On April 1, John Barron, owner of Barron Heating and Air Conditioning, will have owned the company for 22 years. Add that to the 26 years his parents owned and ran the company before him, and you get a business well-prepared to support the community during the current COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bellingham company services heating, ventilation, cooling, electrical and plumbing needs for Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and Island Counties, including Whidbey, Camano, and the San Juan Islands. They also provide indoor Air Solutions, home weather insulation and commercial contracting. Because of their work servicing residential HVAC/R, Electrical and plumbing needs, they will continue to serve the community as an essential business, at a time that many other non-essential businesses are forced to shut their doors.
They do not take this responsibility lightly.
To uphold Governor Jay Inslee’s call to slow the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure the health and safety of their staff and customers, the company has implemented strict protocols for all home visits. They’ve also installed multiple virus-killing air purifiers at their Ferndale campus, and are offering those same air-purifiers to their customers at discounted rates.
“Extreme times require extreme measures,” Barron says.
Any time the company receives a call from a customer for a home service, they will ask about the health of every family member who lives there before making an appointment to visit the home. In certain instances, they’ve even been able to work through a problem over the phone or over video, rather than on-site.
When they do conduct a home service, the Barron technicians now call the customer on their way to the house and upon arrival to verify everyone inside is healthy. Once inside, all technicians wear disposable gloves and are mindful to maintain a six-foot distance from everyone in the household. Customers also have the opportunity to stay in another room during the visit or opt to have the service done while no one is home. The company is licensed and bonded for these types of visits, and this option, Barron says, is one customers often chose in the past—their home could conveniently be serviced while they were at work or elsewhere.
“People know they can trust us,” says Barron.
For their own employees, the company is ensuring anyone who feels unwell stays home, and any employees who have been traveling out of the state or country are required to self-quarantine themselves for seven days before returning to work.
“Safety and health are of utmost importance to us, both for the customers we serve and for our internal team,” Barron says. “We know it’s extremely important that we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to be able to take care of things that are essential in emergencies and things that people need in terms of heat, water, and electricity.”
Recently, Barron Heating and Air Conditioning took the additional step of installing five virus-killing air purifiers at their Ferndale location to support the health of their employees.
“We provide this service for people, and I will not not have my people have the benefit of what we do for customers,” Barron says. “It transcends money.”
Because the novel coronavirus has not been around long enough to be tested, it cannot be confirmed these systems work to kill this virus. However, the technology has a 99 percent inactivation rate for viruses with similar characteristics. These purifiers have been tested against other “enveloped” or protein-jacketed viruses, including the swine flu and avian bird flu—both viruses with similar protein structure to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
“If you have to be at work, I would say right now Barron Heating is probably the safest place, air quality-wise, in all of the five counties in which we work—maybe west of the Mississippi,” Barron says.
Beyond conducting business with extra safety precautions in place, Barron Heating and Air Conditioning can be a resource to shore up people’s homes against the coronavirus.
The company is currently offering the same virus-killing air purifiers installed in their facility to their customers for no additional cost with select equipment installations. The purchase of air conditioning equipment, a heat pump or ductless heat pump technology all qualify for the free air purifier.
Barron also offers duct cleaning services, and right now, they are offering duct sanitizing for free with any duct cleaning service. This cleaning and sanitizing technology is known to destroy dirt, mold, and germs, and is part of what grants the company their certification by NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association)—a national certification that only a handful of other companies in Washington state have.
“Ducts are like the lungs of your home,” says Merrill Bevan, residential sales manager for Barron Heating and Air Conditioning. “Every breath you take—that air has gone through those ducts multiple times per day. And as thoroughly as you or I can go home and clean our house, we can’t touch those ducts. It requires special equipment.”
National data shows the air inside a typical, healthy home is still five to six times more polluted than the outside air. As people spend upwards of 50 extra hours a week inside their homes, that’s 50 extra hours per person each week of breathing that indoor air.
“The things we can do to help people with indoor air quality right now are exponentially more important, not just because of what’s going on in the world, but because of the intensity of time they’re spending at home,” Bevan says.
As people are spending most of their time inside their homes, the company has also already noticed their metrics change, revealing an increased need for services to plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.
“Our industry is determined to be an essential service because we keep the essential parts of homes running,” says Bevan. “We have both the privilege and the duty to move through our community, and we’re taking that very seriously.
In these unprecedented times, Barron Heating and Air Conditioning strives to offer a trusted resource to the community. Despite the challenges we’re all facing, John Barron has found hope in the response from his team members.
“We would never want this virus to come, but it has actually shown the very best of what our company and our people are about,” Barron says. “I’ve never been prouder of the team and the group that I work with and how they rise to the challenges of what we’re dealing with every day. As a business owner, it’s beyond me to be able to put into words the kind of team I’m blessed to be able to work with.”