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Phoenix Mechanical

Everyone has something to contribute

Matthew Narvaiz
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 4/9/20

There’s no such thing as a “normal day” at Phoenix Mechanical.

“It’s always a wild mix of activities here,” Draper says, “from fixing Mrs. Jones’ faucet to bidding out a $1 million mechanical job. You never quite know what’s next, but we are always ready for whatever comes through the door.”

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SPONSORED CONTENT

Phoenix Mechanical

Everyone has something to contribute

Posted

There’s no such thing as a “normal day” at Phoenix Mechanical.

That’s why owner Bob Draper is in the office early, sifting through work orders and invoices, and helping Johnny Martinez make assignments to Phoenix’s field technicians for the upcoming day of work.

“It’s always a wild mix of activities here,” Draper says, “from fixing Mrs. Jones’ faucet to bidding out a $1 million mechanical job. You never quite know what’s next, but we are always ready for whatever comes through the door.”

Phoenix Mechanical can handle most any job that any structure requires. The company has technicians licensed in natural gas, electrical, plumbing and sheet metal — all the mechanical systems that keep a building operating for its occupants.

So an important task for Draper and company is matching up jobs with the abilities of technicians and their assistants. Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., all of the 16 lead men come to the “roundtable” in the office at 1217 Gusdorf and talk about the day’s work.

Draper pores over a master sheet that lists ongoing and upcoming jobs, with notes on progress and what’s needed. Service Manager Celia Sturgis shows him a few invoices and messages from the previous day: “Celia spends all day talking with us and techs. She’s the one that plugs leaks and rights the ship.”

Around the round table, a conversation ensues on how a job is going, what parts have been ordered, any issues with installation and what equipment needs to be packed up for the job. They constantly balance the field tech’s expertise, the cost of materials and the time — including the customer’s deadlines — necessary to get the job done right.

A well needs a new pump, but it has to be fit to the systems within the house. The heat’s gone out in a rental in Questa; the tech loads a variety of sizes of pipe and pumps in order to be sure to have what is needed for the repairs. Another field tech is finishing up a job at Cimarron schools and has time to stop in Angel Fire to repair a furnace.

“The master sheet has all our previous jobs listed, and keeps them from falling through the cracks,” says Draper.

Laid out on the table are green-and-white tickets with the details of new jobs. As each technician comes by, Draper, Martinez, and Sturgis find out if they have time for another project and, if so, hand over a ticket for the technician to handle — always with an eye toward what a particular field tech is licensed to handle.

“We try to fit the job and situation to the tech’s ability,” says Martinez. “For instance, last week we had really heavy winds that knocked out a lot of circuit boards. We sent techs who we were confident knew what to do.”

Not only are field techs licensed in one or more areas of expertise, they all have had to become versed in electronics, starting with their phones.

“I can tell you, the iPhone is critical to our work now,” says Martinez. “A tech can send a photo of a circuit board or equipment, and he can get a diagnosis back to keep the job moving. It’s real-time problem solving.”

The technologies of remote diagnosis and communication have exploded, and Phoenix Mechanical techs are on top of them from the simple to the complex. “Smart systems” are now common in commercial buildings, with more and more found in residential structures.

These remote sensing devices can now detect issues with hot water heaters, lawn sprinklers, water well pumps — anything mechanical in the home. Not only do those smart systems have their finger on all the mechanics of a house, they also can send a signal to the homeowner and Phoenix Mechanical that something is amiss. This is especially beneficial for the second homes that have proliferated in Taos.

“The internet has allowed us to diagnose some problems from afar,” explains Draper.

As the field techs pack up their red Phoenix Mechanical trucks and head out, Draper turns his attention to estimating. There’s been a flurry of plans for commercial projects around the Taos area lately — a staple of Phoenix Mechanical business. Recently completed jobs include the downtown UNM-Taos campus at Bataan Hall, the RV park in Angel Fire and SMU’s Student Center in Pot Creek.

As the day goes on and field techs come back through the office to pick up parts or get another job, Sturgis tends to the phones and walk-ins, and Draper heads out in his Phoenix Mechanical Toyota to check out a new job.

“This is definitely not a top-down operation,” says Draper. “Everyone has something to contribute that will make us better that next day. It’s critical that we keep our lines of communication open throughout the company. We want people to learn, from their experiences and from others.”

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