Go where the people are. That seems to be the approach at Manheim Township-based Haller Enterprises Inc.
The Chester County property makes five branches for Haller, which also has service facilities in Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.
The Business Journal spoke with company President John Michel last week to discuss the impact of the expansion and company priorities in its current fiscal year, which began in October.
Haller reported $44.8 million in 2012 revenue, according to Business Journal records. Other than 2009 and 2010, where the company posted $36.6 million each year, it has been above $40 million since 2008.
Q: Earlier this year, Haller opened a new branch in Chester County. You're located in five counties now. Was that always the plan, go where the population is growing the most?
A: We've always had our sights on Chester County. Over the years, business has pulled us down into that direction. Some of it has followed some of the new construction we've done, (while) some has just been a natural move down that way.
How has that new facility helped grow the business?
It's worked out well for us. We had a core base of customers there from our residential service side and our residential replacement side. Being there, we thought, was very important so we could service them well and continue to grow new customers in that area.
We've also (been) pleasant(ly) surprise(d) on the commercial new construction side, having many projects in that area with apartments and some work with universities with student housing.
Since we've moved into the area, we've seen much greater growth as we've concentrated on getting our name out. We've been successful in hiring Haller employees that now live in the Chester County region.
Where are you seeing the most growth — commercial or residential — and why?
We've seen nice growth throughout the company this year, both on the services side and on our construction side. We've seen a slight increase in new homes.
On the commercial construction side, we've seen a lot of growth in multifamily, both apartments and a lot in student housing. Some of that is in Lancaster county, (while) a lot has been in Chester County. We've also had some up in the Harrisburg area, both apartments and student housing.
We've been down at West Chester University. We work around York College and some of the Penn State branch campuses in the area, like down in Abington and the Penn State Harrisburg campus.
What's been the biggest change in your industry, or trend, over the last two or three years? How has the company adjusted?
I'd say probably the biggest thing is the shift with multifamily on the construction side. There seems to be growth on the apartment side. We've also seen college campuses continue to grow the housing choices for college students.
On the services side, we've continued to see people maintaining systems so they can maximize efficiency as heating and air conditioning costs are a bigger part of budgets.
We've seen some growth in home automation, where people can control from their mobile phone or iPad the lighting and heating in their house, maybe a security system. Maybe they want to keep an eye on an elderly person or a child coming home from school.
Last year, the company acquired Wired Home Automation Services. How has that help diversify service offerings?
It's been good. We try to be that one solution for all your home's mechanical systems. It's just another service we can provide, whether it's in building a new home and somebody wants to set the lighting to different levels or automatically be able to view what's going on in their home. Or if they want to do it as part of a remodel, we're able to help them with all different types of services, down to some audiovisual type applications.
Where do you expect to finish the year on revenue, and what will be your focus in 2014 — more organic growth or growth through acquisition?
Our motto is responsible growth in all of our core areas. We're very focused on continuing to grow on things we feel we have a niche in. That's in the new homes and multifamily commercial applications. Another key focus is to grow each of our branch locations, which is more on the services side.
We've had very nice growth on our commercial services and replacement side. We're getting into everything from light industrial to office locations, so that's a main growth area.
We're in the 315 range currently (for number of employees). We see adding HVAC technicians, plumbing technicians and electrical technicians going into this year. There is just such a need in the trades. We'll look to add another 20 to 30 tradesmen this year.
More about John Michel
President of the company since February 2011, Michel joined Haller Enterprises Inc. in 2005 as vice president of its services division.
Prior to Haller, he was a general manager with Petroleum Heat and Power, which is based in Connecticut. He spent 10 years overseeing all operational, sales, accounting and credit departments in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey divisions.
Michel graduated from Penn State in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in communications.
The 48-year-old lives in Ephrata Township. He is married with two children, ages 19 and 17.