Feeling the heat: Business not cooling anytime soon for area HVAC companies

Trevor Edis, a technician at Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Carson City, works on an AC unit on Wednesday, June 9.

Trevor Edis, a technician at Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Carson City, works on an AC unit on Wednesday, June 9. Courtesy Photo

Each spring, when temperatures in Northern Nevada run mild, heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors usually see a slowdown in business as homeowners dial back the usage of their HVAC units.

Then summer hits and their phones light up.

Last year, however, many HVAC companies saw the summertime-like spike in inquiries sooner than usual — with people cooped up at home due to a novel virus proven to be transmitted through the air, suddenly air quality was fresh in the minds of homeowners.

Sierra Air Inc. has seen an increase in demand for all of its services — from air conditioning repair and installation to HVAC maintenance to duct cleaning, said Rickey Hayes, marketing manager at the Reno-based company.

“With people spending more time in their homes, people are more concerned about the air quality that they breath,” Hayes told the NNBW. “And with the coronavirus going around, that really affected people’s thought patterns about their indoor air quality and how good the quality of air they were breathing.

“So, it’s been really, really busy.”


Busy, indeed. Hayes said Sierra Air had a “banner year” in 2020, noting the company’s revenue grew a whopping 26.5% compared to 2019. The company figured a tailwind of sales would last a few months early in the pandemic, but it didn’t anticipate the surge carrying through the rest of 2020 and into this year.

“We expected minimal growth — maybe 6% — if any,” Hayes said. “But we started picking up last May and then had a really strong summer … and it just continued through the rest of the year.”

In this 2018 photo, a Sierra Air Inc. employee uses a forklift to move around a shipment of new air conditioning units inside the HVAC company’s warehouse in Reno.


Along with repair requests, Hayes said Sierra Air has seen a significant increase in calls for new equipment. This, he said, is due to the fact that, 20 years ago, Northern Nevada experienced a housing boom — and those HVAC systems are on their last legs.

“All of those furnaces and ACs are turning 15 to 20 years old and that’s about the lifespan of a furnace,” he explained. “So, we’re seeing a boom from that — it plays a pretty large role.”

So much so that Sierra Air had to hire more technicians to meet the demand, said Hayes, adding that their team grew by about 4%.

This time of year, the company has nearly 150 technicians and a total of about 70 vehicles roving around greater Reno-Sparks for residential and commercial services.


Meanwhile in Carson City, Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning is also sending out technicians more frequently than ever, said owner Dirk Roper.

How much of it is because of the fear of COVID-19 and people taking extra measures? Roper said he isn’t sure. He does feel, however, that homeowners’ extended stays inside has stoked demand, especially for those who joined the work-from-home movement and realized their HVAC systems were lacking.

“I theorize, at least in part, it’s because people are spending a lot more time at home and they realize how uncomfortable their homes are when they’re trying to work there all day long without air conditioning or whatever,” said Roper, whose company saw a 7% boost in revenue in 2020. “So, we’ve been adding air conditioning and upgrading air conditioning. We’ve been very busy trying to keep up with the demand that’s out there.”

Demand has only cranked up for Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning and Sierra Air after May brought multiple 80-degree days and the first week pf June ushered in a string of mid-90s scorchers in Northern Nevada. With temps in the upper-‘90s forecast through mid-June, both Hayes and Roper don’t see business cooling anytime soon.

“If somebody calls, we’re booked out a week and a half,” Hayes said of Sierra Air. “It’s a blessing and a burden. We’re at a point now where I’m turning down marketing opportunities because I don’t know if we’ve got the infrastructure to handle even more.”

Meanwhile, Roper said his company is seeing “double digit” growth in 2021, adding: “So far, it’s turning out to be a blockbuster year.”


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