Nordic Mechanical Services Ltd.: Control Systems for Charities

John Cloutier, president of Nordic Mechanical Services Ltd. (NMS), understands the value of patience and perseverance. In 1994 Cloutier began NMS as a cold-start company, which afforded him the luxury of one technician, one administrative staff member and one service truck. Today, the company garners $20 million in annual revenue, employs 80 seasoned field maintenance and in-house personnel and boasts a fleet of 50 trucks.

Despite the company’s success, Cloutier has never forgotten his roots. As the son of a dairy farmer and the fifth of 10 children, he experienced the satisfaction of a hard day’s work done alongside one’s family. This combination of team spirit and passionate determination for the task at hand is one of the many reasons that Cloutier’s NMS won the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration (ACHR) News magazine’s award for Best Contractor to Work For in 2009.

The Edmonton, Alberta-based company has been supporting and assisting the local community’s mechanical maintenance and HVAC needs for years. The company is especially involved in helping charitable institutions in addition to performing the majority of its work in hospitals, churches and facilities geared toward the less fortunate.

Reaching Out and Giving Back

Some of NMS’ primary contracts are with a variety of associations, including Edmonton’s Youth Emergency Shelter, the Alberta Diabetes Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as well several local YMCA’s and homeless shelters. “We do all the work for the YMCA’s, which is always interesting,” Cloutier explains. NMS recently finished replacing all automation controls at five YMCA facilities in the Edmonton area, which was an involved and detail-oriented process.

The team at NMS executed maintenance on all air handling systems and mechanical systems in each of the buildings. The company’s technical staff soon realized that all of the existing HVAC equipment needed to be retrofitted. Some contracting companies might see the situation as a complication, but NMS saw it as an opportunity.

The company applied itself to the task right away, while still performing all aspects of work on the rest of the buildings, including the steam room controls. As the maintenance work continued, NMS saw fit to manage controls for all the pools’ and hot tubs’ full temperature, pH, oxidation reduction potential and total dissolved solids. However, the company’s services didn’t end there.

Several of the facilities’ existing control systems were in poor condition, while others were outright failing. NMS replaced each of these automation systems with a brand new, fully integrated TAC Xenta System, which incorporated a 100-percent programmable TAC LonMark device that could be integrated with other LonMark systems over time.

LonMark is one of the top global manufacturers of control systems, including full building automation, HVAC, lighting and security to name a few. NMS makes it a priority to use high-tech products in all the company’s work, thus being able to supply each client with technologically advanced systems that will save money.

“Our company’s goal is preserving capital for business owners and reducing their operating costs,” Cloutier declares. The end result at each of Edmonton’s YMCA facilities is that all of the buildings’ systems have been integrated and simplified into one complete platform, which makes managing, adjusting and troubleshooting far easier than before. NMS utilized both the existing equipment and the field staff’s experience to increase the comfort level of both YMCA patrons and employees.

Taking Care of Customers and Employees

NMS also has magnanimous projects in the works for several community churches, including Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Sherwood Park Alliance Church and Strathcona Christian Academy. Many of the facilities require a fair amount of NMS’s trademark tender love and care, especially with regards to the ventilation systems. The company will be evaluating and upgrading the air conditioning and exhaust fans, as well as the furnaces for these facilities.

NMS’ dedicated field technicians prepare for any eventuality, especially on vintage or period buildings with outdated HVAC systems. Cloutier ascertains that no stone will be left unturned on any of these notable projects, and all filters and belts will be assessed and attended to on all of its church contracts.

The team’s eminent ability to locate and resolve potential control system issues is what has won NMS’ marketplace recognition, as well as a 97-percent customer retention rate. The in-house staff and field crews have also been lauded with awards for exemplary performance in the contracting industry.

The company won the Thermo Automation Canada (TA Canada) Automation Distributor of the Year Award, as well as the 2002 Small Business of the Year Award from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. Cloutier is quick to credit his team for each of these trophies, and is adamant that a business’ major investment should be in its employees.

“As business leaders we fear if we train our people they might leave, but what happens if we don’t train them and they stay?” Cloutier was quoted as saying in an ACHR News article in 2009. Cloutier’s belief in both his company and staff has not changed since that time, and NMS has retained as many employees as it has customers. In order to show the great level of appreciation and gratitude Cloutier has for his team, the NMS staff is often invited to participate in company parties, trips, sports tournaments and luncheons.

Cloutier intends to keep the company family-owned and -operated, and plans to appoint his son, Rene, to the presidency when the time is right. The company’s philosophy of placing people first and giving back to community have made NMS indispensable in the Alberta HVAC and mechanical industry. Nordic Mechanical Services Ltd. will continue a legacy of efficiency and compassion, along the way providing the charitable institutions of Edmonton with the highest levels of comfort and air quality.