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Ryman’s AC & Heating celebrates 40 years of service

by Tom Chillemi

The team at Ryman’s Heating and Air Conditioning has more than 151 years of combined experience. They include, front row from left, Will Bristow, Chuck Brown, president Otis Ryman, Lawrence Ryman, and Stephanie Smith; back row, Emory Daniel, Shawn Powell, Ray Burch, and Eric Smith.  (Photo by Tom Chillemi)
In 1968, the price of a stamp rose to 6 cents, the very first ATM cash machine in America opened in Philadelphia, and 911 emergency service began in New York.

On February 18, 1968, Otis Ryman of Remlik started his heating business. While much has changed, Ryman’s Air Conditioning and Heating today is still providing the type of service that customers want.

Over 40 years later, Otis Ryman is still at the helm and president of the company that now has two two-man crews that install heating and air conditioning systems full-time; and three service technicians to take care of the firm’s many customers. 

In 1968, Ryman was an ambitious 25-year-old who had worked at Remlik Hall Turkey Farm for three years. He knew the turkey business was declining and he began taking correspondence courses, learning about heating systems. He focused on oil and gas furnaces that many people were using to replace old wood stoves.

Ryman worked by himself for a while, but soon business picked up and he was joined by his father, Raymond, now deceased. Later, Otis’ brother Lawrence started working with them, and is still with the firm.

Heat pumps, which are now almost standard, were just on the horizon when Otis Ryman started his business. About 1973 he put in his first heat pump for Charles and Betsy Bristow of Urbanna. His company has been installing heat pumps ever since. “I grew up with them,” he said.

Ryman’s Air Conditioning and Heating Inc. has always been a family-based business, said president Otis Ryman (third from left). Above, some of the first employees include, from left, Ryman’s father, the late Raymond Ryman; Ryman’s daughter, Tammy Shaia; and his wife, Irma. Not pictured is his brother Lawrence Ryman, who is still with the company.
Ryman’s Inc. has installed systems on several large homes, including a 10,000-square-foot Mathews home with five “geo-thermal” heat pumps, which use the stable temperature of the earth to heat and cool in the most efficient manner.

His company installed the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system for historic Elmington in Gloucester.

Ryman is a master electrician, a master HVAC technician and a Class A contractor, who is licensed, bonded and insured. He believes in keeping up with the latest technology. He noted all of his technicians and installers take continuing education classes. All his technicians are certified by NATE, which sets standards for the HVAC industry.

“Factory Authorized Dealer”

In 2005, Ryman’s Air Conditioning and Heating became the first “factory authorized dealer” for Carrier HVAC systems in the United States. This designation means Carrier stands behind its systems with a 100 percent factory-direct satisfaction warranty, said Ryman.

Ryman’s Inc. is one of the top 10 Carrier dealers in the Richmond area, and gets daily shipments of equipment from Carrier delivered to its shop on Route 602 at Remlik.

Ryman said his company motto, “Do quality work as if you were doing it for yourself,” has kept his customers coming back. In fact, Ryman’s Inc. has worked on systems for three generations of customers.

“That’s what keeps you in business,” he said. “We have upheld that drive for many years and it has kept and gained us many customers and long-time friends.” Ryman’s Inc. has earned numerous customer satisfaction awards through the years.

Ryman’s Inc. was the first HVAC installer in the area to have a rolling sheet metal shop in a trailer. He now has three shop trailers. The firm also installs emergency generators.

Good Employees

Otis Ryman’s first company truck was a 1955 Chevy. Ryman’s Inc. now has a fleet of six trucks, including three sheet metal shops on trailers.
Ryman said he and his employees have a total of more than 150 years experience, and that has made all the difference in the firm’s success. “My employees have contributed to the success of Ryman’s over the past 40 years. Without them, the business wouldn’t be where it is today,” he said. 

“We take great pride on our work and in our image. We strive to go beyond our customer’s expectations. Our employees thrive in being neat, courteous and very thorough,” said Ryman.

Members of the Ryman’s team of professionals include his wife, Irma Ryman, vice president; his sister, Ethel Brown, corporate secretary; his daughter, Stephanie Smith, administrative office assistant; and his daughter, Tammy Shaia, advertising.

Technicians and their length of service include Ryman’s brother, Lawrence Ryman, 35 years; son-in-law Eric Smith, 14 years; nephew, Chuck Brown, 25 years; Ray Burch, 23 years; Emory Daniel, 8 years; Shawn Powell, 5 years; and Will Bristow, one year.

Customers are Kings

At Ryman’s Inc. “the customer is always right, no matter what,” said Ryman. “I would like to thank all my customers for calling on me for service and installation needs over the past 40 years.”

Ryman’s Inc. has always given a one-year guarantee on systems it installs. “It’s the service after the deal that counts,” said Ryman.

Ryman’s Inc. has changed with the times. As customers asked for service agreements, his business has delivered. Ryman’s Inc. is now offering service-maintenance agreements, which were started by Ryman’s son-in-law, Eric Smith. The one-year or two-year agreements provide the ultimate in system maintenance at a reduced cost, and financing can be arranged. “The maintenance plans ensures your system will run at optimal efficiency and also extends the life of your system,” said Ryman. “They (homeowners) want to take care of what they have.”

Ryman’s Inc. has stayed active in the community, sponsoring youth sports teams for more than 30 years. Employees are youth sports coaches and officials, and the company gives employees time off to meet obligations of being volunteer firefighters or emergency workers.

The company has been very involved with many civic organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Jacob’s Ladder, Meals on Wheels and others.

All of the firm’s technicians have volunteered their Saturdays to work on two Habitat for Humanity houses, and install the new heating and cooling system at the Water View Firehouse.

posted 11.06.2008

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