Practicing – and Managing
– to Be the Best.
How does a one-man residential and commercial AC company eventually become a home services juggernaut while keeping it all in the family? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice!
Of course, “practice” takes on a slightly different meaning when your job isn’t just to perform, but lead. And that’s exactly what the Hobaica brothers – Mike, Paul Jr., and Lou – have done every day as they continue to lead the company their father started toward new, record-setting achievements.
Their stage? The homes of thousands of residential service customers throughout the Phoenix area. Day after day, night after night, weekend after weekend, Hobaica Services continues to hit all the right notes.
From Proud Beginnings.
Hobaica Services was founded by Paul Sr., a first-generation American citizen who came to Phoenix from Syria in the early 1920’s at the tender of age of six months old. After serving his country in World War II, Paul purchased and managed several apartment buildings, but his defining career moment came when he took refrigeration and business classes as a prelude to launching Hobaica’s Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, a business he started in his garage serving a largely small commercial clientele. The year was 1952
After setting and sustaining the tone for outstanding customer service, technical excellence, and surrounding himself with the best available talent, Paul sold the business to his sons in 1990. They, in turn, changed the name to Hobaica Services to better reflect the company’s growing diversification. With “Own the Home” as one of its guiding principles, Hobaica Services today offers heating, cooling, plumbing, sewer and drain, electrical, plus wine cellar installation, maintenance, and repair services.
Now with 50 employees and $17.5 million in annual sales, Hobaica Services may not look much like the company launched by Paul Sr. 71 years ago. At least not until you take a closer look.
The Stuff Success is Made Of
Lou Hobaica, company CEO and COO, said that winning the Contractor of the Year award created a keen sense of accomplishment among their employees. “It reminded us that hard work really does pay. Plus, it’s always nice being recognized for your achievements.”
In 2022, Hobaica Services beat its own previous record by grossing $375 thousand per employee in sales. Two more milestones were eclipsed that year when they closed the books with a 27% increase in sales and a 32% increase in net profit. As for 2023, Hobaica Services is on track to reach or exceed their annual growth objective of 15% with a 30% net profit.
According to Lou, numbers like that aren’t possible without maximizing the customer experience. “Our goal is to make it a great one, every time,” he adds, “and likability is the key ingredient. Once a customer likes us, they will trust us, buy from us, only use us and refer us to everyone they know…that is our secret to success!”
Branding by the Numbers
Lou credits much of his company’s success to branding and marketing, both of which he spearheads in his role as operations manager. “There are 42,000 total electrical, plumbing, and HVAC contractors throughout the Phoenix area,” he says. “That’s a lot of competition, but we can’t worry about them. Instead, we make it a point to be the company homeowners think of first when they need one of our services.
“Success stems from people seeing us – our technicians, trucks, billboards, postcards, valve tags, yard signs, promotional products, and so on – not less than 100 times a year. That kind of branding is more essential to company growth than a ‘2 for 1’ sale,” Lou adds.
“Billboards are for the Birds!”
Hobaica Services billboards feature brothers Mike, Paul Jr., and Lou on extenders – that part of a billboard that “extends” above the top portion of the rectangular surface. In the beginning, everything came up roses, branding wise, until pigeons started targeting the cutout heads when their tummies growled.
What to do, what to do, Lou thought…lose the extenders or top them off with something other than human heads? “Well,” he reasoned some years ago, “since pigeons aren’t going to poop on other pigeons, we decided to crown ourselves with one pigeon each. Since then, real birds have left us alone. And now, pigeons are an essential part of our brand.
So is the company’s slogan. As Lou puts it, “We are the most likable people you’ll ever meet…You’ll lika…Hobaica..”
Lou, an original “investing founder” of what is now Service Nation, says he continues to gain a great deal from networking with his fellow association members. He’s also a trainer and a Premier Alliance coach, heading up weekly meetings of the AB 12 and AB 20 groups.
Congratulations once again to Hobaica Services on being named the Service Nation 2022 Contractor of the Year. It’s impossible not to lika what you guys are doing.