Will GilbrechWill Gilbrech is the Co-owner of Franklin Heating & Air, a family-owned business named one of the fastest-growing HVAC companies in the US. He was one of the first employees at DataRank, a Y Combinator backed startup company that sold for eight figures. Will began as a Consumer Insights Analyst and Sales Executive before transitioning to the Director of Business Development.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Will Gilbrech shares how he became involved in business technology
  • Two key lessons Will learned in business tech that helped him launch Franklin Heating & Air
  • How Will transitioned from a tech startup to Franklin
  • Franklin’s approach to talent acquisition and management
  • The challenges of managing a successful HVAC business
  • Advice for HVAC companies: don’t partner with home warranty companies or builders
  • Will talks about Franklin’s $19 service call
  • Educating diverse consumers about the importance of HVAC maintenance
  • Tips for maximizing the use of HVAC systems

In this episode…

HVAC business owners face numerous operational considerations, including hiring managers and technicians and choosing an ideal sector for services. So what does it take to build and scale a profitable HVAC company from scratch?

As the founder of a leading HVAC business not backed by private equity, Will Gilbrech believes in the value of hard work. Determination combined with a talented and analytical team is integral to long-term success. Will says that you have to acquire quick learners who are interested in the industry and can grow with the business. Additionally, when structuring your services, Will warns against partnering with home warranty businesses which can be deceiving. It’s also not wise to venture into new construction because it requires a great deal of labor with little cash flow in return.

Join Mat Zalk in today’s episode of The Same Day Podcast as he hosts Will Gilbrech, Co-owner of Franklin Heating & Air, to discuss his journey of building an HVAC business from scratch. Will also talks about the challenges of managing a successful HVAC company, how he educates consumers in different industries about HVAC maintenance, and tips for maximizing the use of HVAC systems.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

Chris Lile at State Farm Insurance:

This episode is also brought to you by Chris Lile at State Farm Insurance.

Chris Lile at State Farm helps you protect your most precious assets and investments, including home and auto.

To learn more about how you can save double digits on all your insurance needs, visit diallial.com or call Chris’ office at 918-878-7771.

Keyrenter Property Management:

This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.

Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.

They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.

That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.

To learn more about their services, go to https://keyrenterpmc.com/ or send them an email at [email protected].

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:05

Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship. Now to the show at hand.

Mat Zalk 0:20

Mat Zalk Here I’m the host of The Same Day Podcast where I connect the top business experts in real estate leaders. past guests include Brian Elliot talking about economic development in the blue dome and arts district in Tulsa Vondell Burns a Thankless Productions a virtual accelerator for current and aspiring creative entrepreneurs and Sean Printz investor and tech entrepreneur discussing the experience starting and scaling a business. Today’s episode is brought to you by Chris Lile State Farm Chris Lile State Farm helps you protect your most precious assets and investments whether it’s your home and auto investment rental properties or other valuables called Chris Lile State Farm for a quick and painless phone call to potentially save double digits on all of your insurance needs. Visit diallel.com or call his office at 918-878-7771. Today’s episode is also brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management Keyrenter Property Management we are a full service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets. We help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management. Will you are super familiar with the importance of relationships in our industry. Imagine it’s Christmas Eve and the heat goes out of the rental property probably isn’t any worse situation or worse time for that maintenance issue to pop up. That’s why it’s important to have great relationships that are you as a property owner or management company to get someone out ASAP to solve that issue. It’s not easy, certainly. But it’s how we’ve built our business and our reputation. It’s through reliable, trustworthy and responsive vendors like Franklin Heating & Air. And that’s why no matter what rental you have single family homes, condos, townhomes apartments, we have the management solutions that you need, go to keyrenterpmc.com or email us at [email protected]. I’d love to give a quick shout out to Dick and Diane Higgins, who are both still with us. But Dana is going to be transitioning out of a sales role with key writer Arkansas over the next little bit of spend more time focusing on some church activities that she has been involved with three years. We partnered with Main Street back in April of 2022. And that’s how we know we’ll and that’s how we know Franklin heating and air. So we’re grateful for a relationship with Dick and Diane Higgins great people. And they know we’ll through church, which is how they originally built the relationship with Franklin. Let me introduce William Gilbert. He’s the co owner of Franklin heating and air and he contractor in Northwest Arkansas. He started Franklin when he was 26 after working in a startup and add in both the startup and advertising worlds. And now Franklin is one of the fastest growing residential HVAC contractors in the US. It’s still family owned and not P backed which is rare these days. And something that we’re super proud of we can talk about that. And Will was also one of the first employees at data rank, the first and perhaps the only Y Combinator startup to come out of Arkansas. Well, thanks for being on the show. We appreciate you. How are you?

Will Gilbrech 2:57

Yeah. Thanks for having me there. Well,

Mat Zalk 2:59

let’s talk about the beginning. You were involved in tech business in Arkansas, that’s more prevalent now than it was in the past. Tell us about how you got started with DataRank?

Will Gilbrech 3:09

Yeah, so it’s still probably relatively rare. I mean, there’s a few, you know, here and there. But yeah, when I was in college, I took a class from a guy named Jeff Hamer, Ryan, who is kind of the startup guy or was the sort of guy you know, in Northwest Arkansas for a while, and still is something called Startup junkie, but anyways, he was a professor. And he was teaching like a new ventures class, you know, something like that, like a startup class. And I was like, gonna, you know, be kinda interesting or easy. So I took his class, and I really liked it. And, you know, probably halfway through this semester, so I went up to him after class and said, hey, you know, I really liked the idea of, you know, working for a tech company, or a startup or whatever. I mean, this was kind of in the heyday, you know, of back before things got kind of cynical. Around the tech industry, this is when everybody wanted to work for Facebook or Google when everybody was in store, you know, the next Facebook, this is, you know, a few years back, but, you know, it was really kind of the optimistic time of tech, in my opinion. So anyways, I went up to him and asked him, you know, are there any tech companies, you know, locally, like, are there you know, because everybody, you know, Facebook, all of them were in the news, I was like, but is he by doing anything around here? And he said, Man, there are, there aren’t very many, you know, this would have been in probably 2013 2014 said, there aren’t very many, but there’s a really smart guy and named Ryan Fraser, and Kenny and Choom. There’s a few guys who have a company called data, right? And he was like, you know, I can set you up with a with an interview with them. You know, it’s like three or four guys, you know, in their underwear in an office somewhere, but I mean, you know, you should go by you should go by and meet them. That’s yeah. And so he ended up connecting us or something and I went up there and they were right up there off the football square and that old. I don’t know how old it is that that tall building right off the square, and went in there and metal film. And you know, it was like, you know, this ragtag group of rascals, frankly, there was like a ping pong table, like a crappy broken ping pong table, if I remember, right. But anyways, I talked to him. And in particular, I talked to Ryan. And I just, I thought he was really smart. And I didn’t know much about what they’re working on. But he just seemed like a really smart guy, and that people and they were really smart. And so he hired me, I think I probably made like, 10 or 11 bucks an hour, making the big bucks, maybe in that. And I was still in college at the time. And so I just started working, working for them, you know, just after school, and on the we are, I can’t remember what to work from, but part time basically. And what they were doing was, I didn’t know it at the time, but it was kind of a big deal. So, you know, this was right around when social media was becoming big. And so they had come up with basically a social media analytics tool to track what people were saying online, right. So they had initially started with hedge funds. There’s actually another name for it previously, but basically, people were mining, talk on social media to see, like, for instance, you know, like, let’s say, let’s say Nike. A lot of people were super positive about Nike, you know, on say, Twitter, that maybe that was a positive signal for what their stock was going to do, or where they’re going to be earning or whatnot. And so they had gotten a lot of traction with that. But being in Northwest Arkansas, the logical place to go was to sell it to all the Walmart vendors. So obviously, Walmart’s based here, maybe not obviously, if you’re not from here, but Walmart is is based out in Northwest Arkansas, that’s their headquarters. And so Walmart requires you to, if you’re a vendor, for Walmart, you have to have an office here. There’s a ton of offices in a Procter and Gamble and Clorox and anything you’re gonna see at Walmart, any of those brands, you know, they’re, they’re here. And so Ryan’s idea was to sell this to say, Clorox, who I think was, maybe our first customer was to sell this, this, this tool to, to the CPG companies, you know, who are selling into Walmart. And so, long story short, we ended up doing pretty well. And a lot of them started using it. And eventually, we sold to a company out of Seattle or something like that. So it was it was a fun ride.