Spears Refrigeration, Arlington, TX, is a small company in a big state. Soon, like everything else in Texas, the company will be much bigger.

Company founder and owner Max Spears founded Spears Refrigeration in 1994 after nine years of experience working for other employers.

He started in the industry at age 19, working on hotel refrigeration and air conditioning systems for Flagship Inn. He then worked as a staff maintenance technician for a major restaurant chain. After a corporate-wide layoff, the chain retained Spears to oversee refrigeration and air conditioning maintenance for more than 30 of its restaurants in North Texas. Other clients include stores in the Joe's Crab Shack®; McDonald's®; 99¢ Only stores; Olé Mexican Foods; Sonic®; and KFC® chains; and businesses serving the real estate development, pet supplies, and office supplies markets.

Spears Refrigeration services a 60-mile radius surrounding the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. About 80% of Spears Refrigeration's business is built on commercial refrigeration and air conditioning; 20% of revenue comes from residential air conditioning service and installation.

For 2008, Spears topped the highly-prized $1 million mark. His plans for 2009: double it. Towards that end, he's remodeling a newly-acquired, 5,300 sq. ft. facility. Improvements will include streamlined, computer-assisted technical support, and an expanded sales department.

Spears employs seven technicians. Himself and four others have earned North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification.

Spears requires his technicians to take at least four manufacturer-based courses per year, and attend weekly, in-house ‘Tech Talks.’ Subjects include ice machines; reach-in freezers; soft serve ice cream and slush machines; R-410A certification; and air conditioning service.

Spears puts a high priority on establishing trust with customers. For new customers, technicians perform a thorough review of any ongoing issues and obtain current product information of existing systems. To introduce the company to prospects, Spears has compiled a DVD with streaming video, to provide a look at the company's installation and service projects.

New and existing customers want energy solutions. “For the most part they're looking to us for new ideas and new ways to cut their energy bills, which have doubled or tripled over the last 10 years,” Spears says. Product innovations the company has implemented include InterLink's Smart Defrost Kit, which predicts frost accumulation on the evaporator coil and determines whether or not a defrost is required.

Spears Refrigeration's team includes service manager Randell Newton, and sales manager David Schlemeyer.

Spears' advice to owners of small refrigeration businesses: Get organized! Learn to let go so you can manage the business and not let the business manage you.

“When I started out I was running into brick walls, because I was wearing too many hats. I was selling, installing, and servicing. It was hard to let go of everything,” Spears recalls. “You've got to let go, and get your people properly trained so they think and work the way you do. Then, they're better equipped to help you manage the issues you face as a business owner.”