Putting the joy of homeownership back in the spotlight

by Cristi Sanchez

Homeownership is a joy and a blessing but is not without stresses. With it comes the maintenance and occasional repairs of big-ticket items like heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical. During those times when technicians are needed, homeowners often cross their fingers, hold their breath, and hope for the best.

MEP Home Services seeks to reduce homeowner stress and provide peace of mind with their business philosophy: do the job well and do it right the first time. Russ Tantillo, Service Manager of MEP’s service division in Chesapeake, works to ensure that his technicians adhere to that philosophy and provide fast and reliable service.

For Russ, the road to MEP was not direct. The Chicago native moved to Virginia 35 years ago and established a print shop business in Northern Virginia. As the years passed, the business grew quite successful and expanded to several shops across the region. The business was so successful that in 2005 Russ had an offer from a national printing franchise to buy his stores.

“If you check your systems
before the height of the hot
 and cold weather seasons,
it can save you sweaty nights
or freezing cold days.
It helps provide peace of mind
that they’ll work
when you need them the most.”

—Russ Tantillo

So how did a successful print shop owner end up managing service technicians for an HVAC/plumbing/electrical business? “As it turns out, one of my biggest customers at the print shop was an HVAC contractor,” Russ says with a smile. “When I sold my stores, he asked me to come work for him, and I’ve been working in the HVAC industry ever since.”

In 2016 MEP Home Services’ parent company in Northern Virginia, MEP Partners, offered Russ a job to establish their service division. The parent company provides HVAC, plumbing, and electrical installation for builders, including Ryan Homes who has a large presence in Hampton Roads.

“They have a great reputation with builders,” Russ continues. “They believe in doing the job quickly, finishing on time, and getting it right the first time. I liked that philosophy and was drawn to their attractive growth rate. Those things combined with my 20 years of experience as a service tech manager had the job looking like a good fit.”

And a good fit it was. Russ gladly took the baton passed to him to build MEP Home Services which specializes in maintenance and repair service to residential homeowners and local businesses. Determined to make it as successful as the parent company, Russ began with the cornerstone on which MEP Partners stood – do the job well and do it right the first time.

From the first technician that came into the service department to every technician thereafter, Russ has diligently impressed upon them the importance of doing the job right. “Having  a good reputation is very important to us,” Russ states. “Getting a job done right in a timely manner is our expectation for every technician here.”

Russ Tantillo, Service Manager of MEP Home Services

Russ is passionate that every technician is well-trained for their position. “We send all our technicians to manufacturer training to be proficient in all the brands we service and install, and we also train them in-house on how to diagnose problems, fix them quickly, and get it done right the first time.” In addition, Russ also ensures that his technicians receive continuing education through seminars to keep up with new techniques and technologies in the HVAC and plumbing industries.

Russ’ desire to educate doesn’t stop with his technicians. Educating customers on the importance of maintenance of HVAC units and water heaters is a top priority.

“If you don’t change the oil, rotate the tires, or get maintenance on your car, it’ll fail. A lot of people don’t understand that you need that same type of service for your home as well,” Russ explains. “Furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters are machines, so they require maintenance. It’s vital for homeowners to understand how important maintenance is for efficiency, savings, and making equipment last longer. If people don’t get regular HVAC maintenance they can get into trouble real quick and it’s very costly.”

In order to avoid the problems that can arise from ignored HVAC and water heater equipment, Russ recommends they receive two check-ups annually. “Check-ups and maintenance are key to avoid those nasty equipment failure surprises,” Russ points out. “If you check your systems before the height of the hot and cold weather seasons, it can save you sweaty nights or freezing cold days. It helps provide peace of mind that they’ll work when you need them the most.”

To assist homeowners with these twice-yearly checks, MEP Home Services offers low-priced maintenance agreements that include two HVAC visits, in spring and fall, and an annual plumber visit to check fixtures. “We also have a plan that covers tankless water heaters,” Russ adds. “A lot of people are unaware that it’s extremely important for them to be flushed and cleaned every year.”

As an added bonus, the maintenance plans also entitle clients to priority service. “If a service member’s unit goes down in the middle of a cold or hot spell, they get moved to the top of the service list, and all members receive 15 percent discount off all regular prices,” Russ explains further.

During a maintenance check, MEP Home Services’ well-trained technicians clean and thoroughly inspect units and fixtures for any sign of dirt, wear, or damage. “If we happen to see something that looks broken, frayed, dirty, or damaged, we’ll bring it to the homeowner’s attention to make sure they understand why it should be fixed,” Russ says of the process.

“Then we discuss all options with the homeowners. If a unit can be repaired instead of replaced, we discuss all of the pros and cons with them and let them decide. No high-pressure sales here. We don’t own their home and we don’t have their pocketbook, so we educate them, inform them, and let them decide. ”

By providing customers with education and options, maintenance programs, and a job that is done right, MEP Home Services gives homeowners the peace of mind to know that their equipment will be reliable when the mercury plunges and the humidity rises, putting the joy of homeownership back in the spotlight.

All MEP technicians receive continual training in the newest techniques and technologies

MEP Home Services

2519 South Military Highway
Chesapeake, VA 23320