GRAND FORKS — The summer months can be some of the busiest for Vilandre Heating, AC and Plumbing.
While North Dakota winters are notorious across the United States, temperatures can still rise to the 90s in the summer and occasionally even top out in the triple digits. Tyler Thompson, lead service technician at Vilandre Heating, AC and Plumbing, said the busy season has already begun.
“We are already extremely busy,” Thompson said. “So right now, we’ve got a couple of our guys that are tackling most of our maintenance contracts. We’ve got residential maintenance and then we’ve got commercial maintenance.”
One difference for Vilandre’s work on the commercial side of things is the businesses it serves usually put in calls earlier than residents do. Thompson said commercial properties usually begin running air conditioning much earlier because it’s usually a larger space needing to be cooled than a home.
Thompson’s favorite part about the job is working with different clientele. Working with homeowners is a bit more personal, and he enjoys seeing dozens of houses in Grand Forks and hearing stories about them from their owners. On the commercial side of things, he said Vilanre’s clients are usually busier, but many of them use Vilandre each year to maintain their air conditioning systems.
“I like going in there every year and getting interactions with them,” Thompson said. “You get to chat up with them a little bit when time allows it, but both sides are very beneficial for us at Vilandre.”
Even with high temperatures only reaching the mid-70s right now, Vilandre has begun receiving calls from homeowners about their air conditioning systems. Thompson said the call volume will increase as the temperatures do.
“Anything above 65 (or) 68 (degrees), you start getting the sun beating in, and you get a lot of people nowadays with allergies where they can’t open their windows and need their AC running,” Thompson said. “We have been busy already … It should be fun.”
Vilandre only works with residents or businesses having central air conditioning instead of just window units. However, there has been an ongoing shift to central air in new constructions locally. Apartment complexes in the Grand Forks area used to almost exclusively only have window units. Now, Thompson said most apartments either built recently or currently being built come with central heat and air.
“It’s great for the apartment, and most of the time the setup is so nice for us to go in there and work on, so it’s not too big of a deal,” Thompson said. “We also get the residential aspect of that. If you drive down Belmont, half the houses never had AC, they just strictly have a boiler system, so they don’t even have a fan or anything to run. So in the last 10 years, our business on Belmont has picked up.”
Vilandre has not been immune to the supply chain issues persisting across the United States in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most businesses, it has had to adjust how it prepares for jobs, as well as how it takes inventory and stocks parts.
“We keep a bunch of equipment here, but there’s only so many parts we can keep here,” Thompson said. “On the equipment side, we’re fine in that aspect. Some of the parts, you know, we’ve had a tough time coming by.”
Sometimes it’s a week. Sometimes it’s two weeks or more. It depends on the part in question, as well as the time it’s needed. Sometimes Vilandre has to use overnight ordering to get parts on time when they’re available, but it’s not always possible. Thompson said it’s hit and miss.
“There’s just nothing anybody can do about it, unfortunately,” Thompson said. “With everything going on right now, you’ve got to take it day by day and do the best you can.”