HVACR Service Spotlight highlights a New York City area company that has taken extraordinary steps to support their customers and their employees during the pandemic. We share their stories to inspire other service organizations, help job candidates choose the organization they want to work for, and help potential customers choose the best New York HVAC and Refrigeration service companies for their needs.
Tomco Mechanical faced a pandemic dilemma
Tomco Mechanical handles Refrigeration and HVAC service for 150 supermarket locations across the New York City metro area. Tomco prides itself on being a family-oriented company with a supportive culture that places a high value on working as a team.
When the pandemic hit in mid-March and New York City effectively shut down overnight, Tomco Mechanical’s leaders had to make some quick decisions.
On one hand, they realized that their customers were all essential businesses that needed to continue to operate without disruptions from Refrigeration equipment breakdowns. Their customers were relying on Tomco to keep their systems up and running. Not to mention the residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who were relying on the supermarkets for access to fresh food.
On the other hand, keeping their employees safe and healthy had always been a top priority for Tomco, and taking action to ensure that was more important than ever during a pandemic. Tomco had key workers who had significant health risks, including one technician who was expecting a child.
Tomco’s leaders realized they faced several challenges:
- Continuing to provide the fast response and dependable service their customers needed, with a reduced workforce
- Finding the necessary PPE to keep their employees safe, at a time when items like masks and hand sanitizer were in short supply
- Helping every employee to keep their medical benefits
How Tomco Mechanical took care of employees during the pandemic
Early on, when even emergency work ground to a halt, Tomco kept all technicians on the payroll with enough hours to keep their union medical benefits. (The company also provided laptops so office staff could continue working at home.)
However, demand for service quickly jumped to normal levels as supermarkets were swamped with customers and their systems worked hard to keep up with demand.
Some of Tomco’s field service technicians had health issues that made it too risky for them to work during the height of the pandemic. Tomco’s technical staff immediately pitched in and took on additional work and risk to allow those people to stay home and stay safe.
Another critical issue at this time was finding enough PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep employees safe. At the time, masks were sold out everywhere, and hand sanitizer was also difficult to find. So Tomco’s employees (and their families) took action to keep everyone safe. A supervisor found a recipe for making hand sanitizer and produced bottles for everyone. And the supervisor’s wife sewed masks for everyone. Technicians looked for hand sanitizer and gloves wherever they could find them, and Tomco created a supply at the shop that was distributed by supervisors.
John Martinelli, co-owner of Tomco Mechanical, and the company’s office manager were the only employees who went into the office every day. They received parts, took customer calls and assigned jobs. John also held twice-daily Zoom meetings with his field supervisors to discuss issues, make plans, and brainstorm solutions. They wanted to keep all the techs informed and give them a forum to voice concerns. So the supervisors would bring questions from the techs to discuss during the Zoom calls.
Supporting employees allows Tomco to better serve their customers
Tomco understands that prioritizing the needs of employees actually helps them to provide the best possible service to their customers.
For example, early on in the pandemic, Tomco decided to postpone preventative maintenance work and focus only on emergency repairs. That decision was made to lighten the load on a reduced workforce. But at the same time, that meant the company could continue to provide the quick response times that their customers urgently needed to keep their equipment up and running at this critical time while keeping their techs as safe as possible.
Also, Tomco’s efforts to procure PPE helped to keep their customers safe along with their employees. Supermarket employees, who were already putting themselves at risk to serve the public, were grateful for that.
John Martinelli says that the supportive, team-focused culture the company has built has a direct impact on customer satisfaction.
“When people feel supported, they’re not afraid to speak up and ask for help when they encounter a problem on a job or something they haven’t seen before,” said John. “Other technicians, and especially their immediate supervisors, are happy to offer guidance, ideas, and advice. We’re all here to help each other out. So problems get solved quickly on the first service call. That’s a great customer experience and it’s why we have been serving many of our customers for decades.”
About Tomco Mechanical
Tomco Mechanical is a Refrigeration and HVAC service provider located in Westbury, NY. They serve supermarkets in New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey, with a team of 40 technicians. The company has been in business for 50 years.