Back in 1996 Oliver Heating & Cooling had about 55 employees. The number of residential contracts had increased but we faced a new challenge. Delmarva Power & Light, the large utility company to our south, formed Conectiv, a services and contracting business, and began buying up HVAC companies. They purchased 22 companies in our area, including competitors bigger than Oliver like the Haley Company and John Cameron & Sons. Delmarva also wanted to buy us.
I had no intention of selling because the Lord had started our company, but I felt that I should present the option to our associates just to see how they felt about it. We called a company meeting. Using an overhead projector, I displayed a picture of David and Goliath. Explaining the situation I said, “We can do one of two things. We can sell and join the utility giant or remain, by default, the largest independent HVAC company in our area.” Unanimously, everyone expressed interest in remaining independent. Bill McVean approached me after the meeting and said, “We can do it. Let’s just stick together. We can take them!” Such confidence from a young up-and-coming technician was uplifting to me.
As you know, Bill’s comment was prophetic – in a couple of years the utility called us and asked us to stop hiring their skilled people who were applying to Oliver. I thought the huge company was joking – but they told me that they were serious – we really were a threat to them. Eventually, the utility sold all the companies that they had purchased. Today Bill is the manager of our much larger and still growing Residential Service Department. If we continue to work together as a team and exceed our customer expectations, we need not fear the future.
– Joe Oliver, Founder & Chairman Emeritus of Oliver Heating & Cooling