Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Legacy

When I was 13 years old my father started Stanfield Air Systems. He moved his family to a city he had never lived or worked in to start a brand new business in a field he knew little about. For capital, he used his life savings and a line of credit. It was not until many years later when I had my own family that I truly understood the courage it took for my parents to do this. He gave up a secure job with a major corporation that had just offered him a promotion. He was one of a class of businessmen recruited to start air conditioning dealerships. After five years, he was the only one of his class still in business. Stanfield Air Systems survived major builders declaring bankruptcy and not paying, strikes by compressor manufacturers when equipment was hard to get, and more than one economic downturn. Because of dad’s pioneering spirit, Stanfield Air Systems has frequently been in the vanguard of new or unique technology. We put in solar systems in the late 70s and water source heat pumps in the 80s. Some of the more unusual equipment we installed included Space Pack high velocity systems, Amana EG units, and Arkla Servel absorption chillers. People around Athens learned that if you wanted to do something out of the ordinary and be successful, you wanted dad’s company to do it. One thing that has stayed constant is a commitment to quality. He sold himself and his company, not any particular brand and certainly not price. His price was usually higher than the competition, but he offered services and quality not available elsewhere.

I have a brother and a sister, and we all work in the air conditioning field. My sister now runs Stanfield Air Systems and they are doing great. They remain the company people who insist on quality turn to. I am especially proud of the pictures in my book that came from Stanfield Air Systems showing what a good installation looks like. My brother is a top service technician – for the competition. He has customers that call and ask for him by name because he has the same commitment to quality service and honesty as our father. And I teach air conditioning at Athens Technical College. I am proud to say that many of the technicians at Stanfield Air Systems graduated from Athens Tech. For that matter, so did many of the technicians at competing companies. In Athens Georgia, if someone comes to your house to install or service heating and air conditioning equipment, there is a pretty good chance that they are a Stanfield, work for a Stanfield, or were taught by a Stanfield. My father’s legacy includes a legion of air conditioning professionals and three children who are proud to call him dad. I know my recent success started in 1968 when a courageous entrepreneur put everything on the line to start a new company in a new town. Happy father’s day dad!

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