Anthony Perera has expanded his company, Air Pros Residential and Commercial Air Conditioning Services, from one truck and two people in 2017 to more than 150 vehicles and a staff of roughly 200 today.
The hearty growth reflects Perera’s ambitious plans to make the Davie, Florida-based business the nation’s “best and most reliable HVAC company” and underscores his passion for brand building.
“Our goal is to have an office or a regional location within one hour of every major city in the country,” ideally within four or five years, the 32-year-old company president, founder and serial entrepreneur said. He plans to grow the business organically and through acquisitions and a new franchising operation.
Air Pros, growing about equally now internally and through acquisitions, has achieved a $50 million to $60 million run rate and aims to reach $100 million by next year, Perera said in a recent interview.
The company acquired four businesses in 2019 and recently added two more, part of the five to 10 deals Perera aims to make this year. While operating primarily in several Florida markets now, the firm has expanded to Texas, Colorado and Washington state.
Perera said he is actively pursuing targets and seeking opportunities to expand Air Pros’ footprint in multiple states, looking for businesses with good market presence and that fit well with the firm’s model and obsession with customer satisfaction. Deals can be total buyouts or management can stay on while Air Pros applies its marketing expertise to help them scale up.
Perera founded the company nearly three years ago with his father, who has spent decades in the air-conditioning field and serves as Air Pros’ sales manager.
While focused on making his company a major HVAC player, Perera considers himself a brand builder. “I get excited about building companies, building brands, marketing the brands,” he said. “I love it. I have a passion for it.”
At Air Pros, that means a strong customer focus backed by sophisticated marketing. “We invented the white glove guarantee in the HVAC trade,” said Perera, who described his company as being in the lead generation and customer service business.
He considers marketing crucial to a company’s growth. You can have the best sales people, he said, but without leads the company can’t grow.
Air Pros has relied on a variety of traditional and advanced methods to gain and keep customers, including direct marketing, outbound lead generation and eye-catching moves like wrapping vehicles in tiger stripes.
The firm engages in online and social media marketing, and leans on technology, including automated marketing, to communicate and engage with customers – confirming calls, letting them know when a technician will arrive and later sending offers, thank you messages and links to reviews – “keeping customers part of the Air Pros family,” Perera said.
The young founder gained branding experience with his first business, the off-roading publication Mud Life Magazine and its parent, Extreme Media Group. Leaving college before graduating to become an entrepreneur, he started the company at age 19 with $10,000 that was left from tuition money his grandfather had given him years earlier.
The magazine, eventually distributed through 15,000 stores across the country, developed an online media and retail presence, and Perera added off-roading festivals and events.
“We actually created a lifestyle brand,” said Perera, who sold the Mud Life operations to a media firm in 2011.
That same year, he founded the Cowboys Saloon bar and grill, which grew to several locations; he sold the company to a private equity firm in 2016.
As for Air Pros’ future, Perera said he likes what he’s doing, and while he hasn’t asked for equity partners yet, he’s not averse to the idea of outside investors.
“The lines of communicationare always open,” he said, “and we never turn a meeting down.”