June 27, 1977 — Jimmy Carter was President, gasoline sold for 63 cents per gallon, the Tribe was six games out of first place, Elvis Presley had just died, fluorocarbons were feared to be damaging the ozone layer, and The Enterprise Corporation came into being.
Before that date, the company was known as Enterprise Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. The firm, specializing in HVAC service work, was formed in 1952 by Clevelander Frank Kushner and moved to the suburb of Solon in 1964 in anticipation of expected growth in that community. That June day in 1977, Kushner sold his company to a young man named Richard A. Starr, who left a position with a different mechanical contracting firm to take over the ownership of Enterprise. Starr changed the name to The Enterprise Corporation and in the ensuing years, he and his capable staff have expanded the business to more than 35 times its original size.
Starr began his business life in high school when he created a company called Odd Jobs, Inc. Upon graduating from college in 1970, he joined Honeywell, Inc. Following a three-year stint as a sales engineer in Cleveland, Starr became one of Honeywell’s top producers in the United States. Subsequently he was offered the position of regional operations director in Philadelphia, which he declined in order to assume total profit and loss responsibility for Honeywell’s Toledo office.
Within two years, the Toledo operation would realize unprecedented growth in customer base and profit. Starr then expanded his HVAC reach by joining a large mechanical contractor in 1975 as President of their Systems/Service Division. It was here that he took his understanding of a properly functioning building control system to a new level.
Five decades and many installations later, this diversity of HVAC experience and education has shaped Enterprise into a company whose culture is comfort, safety, and energy management at the lowest possible operating cost.
Along the way (1984), Enterprise became the exclusive local distributor/contractor/engineer for a worldwide leader in the manufacturer of temperature controls and building automation systems. In 2006, Enterprise was exposed to new opportunities when it became a building control systems integrator with Tridium. Recognizing that a properly tuned mechanical system is the most fundamental form of energy management, Enterprise partnered with Linc Service. Linc is an HVAC service partner that provides contractors a total package of business support programs in personnel development, sales, marketing, accounting, HVAC operations, etc. Enterprise is one of nearly 200 licensed holders worldwide.
Enterprise is also prepared to help young people looking for career/job opportunities in the HVACR industry. When Richard Starr was chairman of the Cleveland chapter of the Mechanical Service Contractor’s Association he spearheaded a “school-to-work” program in conjunction with local vocational schools and Pipefitters Local Union No. 120. The program is designed to serve as an effective transition from school to work by giving qualified high school students an outstanding academic education while instilling in them an understanding of the work and skills necessary for competing in the world of work. The program is skill based, labor and industry approved and directly linked to explicit work-place situations. Qualified students earn an hourly wage to start and are guaranteed admission into the union upon graduation. To be considered for the program an applicant must:
- Be at least 16 years of age
- Have attended a minimum of 95 percent of scheduled classes during freshman and sophmore years
- Have maintained a 3.0 grade point average (“B”) on a 4.0 scale in classes related to the trade and a 2.5 grade point average since entering the vocational program
- Receive a written recommendation from at least one teacher in a class related to the trade
- Be able to perform the essential functions of the trade with or without reasonable accommodation and without posing a direct threat to the safety or health of any individual or others
- Complete a substance abuse screening profile
Adding to Enterprise’s rich history, a leading air conditioning manufacturer chose Starr to conduct an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) workshop at their 11th annual Design/Build conference. In addition, Starr sits on the editorial advisory board for Contracting Business Magazine, has authored numerous articles on system controls and indoor air quality that have appeared in Contracting Business and HPAC Engineering magazines and also sits on the National Board of Manager’s for the HVAC Service industry’s leading trade organization, Mechancial Service Contractors of America (MSCA).
In February, 2008, Starr became Northern Ohio’s first LEED AP, Accredited within the “Existing Building Operations & Maintenance” (EBOM) Track.
Enterprise was the first mechanical contractor in Ohio to be awarded the prestigious GreenStar designation from The Mechanical Service Contractors of America (MSCA). The GreenStar designation recognizes qualified contractors who have met stringent guidelines for environmental responsibility throughout their companies.
In 2011 Enterprise earned the Contracting Business Commercial HVAC Contractor of the Year award.
In 2014, Richard Starr served as the 1st Ohioan to Chair the largest HVAC Service trade organization in the USA, Mechanical Service Contractor’s of America, MSCA. Since 1975, the Mechanical Service Contractors of America has provided large and small heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration service contractors with management and marketing tools, training and education programs, and government and labor relations. MSCA has more than 1,400 contractor members and is a subsidiary of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.
So from a small heating and air conditioning firm, Enterprise has grown into a significant Maintenance/Design/Build contractor specializing in HVAC, controls, and system testing, air balancing, and start-up. Their service and product offerings fulfill the needs of every environmentally sensitive building owner.