Jason Schlunt – Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air
- Written by: Neil Cote
- Produced by: Nick Randall
- Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Patience is both a virtue and a sound business practice, especially in the residential HVAC and plumbing construction industry. Building solid customer relationships takes time and requires providing honest, prompt and professional service, time and time again. It doesn’t matter how small the job, every customer and every home matters.
It is a tenet that CEO Jason Schlunt constantly reminds his teams about at Bellows Plumbing, Heating, & Air’s two locations serving the San Francisco Area’s South and North Bay. Prompt and professional service, whether it is unclogging a drain or tuning a furnace, is a cornerstone of the company’s service and installation business.
Call it Murphy’s Law or just the perils of homeownership; it is only a matter of time until Bellows’ customers encounter more pressing issues like replacing a broken water heater, changing out a malfunctioning furnace or air conditioner, or needing a new main sewer line. And when that happens, Bellows Plumbing, Heating, & Air is ready to help.
“We’re not just here to care for your leaky faucet today,” Schlunt tells Blueprint in November. “Our commitment is to care for you and your home for a lifetime. We want to be your one-stop shop for anything that breaks or needs upgrading in your home.”
Passing the Test of Time
Greg Bellows founded Bellows Plumbing, Heating & Air in Southern California in 1984. In its early years Bellows was a commercial plumbing installer for new retail businesses and restaurants throughout California and Hawaii.
The company as it exists today came to be in 2005 when Schlunt, Bellows’ son-in-law, came aboard. Together they moved operations to Santa Cruz and shifted from commercial to residential plumbing service. In 2010 they added HVAC service. It ended up being a smart move and a great partnership.
“Greg had so much technical know-how while I brought business and marketing experience. Together we were stronger,” Schlunt shares. “We really enjoy working together and being in the trades. It is incredibly rewarding to know we built this together by helping customers in their time of need.”
It took a lot of hard work and creativity to get Bellows off the ground in its early days. “Unlike all the tech companies in our backyard, we never got outside funding, we bootstrapped it,” Schlunt recalls. “We didn’t have funds to advertise when we started, so we’d drive our trucks back and forth on the freeway or park it on overpasses. Anything to get our name in public.”
All in the family
In 2014, Bellows’ daughter and Schlunt’s wife, Chelsea, joined the business, launching North Bay operations. Bellows’ wife, Colleen, joined in 2015, initially just covering for someone on maternity leave, but now leads the company’s retail partnership.
Together this family-run company is thriving. In the 13 years since the two men partnered and restructured the company, Bellows has added heating and air conditioning to its repertoire, expanded operations from Santa Cruz throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, opening an office in Marin County, and now employs a qualified and versatile staff of over 100.
Next up is adding electric to its service offerings and opening a physical office in San Jose where Bellows already serves hundreds of customers out of the Santa Cruz base. Customers whom Bellows is already proud to count as part of its happy, lifetime clientele.
“We receive so many wonderful emails, hand-written letters and positive online reviews from customers who say we are the only service company they trust in their home,” says Schlunt. “We treat each customer’s home like it is our home. Our customers feel it and the next time a plumbing or HVAC issue arises, we are the ones they call.”
The strategy of taking every job, no matter how small, and treating customers with such care, is clearly paying off. Bellows Plumbing, Heating, & Air has been named to Inc. Magazine’s Top 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies the last five years.
From that leaky faucet to a full home re-pipe, and from a furnace tune up to an entire HVAC system replacement, Bellows continues to grow one happy customer at a time.
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