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In Memoriam: Ron Smith, Pioneer of the Modern Air Conditioning Service Business


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Ron Smith, the visionary and trailblazer widely regarded as the father of the modern air conditioning service business, passed away on December 21, 2023. His profound impact on the HVAC industry leaves an enduring legacy.

In 1965, Ron Smith embarked on a journey that would reshape the HVAC landscape. Armed with $500 in working capital, he founded Modern Air Conditioning, Inc. in Ft. Myers, Florida. Over the years, his entrepreneurial spirit and innovative business practices propelled the company to remarkable heights, achieving $15 million in sales volume by 1984.

Not content with local success, Smith expanded his influence by purchasing, growing, and selling three Louisiana and Florida air conditioning and heating companies. In 1985, he founded Service America in Atlanta, GA, marking the inception of the first national HVAC franchiser. The venture quickly flourished, boasting over 100 franchisees within four years before being acquired by Roto-Rooter in 1991.

Sharing Knowledge and Shaping the Industry

Ron Smith’s passion for sharing knowledge and fostering success in the HVAC community led to the establishment of Ron Smith & Associates (RS&A) in 1991. This HVAC-exclusive training and consulting company, based in Roswell, GA, became a cornerstone in the industry, focusing on operations, systems, processes, and disciplines. Smith personally presented the Dominant Market Share yearlong training program to over 70 distributor groups, impacting over 1900 contractor attendees before selling the company in 1997.

In 1997, Smith assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer at Service Experts in Brentwood, TN, contributing to its growth and success until its acquisition by Lennox Industries in 2000. The company, under his guidance, expanded to 116 locations across the U.S., amassing annual revenues exceeding $600 million.

Beyond his entrepreneurial ventures, Smith made significant contributions to the HVAC industry’s development. His best-selling book, HVAC Spells Wealth, became an essential guide for contractors seeking prosperity. Smith’s impact extended to various roles, including serving on the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board, the Florida Governor’s Conference on Small Business, and the Board of Directors of Spiro International S.A. in Switzerland.

Remembering a Legend

Ron Smith’s influence reached far beyond business, touching the lives of countless individuals in the HVAC community. Industry colleagues, friends, and associates express their gratitude for his mentorship, guidance, and the profound mark he left on the industry.

As the HVAC community mourns the loss of Ron Smith, it also celebrates the enduring legacy of a true pioneer, leader, and educator. The industry will forever be indebted to the man who spelled out success not just in HVAC but in the wealth of knowledge, generosity, and inspiration he shared with others.

Christie Waldrop

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