Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Embracing innovations in comfort

by Rob Lauer

President and owner Buddy Smith is thrilled that <BR>Russell’s Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric <BR>has been named a 2019 winner of Coastal Virginia Magazine’s <BR>Best of Coastal Virginia Readers’ Choice Contest.

President and owner Buddy Smith is thrilled that
Russell’s Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric
has been named a 2019 winner of Coastal Virginia Magazine’s
Best of Coastal Virginia Readers’ Choice Contest.

On a summer day, when the temperature and humidity are creeping up, the last thing anyone wants is to turn on their air conditioner and have nothing happen," Buddy Smith says from the refreshing coolness of his office in Greenbrier. "The same thing is true when temperatures drop, and a home's heating system doesn't work. In both cases, one has an emergency on one's hands."

As the owner of Russell's Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric, Buddy and his highly-trained team deal with these emergencies daily. They continually remind their clients and the public in general that these situations can be avoided by having their home's heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems checked regularly. "We encourage people to purchase one of our maintenance plans to make sure that their existing systems don't break down when they are most needed," Buddy explains.

 Other than adjusting the thermostat and hitting a button, most people don't give a second thought to their home's heating and cooling systems. They are aware that hidden behind the walls of their house is an extensive system of ductwork, fans, and pumps that cool or heat the air to the desired temperature. When things are quiet at home, they might hear the rush of air through vents or the low reverberations of hidden fans and pumps. In those moments, their house- their most significant financial investment- can seem to be a living thing with a mind of its own. The thought of something going wrong in that massive hidden system can be daunting. Many find cold comfort in simply not thinking about it- until actual cold comfort is wanted, and they discover their air conditioning isn't working.

Fortunately, new innovative cooling and heating systems are less intimidating than traditional systems. An example of one such system can be seen in Buddy's corner office at Russell's headquarters. Though two of his office's walls are solid glass from the ceiling to floor, with sunlight continually pouring in throughout the day, the room's temperature is remarkably crisp and comfortable. The source of this comfort is a small white unit on one of the office's walls. Its design is so sleek that it goes unnoticed until Buddy points to it.

"This is the Mitsubishi Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump," he says with a smile. "It keeps any room at a perfect temperature at any time of year. It's state-of-the-art and completely different from other models. For one thing, there's no ductwork. The air blows directly into the room, which makes it incredibly reliable and energy-efficient. Because ductless mini-splits use so little electricity compared to traditional units, they can dramatically reduce a home's overall energy bill."

 "Mitsubishi keeps my office cool in hot weather, and during the cold weather, people coming in here always comment on how nice and warm it is," Buddy declares. "Many areas in Russell's headquarters are completely cooled and heated by Mitsubishi. There are units in each room, but because they run so quietly and their design is so streamlined, you don't even notice them."

"We get a lot of calls from people who want to find a way to cool their garages, rooms over their garages and units that are detached from their houses," Buddy continues. "Mini-splits are a great way to cool these rooms instead of installing the much larger traditional system."

"We love this product because we can quickly install them and have them running with very little mess or inconvenience for our customers," Buddy declares. "Once installed, the unit can be programmed for heating, cooling, recycling fan, or dehumidifying. Special controls allow for optimal comfort tailored to anyone's preferences."

The Mitsubishi Mini-Split is not the only innovation changing the utility systems in modern homes. A little over a year ago, Russell's began offering plumbing services, and now Buddy is quick to sing the praises of tankless water heaters.

"The traditional water heater is a big, clunky device that usually takes up too much space in a garage or mudroom," he explains. "Water is heated and held in reserve until it is needed. But if one or two family members take long showers, they use up all the hot water. The next person in line to shower has to wait for more water to be heated."

"A tankless water heater does away with the issue of "Who used all the hot water?' by heating water as it is needed- meaning, there's always limitless hot water," Buddy says. "The tankless water heater also has a longer lifespan than the traditional model: if it's flushed out once a year, it can last for 20 years. Traditional models usually last for only 10 to 15 years. One big advantage is that tankless water heaters are so much smaller than traditional units. They take up very little space."

"We get a lot of calls
from people who want to find a way
to cool their garages,
rooms over their garages and
units that are detached from their houses.
Mini-splits are a great way
to cool these rooms."

- Buddy Smith

Whether installing and servicing innovations such as Mitsubishi Mini Splits and tankless water heaters or traditional systems, Buddy and his skilled technicians bring to the job the same dedication and care that has made Russell's a local industry leader for decades. "We're an eleven-time Best of Chesapeake winner," Buddy says with pride. "Recently, we were named a 2019 winner of Coastal Virginia Magazine's Best of Coastal Virginia Readers' Choice Contest."

"Just last week, a customer was telling me how much she appreciated our approach to customer service," Buddy continues. "After we scheduled her project, she received a text with a photo of the worker we assigned to do the work, along with his name and his bio; and then she received tracking updates showing where he was en route to her house. All of our workers are friendly and polite, and they clean the work site completely when they've finished so that the customer's home is as neat and tidy as when they first arrived."

Besides the company's commitment to delivering outstanding service, one of the reasons for Russell's popularity might be its commitment to the local community. Considering Hampton Road's strong military presence, Buddy is proud to be a part of Mitsubishi's 2019 Comfort For Heroes project.

"Anyone who is a veteran or currently serving, anyone working in law enforcement, or as a firefighter, teacher, EMT, or paramedic is eligible for a 10 percent rebate- up to $1,500- on a Mitsubishi Mini-Split," Buddy explains. "Those choosing to enter these professions are truly heroes, working selflessly to keep us safe abroad and at home, and to prepare our children for the future. We are humbled to offer them this small token of our gratitude."

Buddy understands that issues involving heating, air, and plumbing can often arise at the worst possible time- financially speaking. "Because that's the reality for most people, we offer some excellent financing programs- up to 60 months, equal monthly payments with no interest."

"When all is said and done, our job at Russell's is to make things easier for our clients- no mess, no confusion," Buddy concludes. "We work to ensure that our customers have a great experience- from their initial call to our office to having the work done to budgeting and paying for the entire project. Everyone on our team takes personal responsibility in delivering extraordinary service to our clients each and every time- without exception."