At a Glance
Installation and repair of HVAC and plumbing
Operations manager Jim Henkel takes AJ Perri Inc.’s commitment to quality, customer loyalty, and customer service as a lot more than just company talking points. He is invested not just in the HVAC and plumbing company’s current customers but in future ones. “It’s not enough to simply sell a person a furnace,” Henkel says. “I want to build a relationship so that Mr. Perri’s great-grandson sells that person’s great-grandson a furnace.” Henkel and the rest of the company work toward that goal with equal parts business savvy and community investment, holding all associates responsible for building relationships with their customers.
Founded in 1971, AJ Perri began as a heating and cooling company and added plumbing to its collective skill set four years ago. “We all want to exceed our customers’ expectations,” Henkel says, “from the customer-service representatives to the technicians to Mr. Perri himself.”
AJ Perri doesn’t just distinguish itself by its excellent customer service, though. Deeply involved in local charities, both as a company and as a group of individuals, the AJ Perri name extends beyond the world of HVAC and plumbing installations and repair. The company’s extensive charity work—for organizations as varied as the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, and a local food bank—keeps its name recognizable in a number of communities. “Any time you give back to the community, it’s a good thing, and the communities of Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union County, New Jersey, have recognized that,” Henkel says. The firm regularly sponsors sports teams for local youths, investing in the very people it looks forward to winning as AJ Perri customers later on.
Although the company clearly stands for a lot more than heating, cooling, and plumbing, behind its charitable work is, of course, an excellent product and a deep-seated commitment to customer satisfaction. Because HVAC systems change frequently, AJ Perri offers 180 hours a year of training to its employees and makes a point to bring manufacturers to its headquarters so that employees can learn in-house. That way, Henkel says, “Everybody’s accountable.” With efficiency codes pushing major changes in products such as furnaces every two to three years, this professional development of the staff is essential to exceeding customer expectations.
“We all want to exceed our customers’ expectations—from the customer-service representatives to the technicians to Mr. Perri himself.”
Jim Henkel, Operations Manager
AJ Perri works toward its goal of selling furnaces to its current customers’ future great-grandchildren with the belief that everyone on staff is equally important to the effort. Henkel is adamant that “every employee is the most important employee” in the company. “It’s a circle,” he says. “The customer-service representatives are our first point of contact, so they’re the most important employees. As the customers meet or talk with dispatchers, installers, and technicians, then they become the most important employees.”
This sense of shared responsibility and shared pride extends even to external contractors such as the Connection Company, which has been AJ Perri’s IT provider, Henkel says, since “they were just Chris and George. They’re amazing.”
Sowing good will in the community—backed by consistent, high-quality service—has reaped real results for AJ Perri. Twenty-two percent of its sales are referrals from happy customers, and the company’s technicians regularly leave coupons with customers to share with friends and neighbors. The firm’s charitable heart and a desire to succeed have formed the core of its business strategy. “I like it when a customer tells us, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that before,’” Henkel says. “And that’s how we’re going to run this business. We’re going to make our customers happy.” ABQ