There’s an old Greek proverb that says “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
So when Mark DeVries, who worked alone as a local HVAC & plumbing contractor in nearby Bakersfield, would bring his 5-year-old son Jason along with him to jobsites, little did he know he was helping to build a great team.
Or at least the idea of it.
Maybe Jason didn’t understand the difference between a capacitor and condenser. But what he learned on days with dad became far more valuable – and the basis of what smart72 stands for.
In 2002, Jason started his first business, a commercial-focused HVAC company, with his brother Mark Jr in Bakersfield.
The team served all parts of California. DeVries, who has his pilot’s license, would fly to distant jobsites himself. The team grew to 130 workers. Life was good.
Then the 2008 recession happened.
With business falling on tough times, DeVries bought a small, four-man San Luis Obispo residential outfit in 2009 that would become affiliated with a large residential home services contracting company.
In 2015, he spun the unit off to its own brand, smart72, which emphasizes building intelligent teams and workforce to give its customers the most efficient and informed experience possible.
“smart72 represents the ideal comfort level of your home,” said DeVries, who added that many potential customers misconceive the company for a national brand instead of the smaller, 70-person operation it truly is.
Just like his experiences as a child, DeVries understands the value of learning and observing. Education is a major part of turning journeymen into lifelong professionals. This ideology became the vision behind smart72U, where prospective technicians learn the basics of HVAC installation to better serve the community.
“It’s always been about building teams,” said DeVries. “Blue collar workers are disappearing from the workforce. Trying to hire experienced techs is nearly impossible.”
Additionally, already experienced techs can learn advanced techniques in an ever-changing industry.
“New techs need to learn about smart thermostats, connectivity to devices, how blower motors are now all electronically controlled and need to be installed differently. There’s always new technology and regulations to keep up with.”
DeVries investment in workforce has paid off handsomely, as his company has grown 15-20% each year since launching smart72 in 2015. However, the biggest payoff is watching the cycle of growth from amateur to successful professional – just as his father before him surely has.
“The most rewarding thing for me is when a young guy or girl comes from a job as a restaurant server or something,” he said. “And then they go through the program. People coming in living paycheck to paycheck. And now they can afford to buy a home. When you see that transition happen.”