Q&A With Our CEO, Brad Kivlan

What is your experience in the HVAC/R industry?

My family has roots in this industry that go back 80+ years. My great-grandfather was a Rheem salesman, and my grandfather worked for Calgon (Nu Calgon today) and then started his HVAC/R rep firm, Hal Kivlan Sales Agency, in 1968. My father, uncle and aunt joined the rep firm in the 70’s and 80’s. Hal Kivlan Sales Agency opened a small buy/sell warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and later relocated to 17,000 sqft warehouse when it became the East Coast Master Distributor for Steveco motors in the late 80’s. This is when Dynatemp was born, and I started working as a youngster in the family business. 

Dynatemp started in the early 80’s as a repacker of HVAC/R electrical parts, supplies and accessories in order to help wholesale customers consolidate orders of items that complimented Steveco Motors. As a 10 year old, my job was to package wire ties, shop rags and work gloves. I remember getting paid a decent rate, and then dad would take half for the “college fund”. I think that was his way of teaching me how taxes worked because at 10 years old, I don’t think I even knew what college was.

I had various jobs outside the family business during my teenage years. When I was 17 years old, I got a call from dad asking if I could come to work in the warehouse to fill-in for a warehouse associate who had been injured at his second job as a tree trimmer. When dad told me the market wage for a warehouse associate, I jumped at the opportunity knowing that I had a car insurance bill coming due and my career as a Subway sandwich artist wasn’t enough to pay the few bills I had as a 17 year old. 

Working nights and weekends during High School and summers during College, I was able to learn and perform various jobs in the family business. Starting as a warehouse associate, I picked, packed and shipped items for both Hal Kivlan Sales Agency and Dynatemp International. When orders slowed down during the off-season, I worked in customer service, accounts payable / receivable and order entry. Eventually I became the Warehouse Manager. I absorbed information about customers, product, part numbers, pricing and processes. I made a lot of mistakes, but I’m thankful that I was able to learn from those mistakes early on. I had great managers watching over me- Connie Walters and Carol Hippensteel. 

I graduated from Grove City College in 1999 and some job opportunities lined up with some great companies. Then dad called me up and said he wanted to interview me for a job.  He offered me a position as a Sales Representative in Hal Kivlan Sales Agency, beating out my other job offers. 

By 2003, I was in the lead role at Hal Kivlan Sales Agency and managing the marketing and advertising efforts for Dynatemp. In 2007 and 2008, I bought the sales firm from my uncle and father, and we became the Kivlan Group. When it was time to find someone to take my place as President of the company, I knew immediately that the person was Jodi Rorke. Her leadership and experience was unparalleled. We put together a good team of associates in Kivlan Group, and that allowed me to transition over to Dynatemp starting in 2013 as VP of Operations. In 2017, we opened our East Coast distribution center in Clayton, North Carolina. This was a milestone year for Dynatemp as I was named President and Will Gresham was named Executive Vice President of the organization.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think it’s important that a CEO has vast experience in every role and department in the company they lead. I’ve done everything from sweeping floors, to packaging products, to driving the forklift.  All those years of experience learning the ins and outs of the company and industry helped me to better understand what our employees go through on a day to day basis. It’s important to me that they know that I can jump in with them at any time and work shoulder to shoulder to get the job done. 

What are you most proud of when it comes to Dynatemp International?

Getting to work with all the great people in our company and our industry. There are so many brilliant minds in the HVAC/R industry and I’m thankful to work alongside so many of them everyday. Every week my team and I brainstorm what we can do to help our customers with their pain points and how we can make their business easier. There’s a theme of collaboration across our industry, people work together to solve tough problems. 

  How is Dynatemp different from its competitors?

We have a long history with our Sales Reps, that started with our relationship with the Kivlan Group, going back thirty years.  We understand the value that Reps bring to the market place and to wholesale customers with their experience, insight, and knowledge. They provide a collaborative relationship between us and our customers, taking care of both sides of the partnership. They are the experts in the industry and understand how the industry is constantly changing, we lean on them and their knowledge daily. 

What are your hopes for the HVAC/R industry?

I hope for more certainty on the regulatory side because it’s very difficult to plan a business and develop products without a clear picture of what the playing field will be. We still don’t know how long HFCs will be around because there is currently no federal phasedown in place. There is no clear picture of what the next generation of refrigerants looks like until building codes and standards catch up. To build a long term plan for our business, we want regulations to get straightened out, codes and standards get updated, and to have an orderly transition from HFCs to HFOs and natural refrigerants. 

What advice would you give for those who are considering starting a business in the HVAC/R industry? 

The big opportunities moving forward will be in energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and smart building technology. Learn the trade from the ground up as a Technician, because there is a serious shortage of Techs. It’s a great way to start in the industry. Take that knowledge and figure out where you can add value from there.