Podcast: Mike Cappuccio Welcomes Mike Gundersen of Compass Heating and Air Conditioning

Mike Gundersen and Mike Cappuccio Dominate Ductless Podcast

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Mike Cappuccio: So welcome to the Dominate Ductless podcast, where we tell the stories of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses that are focused on ductless heat pumps.

I’m Mike Cappuccio, the owner of Dominate Ductless, and I’m truly excited today to have a longtime friend and business owner, Mike Gundersen from Compass Heating and Air, and he is in East Dundee, Illinois.

And I think I had pronounced that Mike right properly.

So, Mike, tell the audience a little bit about yourself and your company and what are your day-to-day roles there?

Mike Gundersen: Okay. Yeah. So my, as far as myself, a little background, my wife and I were both in the Air Force for a number of years.

We got out and decided to move to Illinois, where she was from and near the Chicago area.

We’re in the western suburbs, so we worked for several companies up here doing heating and air conditioning, and we decided to go out on our own.

That was in officially January 1st, 2012.

So we’re in our 13th year of business currently.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of the schedule, but, yeah, when we got into the business doing heating and air conditioning on our own, it was a pretty good, good step for us.

But we decided early on, probably within the first year, ductless was pretty awesome. Little.

It was a nice feature.

It had a lot of nice benefits to it, but it wasn’t really all that popular here in the Midwest.

And so we kind of went on a journey of expanding and learning a lot more about the equipment and the benefits of that, both as a, you know, as a comfort for our customers and as…

Cappuccio: What are your day-to-day roles, Mike?

What do you do?

What do you, what do you do?

I know, I know as owners of H, as, as a former owner of an HVAC company, I know that’s kind of a loaded question.

So, yeah, I’ll let you elaborate on that one.

Gundersen: Right now, a lot of people, a lot of it is people managing, and that’s the, that’s for sure.

But as far as the different things we do that I do in the business, a lot of it does have to do with the sales side of things, and we don’t have an official sales team, if you will.

We all kind of work in the field as far as my technicians and myself, and we all offer solutions for our customers, but some of the ones, multi zone systems and VRV systems, as those I typically do.

Compass Heating And Air Elgin IL

Cappuccio: Okay, so, Mike, about how long have we known each other and where did we first meet?

Gundersen: So as far as knowing, I think we’re actually going on about ten years be knowing of your business just a little bit longer than that.

We actually had attended a conference, I believe it was in Downers Grove, Illinois.

Cappuccio: Wow, that was a long time ago.

Gundersen: It was like 2013, 2014 I want to say.

And then shortly thereafter I went to a Mitsubishi dealer conference, and you were there talking in one of the breakout sessions as well.

Yeah. And then I’ve attended a couple of your things that actually with regard to trainings, you had one in Schaumburg at the Mitsubishi Training Center.

That was a dealer roundtable.

That’s the first one I’d heard of something like that.

And that’s when you really went into a lot of things on how you ran your business. Introduced….

Cappuccio: Was that a two-day? Was that a two-day or a one-day?

Gundersen: It was a two-day class.

Dominate Ductless Downer's Grove

Advancements in Ductless Technology Provide Whole Home Solutions

Cappuccio: That was a two-day class.

Okay. Yes, that was started to get into the two-day class and we were actually doing the round table.

So that kind of leads me into your next, my next question here is,

I guess, I guess I would ask it this way, is how is the Dominate Ductless training helped your company, you know, becoming one of the major names recognized in your area for installing, I guess.

What, what did, what did you get out of that training that actually, you know, made you that person?

Gundersen: Well, I think, you know, by the time we had attended the two day training, I was very excited about the products. You know, at the time with heat pumps it was mostly going to be the ductless. And of course as you know, they have ductless, ducted, that sort of thing all under the same envelope, you know. So I explained it to my customers.

Cappuccio: A lot of different products in today’s days now. So a lot of different products.

Gundersen: And you know, with the Hyper Heat[ing] systems that Mitsubishi [Electric] has, you know, initially it was just single zone.

Once they went to multi-zone as a man, this is something that could be everything that we do, you know, that was the initial idea.

So we wanted to learn as much as we could and be in a younger company at the time.

Learning from folks who had done something like that was definitely very significant in how we started running businesses or running our business.

You know, your program kind of broke down everything, you know, from the size of the warehouse you would need based on your volume and pricing and, you know, your profit per million day, all that stuff.

It was all things that you don’t really hear a whole lot right away as a new business. So it was very beneficial.

I think the biggest thing for us was just implementing things that we learned and running with it from marketing to, you know, just making sure that everyone knew that this is what we do really made a world of difference.

Sharing a Blueprint for Ductless Mini-Split Growth

Cappuccio: You really tried to make your people aware of that.

Hey, we’re heat pump installer, the database, and that’s what we really talk about in the marketing side of it.

And I think that’s, that’s really cool to hear that someone actually went back and did markeing, because a lot of times I do these training sessions and after, you know, I always tell people, don’t boil the ocean when we’re doing the training is to try and take two or three topics that you think you can really go back and implement.

And, you know, I saw some of the journeys that you were going on as you were doing that, and I could see the marketing starting to happen and doing that. I mean, do you get, do you get heat pump leads on a regular basis now?

Gundersen: Yes, all the time.

As a matter of fact, I had one yesterday afternoon.

They called in looking specifically for a heat pump system, and it was ductless, Mitsubishi ductless, they were looking for.

And they got us from the dealer locator, actually, and called us directly.

She said she’d gone to our website and it looks like we were the only people who really knew what we were doing, which I do hear that a lot. I kind of chuckle a little bit about it, but it’s something that we worked with our marketing folks as well for a number of years.

As a matter of fact, I want to say that I contacted him after that initial two-day dealer, that roundtable you had for dealers in Schaumburg.

Education About Ductless on Contractor’s Website is Key to Success

Cappuccio: Yeah.

Because there’s nothing worse than when someone goes from a dealer locator to an actual website to go look at what they’re trying to purchase. And there’s nothing on the dealer’s website about that.

And that was a huge part of my focus, too, when I owned my company was, you know what people would always say? It looks like you’re the guys who do what I’m looking to have done.

And when people don’t have that, it’s really not a good thing.

I mean, I think me personally, I would bail out and go to the next website and try and figure out, okay, who does what I’m looking to do.

And when you — when you implement that, that’s really, really good that you’ve done that, I guess, you know, what if, Mike, if I asked you this question is, can you hit on a couple of real.

If you were to take away in what we did in that training, the two biggest things that you took away from there that really and truly help compass, heating and air.

When you, when you left, like two, two real things that you really said, wow, I didn’t get this. Or, you know, what were the two high-level topics? I guess I would say.

Compass Heating and Air Conditioning Mitsubishi Platform

Midwest Homeowners Were Hesitant to Adopt Heat Pump Technology

Gundersen: As far as topics, I would say was, you know, creating the ability to create a funnel and keep in contact with customers who are interested in products who have reached out.

And I would say the marketing was a very big one.

A lot of people have the belief that marketing is not necessary.

You just have word of mouth and that sounds kind of crazy to me.

But I think that especially with something that was at that time, you look back at 2011, 2012, 13, it wasn’t that well known here.

You know, there weren’t any rebates available that were not amounted to much, I should say.

A lot of people didn’t know what the product was.

Even inspectors would come out and be like, I don’t even know what I’m looking at. It was kind of crazy.

You know, I grew up out on the West Coast, up in Oregon and, you know, the West Coast, the East Coast, it was just crazy with how much ductless was going on and heat pumps in general.

You know, up in, when I was in Oregon, everything was electric.

You know, we have power generation with the hydro dams and things like that.

So PG&E and all that.

You had a ton of electricity.

So having a heat pump made a lot of sense.

It was a lot less expensive to run.

But here in the Midwest, we always joke around.

My wife when we first moved up here, she’s like, you’re going to see people who have haircuts.

Like it was, you’re still in the eighties, you know, like it just as a joke, it was, you know, it just seems like you’re about ten years behind on some of the technological things that people want to adapt.

Ten Years Later Ductless Has Traction

Cappuccio: It’s really funny because I can remember back, God, I want to say it was around that ten-year mark and I had gone out to Downers Grove and I, and I remember that the Chicago team, that Midwest business, that, that, you know, that central business unit was actually saying to me that this Chicago area has no traction.

It just, ductless just, it is a herding area.

Just can’t get it off the ground.

Heat pumps, it’s just not, not moving in the right direction.

And boy, it’s amazing now that what, I mean, I was in, I was out in Chicago, I want to say, two or three weeks ago and did a two-day training class and it was amazing.

Now at what’s actually changed out there where, you know, where you get some contractors involved in it and it know, has started to pick up. I always say it kind of comes from the coasts in from the west coast, like you’re saying Oregon, California, and the east coast and the northeast.

And it just kind of comes across the country and kind of starts to get into the middle of the country now because it’s amazing at some of these areas how they just did not take off in, you know, the first, I’m going to say 10 years or 15 years of the heat pump adoption.

It just wasn’t, wasn’t accepted. And now it’s really becoming accepted.

When I go to Dallas and I go to Austin and places like that now and I look at the contractors that are actually jumping on board now and doing it, it’s amazing.

So I think it’s, and I don’t think it’s going to stop here. I think it’s just going to keep rolling and rolling and rolling forward.

So I guess in closing, Mike, in what we’re talking about here, if you had a recommendation for other contractors around the country to get onto the heat pump wagon, what would that be? What would you tell other contractors?

Successful Contractors Use Ductless Heat Pumps Themselves

Gundersen: I mean, what, so I would say the number one thing that I would tell people who are looking at getting, you know, if you want to talk to people about heat pumps, you should have a heat pump in your home.

You’re going to see how they work. You’re going to see how awesome they work. The comfort level is unmatched by any furnace.

And so it’s, I think that’s the biggest thing because that’s really the contractor adopting the idea that heat pumps do work, especially in the Midwest.

That’s the number one thing I still hear now is like, well, do pee pumps even work in our area?

You know, and everyone always thinks where they’re at is in the most harsh weather ever, you know? So here in, in the northern Illinois area, that’s, they believe that they’re about the coldest in the country.

Cappuccio: Getting them to believe.

Getting them to believe, you know, I can remember doing the same thing in my own house. Now that you say that.

I adopt, I guess I had to adopt it myself to see if it worked properly.

Could sell it to somebody else.

Ductless Heat Pumps are a “Solution Sale”

Gundersen: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, I think that’s the biggest thing is you, you believing in what it is that you have.

Not just, it’s not just us selling for us. I’m not trying to sell anybody anything.

It’s not a matter of boxes.

It’s a matter of solving solution, solving problems that they have in their, their home, and they can see how well it does do it.

Selecting the right product for what the customer wants, both aesthetically and the way that it performs in their home.

So I think that’s, that would probably be the number one thing as far as, you know, being able to be on board with heat pumps in general.

I mean, we’re well over.

I think we’re hitting the 95% mark is what we have as far as the percentage of our businesses. Heat pump specifically, whether it’s ducted or ductless.

And I think once you believe in it, it is something that you want everyone to have the same thing.

You see, if you see someone who doesn’t have a heat pump, you almost feel sorry for them that they missed out on that opportunity.

You’re going to have that piece of equipment for, you know, 20 plus years.

It’s Possible to Build a Business Around Heat Pumps

Cappuccio: So actually, in closing, you’re telling me that you can actually have a heat pump business and it can be done.

When everybody says, just be in the heat pump business, it’s not going to work, you won’t be able to do it and it can be done.

So you did replicate it sounds to me like what I had had in Boston when I had my business.

That’s, that’s amazing. I love to hear a story when someone actually did what I did and replicated off of it, because everyone says that I’m crazy sometimes when I go do these trainings.

Gundersen: And it was when we did our stuff, it was, we replicated Cappuccio all the time. Hey, and now we even have a showroom as well. So we have a showroom we use for training.

And we also have people come in and they can see the, the showroom, you can see how heat pumps work, what it feels like, the air coming out, how quiet they are.

Cappuccio: Yeah.

Gundersen: You know, we have ductless, ducted cold weather, you know, everything so that people can see, you know, it’s kind of funny with what the heat.

Cappuccio: That’s a whole another story now.

When I contractors building showrooms around the country now, and I mean, I’m into using them for different things and being able to get people in, but, you know, that’s.

I’m so glad to hear that.

I mean, I love hearing success stories of people who actually listened in and did it.

So again, Mike, look, I want to thank you today for joining the Dominate Ductless podcast, where we tell the stories of these entrepreneurs who are building their businesses, but that are totally focused on ductless heat pumps.

So keep, keep the ductless heat pump bandwagon rolling, Mike, and thanks and have a great day!

Gundersen: Right. Thank you very much, Mike!