Dallas Daily Times

Delaware’s Business Owner: Creativity & Innovation in the HVAC Industry: Keith D. Clarke


Strategic business operation requires creativity. When a company is dealing with rising expenses, a competitive job market, or a struggling economy, a creative solution is needed to keep the business growing and profitable.

Keith D. Clarke’s creativity in his business endeavors has served him well throughout his career, but particularly over the past few years. The construction industry has had a particularly difficult time, with supply chain issues and labor shortages causing delays and cost increases for essential building supplies like lumber and steel.

Many construction companies have been forced to close, or lay off employees, but Keith D. Clarke has kept Noland Mechanical from following suit by focusing company efforts on projects in sectors that have remained profitable. For example, construction of residential homes hit a snag during the pandemic as a result of exorbitantly expensive lumber costs. 

Government-subsidized housing, however, was accelerated in priority. This meant that Noland Mechanical could focus on a project that would allow them continued operation and profit while also doing an act of service for local communities– a win for everyone!

Noland Mechanical’s Design-Build services may be another factor in their success through years of an ever-fluctuating economy. Design-Build services are essentially a full-service experience offered by contractors, in which everyone who contributes to a project works together as a collaborative team. This project model prevents conflicts between architects and contractors, engineers and architects, etc., and nearly eliminates lawsuits or withheld funds between various parties responsible for a project. Lack of conflict means projects are done much more quickly and efficiently, and a project that’s finished quickly means more profit for everyone, plus a happy client.

Keith D. Clarke’s business acumen is a result of an impressive career in the industry and a lifetime of knowledge. Right after finishing high school, he joined his father and brother in their family HVAC and plumbing business. He also pursued further education in HVAC technology and system design.

During the day, he worked as an HVAC technician, installing systems, and at night he developed his design and estimating skills. This multifaceted approach to understanding the business came in handy when his father had to step down due to health issues, and Keith started running the day-to-day operations of the business himself.

Together, Keith D. Clarke and his brother were able to stand in for their father and continue meeting with current and potential clients and contractors, answering technical questions, making connections and generating leads. 

When their father passed away, they were well equipped to carry on the family legacy, and continued expanding the business. “We definitely benefited from our chance to build skills and knowledge, which allowed us to maintain strong margins and continue to bring in as much revenue as possible,” explains Clarke. “Sometimes maintaining good margins meant negotiating with suppliers and clients– luckily my experience in estimating prepared me for that.”

After a decade of successful operation, Keith D. Clarke and his brother were approached by another company hoping to incorporate HVAC services into its repertoire. With some negotiation to ensure a fair deal benefiting both parties, they sold the company, at which point it was time to find a new direction.

Keith moved on to Noland Mechanical, which is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His knowledge of the HVAC industry, keen business skills, and creative methods of problem-solving will be an asset to Noland and the industry in general for a long time to come.

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