Monday, May 10th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


Comfort is just a smile away

by Allison T. Williams

Taylor Smiley, vice president of operations, and Larry Smiley, <BR>owner and president of Smiley’s Heating & Cooling

Taylor Smiley, vice president of operations, and Larry Smiley,
owner and president of Smiley’s Heating & Cooling

Nothing brings a smile to one's face faster than walking into the comfort of an air-conditioned room on a sweltering summer day. So, it seems only appropriate that a home-grown Portsmouth business that has been providing Hampton Roads residents with heating and cooling for 33 years should bear the name Smiley. 

It isn't a gimmick. Larry Smiley is founder and president of the company, and his family's name is emblazoned on all company vans alongside a smiley-face logo.  In recent months, these smiley-faced vans have become a more frequent sight in Virginia Beach where Smiley's Heating & Cooling has opened a second office.

"We already had a strong customer base at the beach, and it makes it easier for us to serve them more efficiently by having an office out there," Taylor Smiley, Larry's daughter and Vice President of Operations, explains. "Business in the Virginia Beach area is really starting to pick up, especially since we now have more of our business vans on the road out there."

Currently, the Virginia Beach office, which opened in the Lynnhaven area this past February, is staffed with a full-time secretary and sales technician. Although service technicians are still being rotated through the main office in Portsmouth, Larry's long-range plans eventually call for six HVAC specialist technicians to serve the Virginia Beach site.

"We base our business philosophy on a firm belief in being fair, and providing high-quality service that makes our customers happy and puts smiles on their faces," Larry declares. "We accomplish all this by hiring quality people who do quality work."

Taylor agrees, noting that employees' longevity with the company is also key to its success. She also points out an interesting fact: company employees include several pairs of brothers, a couple of father-and-son duos, and of course, she and her father. Taylor believes that because of the company's positive atmosphere and welcoming work environment, satisfied employees encourage family members to come on board.

"I think it shows a lot of character, having families who have been with us for decades, and that makes us humble," Taylor says. "I think my being one of the only women in the HVAC industry–traditionally, a male-dominated field–also gives us the chance to see things from a different perspective."

Larry Smiley founded Smiley’s Heating & Cooling 33 years ago. <BR>Photo by Michele Thompson

Larry Smiley founded Smiley’s Heating & Cooling 33 years ago.
Photo by Michele Thompson

Today, Smiley's headquarters is located in a spacious newly-constructed facility on Portsmouth Boulevard, that boasts a large, professional kitchen and an upstairs recreation room featuring a 72-inch television, a ping-pong table, and exercise equipment.

But Taylor remembers the company's early years when its only employees were Larry and Terry, a technician who is still on staff. A sparse downstairs office in Larry's former home off Turnpike Road in Portsmouth served as the company's office for its first 15 years in business.

 "We've come a long way since then," Taylor observes with a laugh.

"We base our business philosophy
on a firm belief in being fair,
and providing high-quality service
that makes our customers happy
and puts smiles on their faces."

                             - Larry Smiley

Heating and cooling a home can be expensive, but Larry and Taylor have several suggestions for how homeowners can lower utility costs.

Larry's first recommendation is for homeowners to have routine checks on their furnaces and HVAC units.  Such maintenance checks should be conducted at the beginning of every heating and cooling season. To the homeowner, everything may appear to be working fine, but these checks can uncover and correct problems affecting energy efficiency, Larry explains, saving clients money in the long run.

Taylor agrees, also emphasizing the importance of remembering to change the air filters once every month or two. Doing so can prevent a plethora of more severe problems in the future.

Larry and Taylor agree that the most cost-efficient thing people can do is to set their thermostat at the temperature they find most comfortable and then leave it alone.

A lot of people erroneously believe that they save energy by drastically adjusting thermostats when they leave the house to go to work and switching it back again when they return home. But, Larry affirms that this practice actually increases energy bills because the HVAC system has to work harder to achieve the desired temperature.

Replacing ductwork is another way to reduce energy costs, according to Larry. Because ductwork components expand and contract as they move hot and cold air, eventually the seams in the ductwork begin to leak.

"Customers always come first at Smiley's Heating & Cooling," Larry pledges. "Everything we do revolves around providing customers with superb service.

This commitment to excellence is borne out by the high customer service reviews that the company has received on social media: a 4.9 score from Google and 4.8 from Facebook. The Better Business Bureau has awarded Smiley's a grade of A+, while Trane Comfort Specialist, a manufacturer of HVAC units, gives it a rating of five stars. In 2016, Smiley's Heating & Cooling was named a winner of Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.

"Our team is proud of the high-quality service we provide our customers," Larry says. "We offer flexible hours and recognize that our clients may not be available to come home during a regular workday. Therefore, we plan service calls around their busy schedules."

Larry and Taylor are both Portsmouth natives who still call the city home and are proud to headquarter their business there. "We love it here," Taylor smiles. "It's home for us."

Being local and family-owned, Smiley's Heating & Cooling offers a genuine sense of caring that often seems to be lacking in larger, corporate-owned companies.

"We can keep our costs down, which in turn means we offer our customers reasonable prices," Taylor concludes. "Our customers are more than just numbers to us. Frequently, they're our neighbors and our friends. We take pride in our work, and we want to do what is best for our neighbors. We genuinely care about their well-being."