Ask Jamie Gerdsen what keeps him up at night, and he'll tell you, it's thinking about what else he can do to serve his members.
And by "members," he means "customers."
Apollo Heating & Cooling
At a company outing several years ago, Apollo employees discussed career experiences, different approaches Apollo had taken over the years, and how the company continually exceeded members' expectations. This session helped Gerdsen realize the impact of trust on the Apollo business. Trust was what kept members loyal to Apollo and willing to refer family and friends. Thus, the company's core purpose or 'heart' was born: To keep and get members for life, by being the trusted source in home mechanical repair in the world.
"Just like the Chamber, our core purpose reminds us daily why we do what we do. It is why the company leaders started Apollo and why we strive to be greater each and every day," says Gerdsen. "When thinking of moral obligations, being the trusted source answers the questions: What principles do I want to abide by every day? How are we, as a company, going to perform?"
The answers to these questions are guided by Apollo's core values or what embodies the soul of the company: Passion to Serve (why member satisfaction is at 98%), Thirst for Learning (why Apollo excels in technical ability and system processes) and Perfect Practice (why Apollo delivers excellent service consistently and has tripled its loyal member base in the past five years).
"The soul of Apollo requires we put emphasis on these three values that will be reflected in everything we do, including how we serve our members, how we interact with each other, and how we treat our vendors, employees, and strategic partners," says Gerdsen. With unwavering commitment to leading and living by its core values, Apollo hires only those who are deeply committed to living them.
Jamie and the membership model driven by Apollo's 'heart and soul' have the company pointed in a positive direction with younger customers.
"Previous generations would have a guy for this and another guy for that," he says, "but the under-35 generation places a high value on convenience. They appreciate that they can call one place rather than having to search out a specialist on their own for each service that they need."
That's why Apollo launched their plumbing services division. Members for years who trusted Apollo for their heating and cooling needs had been asking if they also did plumbing. In response, Gerdsen and his team developed a strategic plan for expansion that would not only preserve, but grow their reputation for excellence in additional services. The plumbing segment is growing and Apollo will hire four more plumbers by the end of this year. In addition to heating, cooling, and plumbing, they also offer insulation services.
"The majority of our business is generated organically through word-of-mouth," says Gerdsen, "Our future growth will depend on bringing even more value to customers. We will do that by helping our members find more ways to easily maintain their home mechanics while becoming energy efficient."
Jamie joined the company in 2002 after spending time away from Cincinnati working for a technology startup company. "I learned a lot from that experience from a business standpoint, but I wanted to raise my family in Cincinnati," he says, "And my dad (Jim) is absolutely my best friend. We've done everything together. He was the best man in my wedding. I love spending time with him. He's the reason I joined the business."
Jim is now retired from the company and no longer a stakeholder, but he continues to sit on the board and is Jamie's most trusted advisor. In spite of a rugged economy, the company continues to see growth year over year.
Gerdsen adds, "The Chamber provides a great way to save money on every day business expenses-and an excellent network for businesses to leverage for growth. But in order for it to work, you have to actually call and talk to other members. The more I get engaged with Chamber activities, the more I get out of it."
How has Chamber membership helped your business? Click here to share your story.