Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


After Ted Koppel's book, Lights Out, professional-grade generators are in!

by Jean Loxley-Barnard

A professional-grade generator automatically takes over when there's a power failure, no matter what the weather

A professional-grade generator automatically takes over when there's a power failure, no matter what the weather

Severe storms and unpredictable weather have increased the demand for professional-grade generators. We asked Buddy Smith, President of Russell's Heating and Air Conditioning, twice recognized as a business of the year, to answer questions both business and homeowners commonly ask.


Is a professional-grade generator a luxury or a necessity?

 Whether a professional-grade generator is a luxury or a necessity changes as we watch the suffering recent storms have caused and realized it could be here. The answer varies with business needs, age, abilities, tolerance for inconvenience, and medical conditions. For employees and families with medical considerations these generators can literally be life saving.


Why not settle for a portable generator the 'big box' stores sell?

 Many do use these small generators. But those have limitations, require a lot of attention and are famously noisy. They are just not the same product. The professional-grade generator is a freestanding unit quietly powered by natural gas.


What are the prime advantages of the professional-grade generator?

 Hands down, the automatic feature. If power goes out, the generator goes on automatically, quietly, and does so whether you are there or not. No going out in a storm or dangerous conditions to start a portable. And no danger from fumes. Businesses can avoid interruption and a whole house generator automatically turns on everything the homeowner decides to protect.


Is it affordable?

 Fortunately a business of our size has relationships with a number of different financing companies.  Customers can choose from a lot of different special programs to make purchasing a generator affordable and convenient. Along with the value of being able to quickly resume business, our customers can avoid a great deal of inconvenience and discomfort.


Is it necessary to foresee remaining in your location a certain number of years before getting a generator?

 This is a common question. The best answer is that a professional-grade generator is such an advantage that the customer may as well have it for however long they plan to be in that location. It is also a great feature when selling or renting in the future.


What is the procedure for installing a generator?

 The first step is free - the consultation. A technician will assess your needs, present the options, and answer every question.


How long does it take to install a generator?

 Longer than the few days leading up to an approaching storm! We are going to do it right over doing it quickly, every time!

Buddy and Russell Smith, son and founding father of Russell's Heating and Cooling

Buddy and Russell Smith, son and founding father of Russell's Heating and Cooling

Fathers pass on many things to their sons. Sometimes it's simply a few words of wisdom, or lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Physical attributes and emotional tendencies are many times generational.

On rare occasions, however, something much more valuable finds a new torchbearer in the family's offspring. That intangible commodity is known as a reputation.

When Russell Smith retired from Russell's Heating and Cooling, the company he founded in 1977, he gave much more to his son Buddy Smith than just the company. He gave both his personal reputation and his company's reputation.

Today, as President and owner of the company, Buddy Smith leads one of Hampton Roads' most award-winning businesses, providing both residential and commercial heating and air conditioning sales and service.

"My dad gave me a company with a rock solid business foundation. He worked hard to establish a reputable and ethical way of doing business," Buddy recalls proudly. "It was very important for me to continue that tradition. Our Mission and Values statement is very clear: 'We take personal responsibility to deliver extraordinary service to you each and every time without exception. We will be there when we say we will be there. We will do what we say we will do. We will always support each other in a positive and encouraging way, and above all else we will do the right thing.'"

Abiding by the credo has led Russell's to "Best of Chesapeake" awards and to being named Hampton Roads' Chamber's Small Business of the Year twice. His company has also been honored by being inducted into the Best Places to Work in Hampton Roads Hall of Fame.

Buddy is a lifelong resident of Chesapeake and a 1991 graduate of Great Bridge High School. He and his wife, Lauren, have two daughters, Jillian and Aly, and a son, Liam. The family is active in the Community Church of Chesapeake, where Buddy plays bass and Lauren sings with the Worship Band.

For more than three decades, Russell's Heating and Cooling has been satisfying its customers throughout Hampton Roads with quality products and service. More importantly, it continues to carry out the mission established by its founder, truly a gift from a son back to his father.

- John Downs Sr.

The Shopper Publisher Jean Loxley-Barnard with her husband, Terry Barnard

The Shopper Publisher Jean Loxley-Barnard with her husband, Terry Barnard


Terry and I had a generator installed in 2013 and the first time lights went out, and came back on within a minute, we knew the relief of having a professional-grade automatic generator. We have had to "camp out" during past storms, and we're thrilled not to have to worry about doing that again.

Russell's Heating & Cooling

1100 Executive Blvd.
Chesapeake, VA 23320