Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

S Shopper Stories


Customers are extended family for this third generation family business

by Kym Bach

From left: Emma, Jennifer, Mason, and Neil Philbrick

From left: Emma, Jennifer, Mason, and Neil Philbrick

Being the contractor customers can trust completely, who thinks of them as extended family, and truly looks out for their best interests in every possible way is owner and President Neil Philbrick’s ultimate goal. Philbrick Inc. is one of the region’s foremost one-stop-shops for every need concerning heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical work. 

Neil worked for his family’s company during high school, but after college went to work at a major plumbing and HVAC wholesaler in the area. After the slump in the real estate market affected their business, his grandmother asked if he’d come back to Philbrick Inc. The decision was easy. He knew that they needed to become more diversified, so in 2010 he brought new and fresh ideas to accomplish just that. A friend from Neil’s post-college job who shared his values and goals, Jason Sawning, followed him about a year later and became the general manager at the family business. 

Neil understands the importance of customer service. “We want to make sure that, no matter what, we are going to provide the best customer service possible for our clients. That is our number one concern. We implemented 24 hour emergency service for customers to call any time they need us,” Neil says.

“We try to make our customers feel like family. Every time that phone rings, somebody is calling because they have a problem. We want to make sure when we answer that phone we are accomplishing several things: that we are handling the call in a professional manner, that we’re taking care of their needs satisfactorily, that we are empathizing with the problem at hand and that we are jumping right on it and completing the work in a timely manner,” Neil emphasizes. It’s obvious that he has a passion for helping people when they are in need, and doing it well.

Jason’s years of experience have shown him how much customers appreciate a small gesture. “Sometimes when a customer calls, they may have a simple problem that we can help with over the phone. We believe that by making it easier for our customers and helping them with a routine fix in a phone conversation that we are building goodwill and a long-term relationship,” Jason explains. “We believe this builds trust, and they will come to us for their future needs. We know how valuable people’s time is and we make every effort to keep that in mind.”   

Satisfied customers Bart and Meredith Sawyer reviewed the business on Facebook. They wrote, “This is quite literally the best company to deal with! Every technician and specialist has shown us kindness and respect. They answer every single question and are completely honest about what is needed! This year we needed an entire AC set up. Our old one went out on us a day ago, and today a technician and specialist were on site. In a world where customer service and honest people are few and far between, it is so refreshing to have a company that still has values! Thank you so much for all your work.”

Having been in business for over 60 years speaks volumes about Philbrick’s success. “A customer can take a look at our track record, and we hope it says something to them; we believe it means we must be doing something right. That’s a powerful tool to have, especially with all of the competition in this business,” Neil points out.  “If we didn’t provide good customer service and quality work job after job, we wouldn’t have been in business this long. We are even fortunate enough to have multiple generations of families as customers,” Neil affirms.

A great way that Neil gives his clients superior service is by offering zero percent financing for up to 60 months, for those that qualify. It’s a good feeling to know that the repairs or upgrades one’s home needs are within financial reach. Asking clients the right questions, presenting them with different options, and making them comfortable by walking them step by step through the process are a few more ways the business makes people feel like family. One of their goals is to reduce a customer’s energy bills by capturing as much savings as possible from the efficiency of the equipment.

“No matter what,
we are going to provide the best
customer service possible for our clients.
That is our number one concern.”

—Neil Philbrick

“Whether a project is $100,000 or $100, we really care about our customers. The dollar amount makes no difference in the treatment our clients receive,” Neil asserts.

Philbrick’s technicians are top notch and undergo a thorough interview process. Neil wants to make sure that they share the same ideals and goals as the company. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t get a positive voicemail or online review about one of their technicians. Brian Holland, another Philbrick client, says, “I had James Canadyan from Philbrick come service my two AC units. It was one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve ever had with any company. James was not only professional, but he was thorough as he explained what he did, and why. The best part is that he spoke very highly of the company, and you should be proud that you have such a professional, hardworking young man representing Philbrick, Inc.”

Having had the experience of working for eight years at a wholesaler together really afforded Neil and Jason a different outlook on the industry. They were able to see what businesses did well and perhaps what some had not done as well. “The benefit is that we both learned a lot by working on the contractor side and on the wholesaler side of this business.  That’s helped us take this company where we wanted it to go. We are consistently getting more calls, renewals, and referrals in every area of the business; heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical. To us, that is something that is not only powerful, but also makes us all very proud,” Neil notes.

“Something else that sets us apart,” Jason points out, “is how we handle less than perfect situations.  Everything doesn’t always go the way it was planned. Yes, we have the skill to handle almost any problem, but the manner in which we handle it is important, too. We still treat our clients with respect and honesty. It’s not only the problem; it’s how we fix it for the customer.” 

Philbrick’s takes care of customers in all seven cities, and includes service to the Eastern Shore, Williamsburg, Poquoson, and Smithfield.  

A semi-annual maintenance plan called “The Philbrick Family Plan” is available to make sure there are no unforeseen problems with an HVAC system. They’ll perform a system check-up and provide new filters. This proactive maintenance will allow the unit to run more efficiently and extend its life, which saves the customer money in the long run.  
Within the grand scope of meeting customers’ needs, Neil is also able to remodel a bathroom or kitchen. “We can take care of the plumbing, HVAC, or electrical issues ourselves; and I have colleagues in the industry I can partner with to take care of the rest of the remodeling, making this a one-stop-shop,” Neil explains.

Nikki Young’s kitchen remodel is an example of how Philbrick’s gets perfect results. Her kitchen featured a very large box light that was to be replaced by pendant lights. “I was concerned about removing the box light because the ceiling was textured. Neil recommended Lighthouse Construction,” Nikki says.

Neil’s recommendation came from his years working with Bill Heitzer and his team at Lighthouse Construction on many projects that have required fixing drywall and retexturing plaster after this type of remodel. Robert “RJ” Foley is Bill’s best drywall professional.

“Bill and RJ are the best. RJ did such a good job blending the texture in the ceiling that I can’t even tell that there was ever a big ugly box light up there,” Nikki exclaims.

And Neil couldn’t be happier that they’ve made it better for the customer by only having one call to make, one person to talk to. “The sky’s the limit on what we can do for our clients!” the business owner beams. 

Philbrick Inc.

4999 Portsmouth Blvd.
Portsmouth, VA 23701