The companies in Turnpoint Services group provide high-quality plumbing and HVAC services with little to no inventory.
By Staci Davidson, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Publishing
Turnpoint Services promises to “turn bad days into good ones” as a top provider of plumbing, HVAC and electrical services. The company is a private equity collection of local HVAC and plumbing firms in Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida, with eight brands currently under its umbrella. With high standards in place across the operation, the Turnpoint brands remain known for quality service. And these plumbing and HVAC businesses are able to maintain these standards with minimal inventory.
“We have very little inventory,” COO Tim Russell explains. “With most companies that we buy, if they do have an inventory, we work out of that and then have a replenishment model. The plumbing business has a standard truck and relationships with vendors for replenishment, and sometimes the vendors deliver right to the branch or the technicians go to the supply houses.”
He estimates Turnpoint businesses put in a new water heater for clients every four hours, so strong vendor partners have been key in maintaining its zero-inventory structure. Dauenhauer Plumbing, Heating & Air is one of Turnpoint’s brands; General Manager Ted Arena explains the operation runs smoothly, and the limited inventory is not an issue.
“We’ve been in business since 1958 and we are 24/7, so we don’t stop unless there is inclement weather like snow or ice,” Arena says. “In the month of July, our call center took in 5,911 calls and we answered 5,708 of them. About half of them were revenue jobs. We have just a little inventory: we keep 10 forty- and fifty-gallon gas water heaters, 10 sump pumps and a pallet of toilets because of a special we have on them.
“We have a great relationship with our vendors, and the main one, Master Supply, takes very good care of us,” he adds. “They are three minutes away from our shop, so they are our inventory. We do everything from repairing a faucet to installing plumbing in a new home, and we do some multifamily, commercial work, boilers and trenchless sewer pipelining.”
Center of Excellence
Turnpoint partners with businesses that have grown to a good size, but want to grow further and be part of the private equity world. “We work with the companies to implement our standards, look at the equipment, parts and materials they purchase, set up standard pricing with the vendor partners, implement the cap agreement we have with GM for trucks and vans and do the upfitting,” Russell explains.
“It’s like we act as a center of excellence,” he adds. “Turnpoint was established by a group of people who have created these standards because of our experience in the business. When we buy a company, we implement our best practices and learn what strengths they bring to the team. The dispatch and field functions are on a mobile platform that is common across all of the companies, and we have a common accounting system.”
Arena explains Dauenhauer couldn’t get into pipelining without the backing of Turnpoint because the expense was too large to do on its own as a single-owner operation, and banks aren’t usually comfortable with that either. Additionally, Turnpoint provided the business with greater buying power.
“If we need a truck, we can get a truck within three weeks, while before it would take at least three months,” Arena says. “Turnpoint helped us expand our business, made our benefits better and provided huge opportunities for employees to cross train or become managers.”
‘Building Our Own’
To maintain its high level of service, Turnpoint is focused on attracting more people to its workforce. About a year ago, the company established a plumbing school in Louisville, Ky., where it not only can help people establish plumbing careers, but it can train them to meet Turnpoint’s high standards.
“The students can be out of high school, out of the service or wherever, and we get them to the point where they can take their test. We do it all in house with classroom time and working in the field with a licensed plumber. The program takes about 10 to 16 weeks. We take people, train them in the Turnpoint way and then put them into the business.”
Arena explains the program’s students range from “no experience” to “more than some experience.” If any students come in with a good amount of experience, they will do on-the-job training with a veteran plumber, be evaluated with the Turnpoint system on iPads and practice communicating with customers. If students don’t possess this level of experience, they go through the apprentice program.
“The program has two different levels taught in three days and a fourth day of code class,” Arena says. “Vendors have donated fixtures for the classroom, and the classes are taught by two to three of our plumbers. The school has three practice kitchens, four bathrooms with commercial-style toilets, washing machine trainings, sump pumps and ejector pumps, and it’s like a home’s crawlspace, so the students can get to all of the plumbing underneath.
On average, about 10 to 12 people go through the program at a time, he notes, and so far, Turnpoint has only lost two students. One decided this career was not for him within the first week the other moved away. Turnpoint is proud that there is low turnover in its school and its overall workforce.
“A lot of companies do what we do, but what makes us different is that we partner with owners who have good brand equity in their market,” Russell says. We don’t rebrand our companies. We look for owners that have a good name, good customer service and are best-in-class in their market, All of the original owners are still with us today and are an important part of the collection of companies that make us Turnpoint. We just free them up to grow their teams and businesses.”