is a, you know, that is a process where the sun stores its heat in the earth’s surface, and we use equipment to discharge the heat in the summertime back into that same shell, and we re-extract it in the wintertime. But geothermal is not new. I did my first geothermal heating and air conditioning system in 1978. And it’s been around since the 50’s, 60’s. It just wasn’t as popular as it is today. And with the federal tax credits and all the infrastructure changes, geothermal certainly gets a huge push in the news, but it’s not new. We’re a Waterfurnace Geo Pro dealer, which means we do extra training. We do extra troubleshooting. We take care of our customers. We are one of the premier geothermal heating and cooling companies in Chester County. And I’m proud of the work that my people do to maintain that level of expertise. But it’s not new technology. Not at all.

Joe Casabona: Well, it sounds like your mastery and continued education of that technology really helps. Social media can be an absolute nightmare for business. But we can see on your website that you have about 7800 or so reviews since June 2014. 96% of them, 5 stars. Two questions here. How do you manage negative reviews on social media, and how do you amass so many reviews in general? This is a question coming from 2 podcasters who want their listeners to rate and review this podcast.

Liam Dempsey: Pray tell. Pray tell.

Bill Ronayne: When I first was involved with social media, and, you know, I read a lot. I got that from my dad. My father taught me to read, read, read all you can. So reading magazines, reading things on the Internet. I learned that social media first has to be social. So if you’re gonna advertise your company, it has to be in a social way with friends. If you start pumping commercials out on social media, people are gonna shut you off. So, you know, I’ve learned that we need to be social first.

If we get a negative review, I take it head-on. If it’s a regular customer or somebody, I mean, we have all their contact information. If we’ve done something at their home or business and they’re not happy, pick the phone up and talk to them. Go see them. Call them. Send them an email, something, and just ask for forgiveness and say, hey. How do I make this right? What can I do to earn your business back? What, you know, apologize. And if they refuse and they just want to fight, well then we kind of back off. We’ll put a post under theirs or over theirs to say, hey look, we tried to reach out, we tried to be friends, you know, we’d still like to resolve it.

I think people who read reviews don’t expect everybody to be perfect all the time. And if you have a bad review, I think it’s how you respond, not how you react. And people will look at that bad review and go, that guy’s legit. He tried to do the right thing. And they, you know, there’s a lot of people that just love their keyboard and love to hide behind it. So we try to head, you know, get a hold of them right away and make it right. The fact that we have a lot of reviews, we have a third-party review system that after every installation we do, we send a customer an opportunity to do an online review, and it’s like 5 questions. It’s easy to fill out.

On the service side, after every service call that we do, and if we go to the same house 2 or 3 times in a month, we don’t send out 2 or 3 surveys.

Liam Dempsey: Thank you.

Bill Ronayne: So after 60 days, you know, if we haven’t been to your house in 60 days and we come out, after every service call, we send the customer an opportunity to go online and fill out a review. And, again, we try to make it easy and simple. A few things that we wanna know. And we have kept that up, and that company’s served us very well, the 3rd party. And if something does go wrong, that review comes right to my desk. And I get to deal with it right away with the right people and, you know, I don’t fix everything myself. I’ll pass it off to a team member or a salesperson or somebody who can deal with it immediately.

Liam Dempsey: But you get the negative reviews directly to your email or your text?

Bill Ronayne: I get all the reviews. I get every one of them, good and bad. And I’m happy when I see all those ones coming in that are 100%, 100%, 100%. And then all of a sudden, we’ll get one that has, like, 5 reviews and 4 of the 5 are 100%. One’s like an 87, and I go, oh, woah. What happened? But, now we, you know, you just have to pay attention to it. We’re not perfect. We don’t make, you know, we make mistakes.

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. I think that a big part of managing an online reputation is mistakes are human. Right? They are inevitable. Well, what happens when the mistake happens? Do we take ownership of it? Do we accept it? Do we try to make right? 

Bill, your company supports both the residential and the commercial side of HVAC needs. And I find that kind of daunting to dabble in two very, very different areas, but clearly, you’ve decided to do that. Why did you decide where to work on both sides of the coin? How does that help, or, is it sometimes more of a challenge?

Bill Ronayne: Sometimes it’s a challenge, but for the most part, they really complement each other. There are opportunities for referrals in both directions. You know, everybody that works at a commercial company has a house, and we’d like to service both. So it gives us an opportunity to market to both sides of it. And when I started working for Brewer Sheet Metal in 1974, Mister Brewer had his business was split 50% commercial and 50% residential. It was the way I was raised. I learned in that environment and I just always kept it that way. I just always thought it was smart when the economic climate is good for commercial, maybe residential’s off a little bit. I can shift my manpower. 

Now, I won’t tell you that every single commercial guy can work in houses and not every guy in houses wants to work in commercial. But for the most part, there’s a lot of synergies between the two departments, and there’s a lot of opportunity to learn from each other. So I just think it’s a, I think it’s a good split and it served us well, and we’ve maintained it through the years. I mean, it’ll drift 40, 60 every once in a while, one way or the other, but for the most part, since 93, it’s been 50/50.

Liam Dempsey: I’m curious if with your commercial clients who become residential clients, as you said, you know, all the people that work there have a place where they live. How often does that happen? And have you ever, I guess, you know, hit the situation where 75% of the company now become residential customers of your business? Because it strikes me as a natural fit, and if they trust you at work and then they trust you at home, they’re gonna, oh, well, you know, I use Bill and his team, and they did my house, and they fixed our air conditioning here.

Bill Ronayne: It’s funny. A lot of people think that we don’t do residential, and a lot of residential people don’t think we do commercial. But when they, when those 2 when it works together well, it’s actually quite, you know, I’ll meet people or see people and I go, you know, they go, oh, we use your company. I go, where where did you find out about us? And they go, well, they use, I know they are, the owner of our company uses you and so we trusted that if they made a good choice, it was a good choice for us as well. So, it is, and sometimes there’s no crossover. It’s really kind of, you know, strange sometimes that I have some companies I don’t have a single residential customer in. And other ones, they’re 75, 80%.

Joe Casabona: Wow. I have probably 400 follow-up questions, but, I wanna be mindful of your time, and I wanna get to this part of it, this part of our conversation because there’s a page on your company’s website focused on community involvement. And what impressed us about that was, not that you had a page like that, but that you have a detailed and up-to-date list of events, where you will be out and about in the community. On that same web page, you talked about, or you talk about taking a community-first approach to doing business. What does community first mean to you, and why is that approach such a priority to you?

Bill Ronayne: Well, the community supports us. I mean, that’s where my customers live, and everybody has different likes and dislikes and different and favorite activities in the community. And those organizations, those nonprofit organizations support our community. And it’s very important to my customers and to the community itself. So, we embrace that. I mean, I encourage all, everybody that works here at Brandywine to volunteer with Local league to, you know, Scouts to the YMC, whatever programs that they enjoy personally, we try to encourage them to volunteer and do that. I guess I learned that from my dad. He was a great community volunteer.

He was a photographer as a second job as he had a couple of other different jobs, but so when I was a kid, he took all the every team picture for all the Local leagues, all the years I played Little League Baseball, then soccer in high school, ice hockey in high school, and whether my brothers and sisters, he was the photographer for the whole league and did all of it as a volunteer. I never even thought twice about it. He would spend hours in the darkroom developing black and white pictures for the teen pictures for every child on the team to get a picture of the teen. And, he also worked, after we all grew up, he worked for West Whiteland Township as a historian taking pictures of buildings that were gonna be either destroyed or restored. He volunteered to take pictures in West Whiteland Township. And he did, he just volunteered his time. He was active in the county guard auxiliary as the training officer and then later as the commander, but it was a volunteer organization for boating safety. And he was a boater. He loved it, and he donated his time to keep the waterways safe in the Chesapeake Bay and the waterways around Philadelphia. 

So I learned that from my dad, and it pays back. I mean, every time you’re volunteering, every time you’re helping somebody, you’re talking about well what do you do? Well, what do you do? Well you know I get 5 more customers because of the baseball team or I play ice hockey. So I, you know, I got 20 or 30 guys on the ice hockey team that are my customers. So it’s a networking and an opportunity to talk to new people. 

We, I also serve on nonprofit boards. I served on the Powell board. I was president of the senior center board, the Chester County History Center. I’m currently on the Kenneth Symphony board. So I serve and,  volunteer my time on a lot of different nonprofit boards, not necessarily because I don’t have any musical ability on the Kenneth Symphony, but because I use my business acumen and my training as a manager, to help them with things that they deal with and on that board. So there’s always something you can do for a nonprofit.

Liam Dempsey: Agreed. And it sounds like you keep yourself pretty active in supporting your local community and your local nonprofits. But let me turn that around and ask a question of you is how can the local community support you? How can they support your business?

Bill Ronayne: They already have. I mean,  I’m pretty lucky. I think if you embrace the community, they will help and embrace you. The, to help me, I would suggest that help a nonprofit, help a volunteer fire company. I don’t know if you guys know, but in the West Chester in the borough of West Chester, all 3 fire companies are 100% volunteer. And the men and women that serve this community and the volunteer fire service are diehard professionals in what they do, and they do it for free. It’s really truly amazing, and they’re great people.

Joe Casabona: I can speak personally to that as my smoke alarm went off a few weeks ago. Didn’t know why. Had 3 small children and, the fire department. The folks who came to our house were just absolutely fantastic with my kids, checking everything, and making sure we were good to go. So, definitely appreciate their service and all the work of the great volunteers in Chester County. 

Now, I’m excited to turn the conversation to this question. Before we started recording, we talked about how you purchased a significant amount of HVAC inventory in 2023, so as to be able to keep your prices as low as possible for your customers in 2024. That really says a lot about your business that you’re able to purchase and store such inventory in advance of immediate need. Can you talk about why you made that purchase? Are there still supply chain challenges, or is there another competitive advantage to what you did?

Bill Ronayne: D, all the above. I mean, there’s a lot of reasons. I  did it first actually during COVID. I had an inkling there was gonna be a shortage, and we made a major purchase and it helped keep us, help our ability to take care of our customers during COVID. And at the end of that, I thought I saw another opportunity to, I thought there was gonna be another shortage or the shortage was gonna county, and that’s really not been the case. It’s the supply chain has really kind of loosened up quite a bit. So, we do have a lot of inventory and it does help us because we’ve slid past a couple of price increases that we don’t have to pass on to the customer. And that helps us be a little more marketable and a little more competitive in the marketplace.

So for selfish reasons, it was smart business. It was just a lucky guess. I’m not a genius. I didn’t. I can tell you that while we had talked about the amount of inventory, my warehouse manager wasn’t really happy when I bought that second truckload of equipment. Because, but they, you know, they’ll do whatever I ask them to. They found room. They deal with it. It was crowded down there in the warehouse.

Joe Casabona: Hopefully, a little less crowded now.

Bill Ronayne: everybody benefited. So all is well that ends well.

Joe Casabona: Awesome.

Liam Dempsey: So one of the things we like to do on this show is to take advantage of the expertise and the skill and, wisdom, if you will, business sense of the leaders that joined us on our show. And, you know, Bill, we’ve already shared that you’ve been running your own company for 30 years. That’s all. That’s a lot of years of keeping your business afloat. And I wanted to ask you what HVAC is. I’m gonna say it like Joe does because that’s easier now. What HVAC trends? They might be technology, supply niche, supply chain issues, or maybe changes to the legislation that might be coming down the line. What HVAC trends should our listeners know about either as workplace leaders or homeowners?

Bill Ronayne: Well, I think, continue to do preventative maintenance, take care of your equipment, make sure it’s checked by a professional twice a year, and really the basics. Just, you know, like our core values say, the number one thing, is always do the right thing. And, that’s really, to continue to keep your family and your business safe by taking care of your equipment and making sure that it gets serviced.

Joe Casabona: I love that. And that really is a good lead into my next question. When we bought our house several years ago, our HVAC was 30-plus years old. The guy who inspected the house said, this this machine doesn’t owe you anything. It could die tomorrow. And we did end up having to replace it, which was its own process, and we, you know, we spent a good amount of money on it. Well, just about everyone who owns a house has an HVAC, we suspect, If they’re anybody if they’re anything like me, many don’t know much about them. So how do you establish and instill trust in potential and current customers?

Bill Ronayne: It’s really about the relationship. We talk about this all the time. Everything that we do with our current customers and the nonprofits we serve, the community that we serve, we talk about all the time making sure that people trust you. And if you always do the right thing and work hard, you’ll keep customers for life, which is core value number 5, customers for life. It’s that repeat referral business, doing the right thing time after time, and making sure that you’re regular and you stay abreast of the latest trends in the industry to keep your customers safe.

Liam Dempsey: Bill, you shared with us that you have lived your entire life within 5 miles of where you grew up.

Bill Ronayne: That’s Yes.

Liam Dempsey: That is impressive, sir. That is impressive. It’s clear that from our conversation, not just today, but in the run-up to today, you and I had a conversation. You really love this local area, kinda comes through the way you talk about it, and the way you’re supporting your local community. But we know that this area does have a lot of transplants for all sorts of different reasons. To someone who is new to the area, what would you say is the best thing about owning and running a business in Chester County?

Bill Ronayne: There are a lot of new people that have come into the area, but I think behind that, there’s a lot of people that have lived their whole lives here. You know, we were very fortunate that Westchester University is a huge pool. We’ve had that over the years, thousands and thousands of people that came here to college and never left. And maybe they only came from New Jersey or maybe they came from Scranton or they came from Ohio, but they they never left. And, I think it speaks to the to the community feel, that Chester County is a great place to live. I think that the business acumen of the county itself, they’ve been very prudent with the way they take care of things at a county level. And I think that people should appreciate what they have here in Chester County. So, I think it’s really the basis of how strong the history is in this part of this county and in Westchester.

Joe Casabona: Well, I can definitely speak to that. And as an alum of the University of Scranton, I’m always happy to hear Scranton get a shout-out whenever it happens.

Bill Ronayne: I had no idea.

Joe Casabona: Bill, closing out here, can you name a local business or nonprofit that more folks should know about?

Bill Ronayne: I’m gonna again, talk about the fire department. I think the unsung heroes of our fire service here in Chester have the level of training and the expertise of our firefighters, both male and female, I think are, it’s unparalleled. We, part of what our fire department does is we have a rescue task force that interacts at a local level and also at a state level. And we’ve had incidents here in town, in this, in our borough, and we’ve had people from the Philadelphia Task Force 1 and from other parts of the state that are just totally amazed at the level of expertise that our fire departments, the Westchester Fire Department, Goshen Fire Company, the volunteers that serve this community. I just don’t think people that are transplants are from the area. I don’t think they realize just what level of expertise we have here in Westchester and Chester County. It’s really quite amazing.

Liam Dempsey: Yeah. I just wanna comment on that because I am a transplant. I’m originally from Illinois. And where I grew up in Illinois, all our fire rescue services were all municipal employees. So I was kinda surprised when I moved here and I heard, wait a minute. If I call 911, I get a bunch of volunteers on a truck. Wait. Really? Of course, living here for some period of time and having had PA occasions need to take advantage of the services, it’s a professional service in a lot of ways. I mean, not in a technical way, in the money way. But the folks, the men and the women that give of their time because they’re getting trained, they’re staffing the house. They’re keeping the equipment working. It’s a lot and it’s very, very professional. And I wanna just take a minute to just flag up that the Good Neighbor Day in Downingtown, it’s an annual run that a lot of folks take part of. That’s actually a fundraiser for fire and emergency rescue services in the Downingtown area school district. So all the fire teams, the rescue teams that serve the Downingtown area school district, which is outside of Westchester, admittedly, But that’s just one big fundraiser. It is not run by the township or by the borough or by the county. It’s run by volunteers to raise money to provide equipment and training and material for the folks that respond when we call 911.

Bill Ronayne: That is correct. And I have been, active in activities at Good Neighbor Day for many, many years. My son and I have the distinction of winning the recreational canoe race 1 year over there. And, but, yeah, we’ve run in the races over there and been involved with Good Neighbor Day for many years. It’s a great community event. And just, it is a good example and a good opportunity for the community to embrace the volunteers in West Bradford and Downingtown.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. So fun. And I mean, my kids love it. It’s a fun family event, and, it supports a great cause. So, I love that. Bill Ronayne, Founder and Owner of Brandywine Valley Heating and Air Conditioning, We are grateful for your time and the insight that you’ve shared with us. So before we wrap up this conversation, please tell us where folks can find you online and learn more about your business. 

Bill Ronayne: Okay. You can find us online very simply at [bvhvac.com]. That’s brandywinevalleyhvac.com. Or call our main number at 610-692 3900. And you can check our Facebook page at Brandywine Valley. Down in the valley, we provide comfort with care.

Liam Dempsey: I love it. I love it. Bill, thanks so much for joining us today. Always a pleasure to spend time with you.

Bill Ronayne: Thanks, Liam. Thanks, Joe.

Joe Casabona: Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Liam, for co-hosting this, with us today. Really appreciate it. Oh, man. Every episode, basically. If you want to get any of the links that we talked about, learn more about Bill, and join our mailing list. You can head over to [startlocal.co] or check the description wherever you’re listening to this podcast. 

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time. We’ll see you out there.

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