May 2012

BEATING THE HEAT: E.A.C. Heating & Air - A Breath of Fresh Air

Author: Peter Zink | Photographer: John Brackett

After an unusually mild winter, an earlier than usual spring is here to remind us that plants are blooming and the heat is here to stay for a few months. It’s not unusual to walk outside your home and find cars coated with light dustings of pollen or to feel the all too familiar Lowcountry humidity permeating the air. The morning jogs become a little tougher, and seasonal allergies kick into high gear again.

If you’re blaming the outdoor air for all your seasonal woes, you’re missing half the picture, or in some cases, nearly the whole picture. According to Patrick Epperson Jr. of E.A.C. Heating & Air, most people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, which means a lot of the seasonal respiratory and allergy issues experienced every year are a result of what’s happening right in your own home.

Fortunately, the folks at E.A.C. are no strangers to dealing with a challenging indoor air environment. Originally started in 1981, today E.A.C. Heating and Air is owned by Patrick, his father Pat Epperson Sr., and long-time business partner Martin Jones. Talking with the three of them in their climate controlled office, it’s clear these guys stay abreast of the latest technical trends and take their customer service seriously.

In fact, technology in the HVAC industry is changing so rapidly that the company incorporates weekly training meetings with their technicians. “Technology is changing daily, almost hourly, so we try to keep our team up to date with what’s going on. We try to get them involved in any classes offered by manufacturers and keep them on top of the game. That’s one of the reasons we’ve managed to stay busy in these tough times,” Martin said.

Breathing easier
One area where they’ve seen advancements during their time in business is indoor air filtration technology. “Indoor air quality is an issue that is growing every year for us,” Epperson Sr. said. In recent years they’ve been able to add filtration technology that can either be retrofitted on an old system or installed with a new system that can filter out particles as small as viruses like human and avian influenza. “When you think about it, a single strand of human hair is about 100 microns in size, and some of these filters we have will catch particles down to .3 microns in size—really, really small stuff,” Epperson Jr. said.

And for the amount of investment involved, the difference can be tremendous. “People buy nice cars for $40 to $60 thousand, but they don’t realize the benefits available for a lower price with our filters. You spend way more time at home than in your car. The best filter we have is only $1,500 dollars at most,” Epperson Jr. pointed out.

His father remembers how their filtration technology had a huge impact on one customer. “We had a customer one time that was going to move away from Hilton Head and go to Florida because there was so much pollen in the air. But after we installed a filter, they decided to stay here. It’s a big change.”

Customers for life
All three owners agree that offering the very latest in HVAC technology has been crucial in keeping up with their customers’ needs. Now more than ever, customers are aware of what the top of the line models are. “Customers want the best of the best now,” Martin said. “That’s the thing about the Internet. People are just getting more conscious of what’s available; they’re researching it and finding the bells and whistles that they really want.”

In response to their discerning clients, E.A.C. carries a wide range of high tech HVAC systems from Carrier, Trane, and other manufacturers. Modern units like the Carrier Infinity 20 with Greenspeed can easily cut utility costs by 50 percent or more a year. And judging by the feedback, E.A.C.’s Internet savvy customers have not been disappointed with the selection. Last year E.A.C. earned a 2011 Super Service Award from Angie’s List, a leading online review site for service providers.

But with over 54 companies listed in the Hargray pages, no amount of technology can substitute for service and dedicated customer support, and all three of them believe that’s why they’ve managed to be so successful over the past 31 years. “A huge portion of our clients come from referrals, and that’s helped us a lot,” Epperson Jr. said.

It’s easy to see why those referrals exist. If you’re heating or air conditioning goes out in the middle of the night, a simple call to E.A.C. will have a technician dispatched to your house to check it out, no matter what time of day. “We have 24/7 service call, and you’re not talking to a machine,” Martin said. “It’s a series of escalations, and our people know the procedures,” Epperson Sr. added.

In addition to 24/7 support, E.A.C. also offers a thorough semiannual service plan that includes air filter replacement, coil cleaning, blower adjustments, and a whole lot more. With today’s complicated systems, “people are just fooling themselves if they don’t have one,” Epperson Sr. said. Martin Jones likens it to “buying a new car and never changing the oil or rotating the tires.”

It’s clear that a thorough approach is key to their success. Where less established companies stop with a filter change and drain flush, E.A.C. does the extra work needed for a complete service. And when competitors install a unit and never return, E.A.C. comes back with comfort specialists to verify their technicians’ work. “It’s all about quality assurance,” Epperson Sr. said.

With constantly evolving technology, a variety of projects, and ever-expanding referrals, none of the men will be calling it quits soon. “This job is a lot about helping people,” Epperson Jr. said. “They tend to come to you when they are in distress for the most part; if you can do a good job, make them happy and exceed their expectations, that’s a very satisfying experience.”

To schedule an appointment with E.A.C Heating & Air, visit their offices just beyond the traffic circle at 76A Beach City Rd, or give them a call at (843) 681-3999. For more information, visit eacair.com.

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