Among the meaningful ways that acknowledge a person’s dedication to a cause, is to have an award started in their name. This happened to Pat Rucker.

Rucker founded Entech Sales & Service of Dallas, TX in 1981, as a four-person commercial and industrial service business. Today, the company’s many building-related services include building automation, security, electrical service, lighting control, HVAC and power rentals, as well as engineering and construction services. 

Rucker was also a co-founder — along with Robert Owens of The Owens Companies, Bloomington, MN and Fred Delein of Colorado Chiller Maintenance, Littleton, CO — in forming the Chiller Systems Group (CSG), as a way to provide idea sharing and information to independent chiller contractors.

The award I mentioned is The Pat Rucker Award. It’s given each year to a deserving CSG member who has shown outstanding dedication to the group and the industry. Rucker was the first winner of the award, which was started by other members of the CSG without his knowledge.

This month, he’s a winner again, as the editors of induct Pat Rucker into the Contracting Hall of Fame, in recognition of a lifetime of achievement and contributions to the betterment of the commercial HVAC industry.

John Owens, son of Robert Owens and president and CEO of the Owens Companies, became acquainted with Pat Rucker in the mid-1990s, during a tumultuous time in the commercial chiller world. Mandated phaseouts of refrigerants were forcing chiller contractors to perform increasing numbers of chiller conversions. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that some manufacturers weren’t playing fair when it came to providing information, parts, and pricing needed to complete the conversions.

Rucker took the lead in demanding that one such manufacturer, Trane Commercial, provide independent chiller contractors equal access to parts and information, and fair pricing for conversion kits. The case was settled out of court.

“Pat was the driving force in the lawsuit,” Owens recalls. “He had a passion for the independent contractor, but this was also his way of standing up for the customer, to make sure the customer got the best, fairest deal.”

Owens praises Rucker for his strengths as a businessman of integrity, tenacity, and professionalism. “He’s built a great company in Dallas. He’s competitive, and is always thinking about what’s best for his customers. That’s his hallmark,” Owens says. And he's equally impressed by the cooperation Rucker and others have fostered within the Chiller Systems Group.

“It’s something to see, how the technical experts from the various companies within the CSG share information around the country. Or, if someone needs a large, expensive part, another member who has the part will say, 'give me the serial number. If I have it, I’ll ship it out today,'" Owens says.

Scott Tracy, president, Chiller Systems Service, Lakewood, CO, met Rucker in 1996 after joining CSG. He says Rucker’s positive influence on Entech’s employees is evident throughout the firm.

“I’ve never met anyone from Entech who isn’t focused, and able to help with anything,” Tracy says.

He adds that Rucker’s main contributions to the Chiller Systems Group today are as a mentor who keeps the CSG’s purpose on track: sharing chiller service information that will raise the level of expertise for its 140 members.

Tracy admires Rucker’s “walk around” style of management he follows at Entech. He visits with people throughout the company during the day to see what needs to be tweaked, what could be improved. “That’s a big reason Entech is so successful. He’s built an incredible organization in Dallas,” he says.

Bruce Long, Entech vice president, agrees that Rucker’s ability to guide others in following best practices is a major sign of his influence.

“I started with Pat around 1982 as a young technician,” Long says. “There was a handful of employees at Entech, and it didn’t take long for him to become my mentor. He was both street smart and business smart. He taught me how to take care of customers and make a fair profit.

“What was most impressive was how he treated the field techs,” Long states. “After a particularly long and hard day, he would show up at the job and take all of us to the best steakhouse in town, and even have them valet park our van. The way he treated you made you want to work harder and harder for him. His example of how to treat people has everything to do with Entech’s success.”

“As far as his leadership for Entech and the CSG, he’s like the bulldog,” Long says. “Afraid of nothing and always willing to take on a fight for a good cause. As hard as Pat seems sometimes, he truly cares about his people and his causes, and will do anything for you. He is a good person and good friend and truly belongs in the Hall of Fame.”

It is for these and many other reasons that we at believe Pat Rucker is so deserving of this recognition.

Congratulations to Pat Rucker as he enters the Hall of Fame.