At $1,560, it wasn't The Brewer-Garrett Co.'s biggest expenditure, but symbolically, it was one of the most important. The money covered a shortfall between the amount Joseph's engineers calculated the Berea City School System would save with the installation of a new HVAC system and the actual savings.
That the difference was the result of an increase in technology at the school and not in any mistake on the company's part didn't matter. Joseph stuck to the promise.
With millions of dollars in guarantees in the past two years, it's the only check of its kind Joseph expects to sign.
"When they buy Brewer-Garrett, they're guaranteed two things. You get that energy savings, but more importantly, we guarantee performance. We guarantee the job," says Joseph, president and CEO of the 41-year-old Middleburg Heights-based commercial and industrial mechanical systems and services firm and 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year winner.
Those savings are guaranteed because Brewer-Garrett completes all the work in-house, including tracking energy usage.
"When you have those capabilities, you can afford to guarantee, to stick your neck out," Joseph says. "We have done the calculation. We are not involved in guesswork or taking a dart and whipping it at the board and say, 'We can save you 4 percent.' We look very, very hard at all the components that we're putting in a new facility."
Joseph's company has completed a number of installations and makes some pretty bold promises, including a savings of $250,000 a year for an eight-building project for Cuyahoga County. The 10-year guarantee will save the county at least $2.5 million. And though he does not expect it to be the case, if his system doesn't live up to the promise, Joseph's ready to sign another check.
Brewer-Garrett also installed a new system in Winterhurst Ice Rink in Lakewood before the National Championships there in February. Joseph's engineers promised an annual energy savings of $74,124. Before the company's involvement, Winterhurst spent $358,700 each year. After the project, the cost dropped $93,222 to $265,478, a 26 percent savings.
"Not only has the Brewer-Garrett project saved us significant energy dollars, but having instantaneous control of the rink environment has allowed us to enhance the skating experience for all of our patrons, from Olympic champions to MITE hockey players," says David McGuirk, Lakewood's Public Works Director.
"Winterhurst is a good example," Joseph says. "(The question became) how much can we save with a new state-of-the-art ice rink vs. an old high-energy user type system? We looked at the customer and said, 'We are so confident that this works that we could guarantee you that you will save X amount per year.'"
The amount of savings is very important for another reason as well, Joseph explains. Whenever possible, the company likes to make projects self-funding -- so that the energy and operational savings pay for the renovation. That was the case for Winterhurst Ice Rink.
The quotes tend to be "extremely accurate," Joseph says. "We take a very conservative approach. And when I say conservative in nature, we want our customers to exceed the energy savings. So not only do they win, they win big."
A few national companies will make similar guarantees, Joseph says, but they can't offer the same level of precision because they farm out some of the work.
"We're a full service contractor and we do soup to nuts programs," he says. "We don't broker the work; we do the work. We do all the mechanical; we design it. We do the engineering, we do the sheet metal, we do the piping. We stay with that job. We do the service. We do all the controls. It's very unique."We want a relationship with our customer, a long-term relationship," he says. "If you've done one job for a customer, you've done something wrong." How to reach: The Brewer-Garrett Co., (800) 686-6869 or www.brewer-garrett.com
Daniel G. Jacobs (email@example.com) is senior editor of SBN.