Terry Welnicke started his business for the same reason many other business people have, only not too many have grown as rapidly as Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services, Inc.
Welnicke was working for another heating contractor prior to 2000 when he decided he wanted more of a challenge, so he headed out on his own.
With the support of wife Dawn, he was a one-man business for that first year before hiring his first employee. “I was pretty excited with one,” Welnicke said from his office and shop near downtown Manitowoc which now employs 18 people.
The business just went through another growth spurt recently as it acquired the heating division of Reindl Plumbing and Heating of St. Nazianz. Fred and Janice Reindl will continue to serve their plumbing customers, but the acquisition strengthens Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services’ customer base in the greater Kiel area.
Welnicke is quick to identify the reason for his business’ growth, which included moving into its current shop in 2007. “Good employees—good, productive, motivated employees,” he said. “You need employees like that because I’m not seeing every customer.”
Do sheet metal work as well
That help included skilled sheet metal workers, a necessity for a growing heating business. Having employees with those skills and a shop with the proper equipment allows Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services to also provide sheet metal work to outside customers.
Along the way Welnicke also added two pretty special employees—brothers Travis and Troy. “I have brothers that work for me, but we treat everyone like family,” Terry said. An indicator of that is the fact that his first employee—Shawn Driscoll—is still with the business.
The primary service area for Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services is Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Calumet and Fond du Lac counties. Welnicke said he recognizes there are other good companies in the area which provide similar services, but he said there are attributes to Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services which allow it to excel.
“We have very reasonable rates,” he said. “I think we have great customer service. We do service all brands. We have a very, very large parts inventory here and in St. Nazianz. We have a quick response time.”
Dealer of brand names
Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services is a dealer in three well-known brands of furnaces—Rheem, Armstrong and Lennox—but Welnicke reiterated that they service all brands of heating and refrigeration equipment. Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services also bought out a heating and plumbing shop in Shoto about a year ago to further extend its reach.
Welnicke went to school for electrical power engineering. When he first started in the trade he primarily did service work on heating systems and air conditioning checks, but minimal installation work. But since many repair jobs require a service man to study original installation manuals and diagrams, Welnicke said he soon found his installation skills and confidence growing.
Between that and the addition of more skilled employees, Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services now does service and installation of heating and air conditioning systems for commercial customers, along with refrigeration installation and service for both residential and commercial customers. Duct cleaning, furnace clean-and-tunes, fireplace inspections, water heater inspections, fireplace insert and pellet stove installations are some of the other services provided by Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services. “We have a good size crew, so we can do a good size commercial project,” Welnicke said.
That crew got bigger with the acquisition of Reindl’s heating division as former Reindl employees Don Braatz and Jeff Kasten are now on the Manitowoc Heating & Refrigeration Services payroll. In addition to his HVAC Service certification, Braatz has more than 12 years of HVAC service and installation experience. Kasten is a sheet metal journeyman and has an associate degree in
Electro-mechanical Technology. Kasten Don Braatz (left) and Jeff Kasten take a break from working on a customer bid. They recently joined Manitowoc Heating after the company acquired the heating NazianzTurn to HVAC/page 39 A portion of Fred and Janice Reindl’s business in St. .