Interview With Air Controls Billing GM – Chris Schaff

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Business

Q1: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Answer: Air Control is a family owned Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigerator, and Stainless Contractor. We provide service Installations (New & Retrofit). Also service restaurant equipments. We are located in Billings have a normal 150 mile service radius. Licensed in MT, WY, IB, UT, NB, SB, CO. Opened up Jan. 1972.

Q2: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Answer: Went into Navy out of high school. Once out of Navy went to Refrigeration Tech School in Phoenix. Graduated 8 month course. Went to work in Bozeman as service tech. Moved to billings in 2002, became GM of Air Control Billings. Air Controls received family business award in 2012 from MSU Business School.

Q3: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Answer: I took over a well established business my father started. I have kicked in new blood & desire to smartly grow. We have almost double in size since 2002 when I took over. I brought new life and we have great employee base with now blood.

Q4: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Answer: Advise

  • Get and retain good people.
  • Nothing more important than Good Service.
  • Empower your people, use their talent to help you grow and get things completed, Dont Mico Manage.

Q5: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Answer: 3 Skills

  • Listen to your employees, Utilize their talents.
  • Listen to your customers.
  • Think out of box (I call it Stay out of the Rut).

Q6: How many hours do you work a day on average?
Answer: 9 – 10 hours a day.

Q7: To what do you most attribute your success?
Answer: Great Leader and PR person of the company.

Q8: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Answer: I just started to Market US. Smart Growth. Wanted to make sure we had good team ready for potential growth.

Q9: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Answer: Original Investment from Grandma from 5000 in 1972. Many days went without pay!

Q10: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Answer: Long term success is achieved through great Employee’s and smart sense of business.

Q11: Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Answer: I predict we will be one of largest HVAC Company in our region, Service and Installation.

Q12: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Answer: Walmart. They amaze me on efficiencies. Also local McDonalds owner. Very smart and know proper business!

Q13: How important have good employees been to your success?
Answer: Good employees are 100% needed.

Q14: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Answer: Usually I stick with idea, but some I have failed within a year because of timing or bad way to move company.

Q15: What motivates you?
Answer: My motivation is fixing problems, and 100% good service. I hate bad service.

Q16: How do you generate new ideas?
Answer: New idea’s come from a peer group “The Unified Group” same type of company with similar issue.

Q17: How do you define success?
Answer: Success is being better than average.

Q18: How do you build a successful customer base?
Answer: Customers come and stay because of service!

Q19: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Answer: Most satisfy moments are from return and repeated business with customers.

Q20: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Answer: Some people just want to be a worker, not an owner. Owners like the challenge of multitasking. Owner must think and take care of just more than themselves.

Q21: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Answer: Our culture is family based. Whether it is own or companies. We have a “Can do” attitude also.

Q22: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Answer: Energized.

Q23: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Answer: I would learn more accounting. How to understand the books and financial side

Q24: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Answer: My family is well taken care of, but also understand the business also comes first.

Q25: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Answer: My greatest fear is being in the “Rut”. Do my best to be different.

Q26: How did you decide on the location for your business?
Answer: My father’s hometown (And mine)

Q27: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Answer: I think things fails because they don’t change with time & markets. When you use focus of service it will also kill your business. I don’t think it takes a special person, just need the want to attitude!

Q28: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Answer: My Grandpa Schaff. Died before I was born. I just wanted to know how he taught work ethics to the Schaff family.

Q29: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Answer: My greatest inspiration is my family. To provide and protect me.

Q30: What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Answer: Book? Made in America (San Walton Biography)

Q31: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Answer: I’ve under bid Jobs, Made mistakes when bidding. Tried competing in wrong market.

Q32:  How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Answer: I check my dollar with sqft numbers. Look for bad patterns.

Q33: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Answer: Love too shoot Pistol and Rifle. Also love old corvettes.

Q34:  What makes you happy?
Answer: Money in the bank and providing solution to customers and making sure my employees have direction.

Q35: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Answer: Work extra hour, no bonus, company is in good shape. My dad made the scarifies.

Q36: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Answer: I’ m terrible at asking at asking questions Hatta!

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