Our family has been in the heating and air conditioning industry for over 47 years! We saw a need in the Winnipeg market for a dependable family-run heating company. Our family also owns and operates Furnasman New Homes. Furnasman New Homes has been doing new home installations in Winnipeg for over 70 years. We were receiving calls at Furnasman from satisfied customers wanting us to install replacement furnaces and new air conditioners (as well as other equipment) in friends and family members’ homes. We were already doing the 24-hour emergency service for our Furnasman customers and found that they were very pleased with our service. We had many requests wanting us to continue our service after the products came off warranty.
New and Old Homes
By offering both new home and replacement home comfort products with Furnasman New Homes as well as Mr. Furnace Heating, we really do understand indoor air quality from the ground up. Our people are licensed professionals who are continually trained to give our customers the quality they deserve. We have the Furnasman New Home people to give us the technical expertise with airflow, air quality and sizing that we sometimes require, and we have Mr. Furnace’s trained technicians to help out with our furnace, air conditioning, heat recovery ventilation systems and water heater repairs as are sometimes needed. Together, we cover it all.
By the Books
Both Mr. Furnace and Furnasman New Homes always obtain the necessary permits and abide by all provincial rules and regulations whenever installing furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters and heat recovery ventilators. Manufacturers recommend Mr. Furnace because they know “We do it right or we make it right.” Safety is very important to us. We want our people to work safely to ensure the welfare and protection of your family.
A Family Affair
Two family members, Tara Smith and Leo Klinkhammer decided we should be in the retrofit furnace, air conditioner and indoor air quality business. They started Mr. Furnace, incorporating the same family values they have used throughout their business years. Leo and Tara have over 60 years of experience in the heating and cooling industry between them.
Mr. Furnace and Furnasman New Homes work out of the same building and share the same passion, which is to look after our customers’ home comfort needs! We treat people the way we like to be treated. This is filtered up from our employees to our customers who we work very hard to keep happy.
We are proud of our reputation for looking after customers and keeping them for life. “Treat everyone fairly,” we always say. We at Mr. Furnace and Furnasman New Homes live, work and attend school in this great city. We are proud to be active members of our community and part of Winnipeg’s growing success.
Contact our family for service.
Giving Back to the Community
As an environmentally conscious business, we give back to the community any way we can. We are a part of the Thermostat Recovery Program and are one of the drop-off locations in Winnipeg for mercury thermostats. We are located at 1575 Seel Avenue. Come by to drop-off your old thermostats.
Tara Smith, Mr. Furnace, Winnipeg, Manitoba
OCT 30, 2019 | HRAI
INSPIRING WOMEN IN HVACR
“At one point my mother made a rule that there would be no talking shop at the dinner table,” says Tara Smith, General Manager of Mr. Furnace / Furnasman New Homes in Winnipeg. This mostly applied to Tara and her father Bryan Klinkhammer, but it would be hard to stick to today, given that there are so many family members working in the same business. Tara’s brother Jeff and father Bryan still work there, her mother did previously, and her husband Greg, son Carter and nephew Josh, are also part of the team. “It’s a family affair.”
Tara’s brother Jeff Sheldon is the Plumbing Manager and co-owner, her husband Greg Taylor is the New Home Heating Manager and mother Sharron Klinkhammer is now retired but remains part of the ownership team. Tara’s son Carter is a business school grad working on the sales side, and Josh is a gasfitter. In addition to blood relatives, Tara says that “many of the company’s 30 employees have been there for ten or fifteen years, so it feels like one big family.”
The story began when her father purchased Great West Heating nearly 30 years ago. He brought his daughter into the company and taught her the business, which they decided to sell during the mergers era in the early 2000s. They both stayed on as employees but soon found that “it felt too corporate. It was losing its family feeling.”
“We take pride in being part of the community and being close to the customers. We don’t have an answering service in Texas that doesn’t really know what it means to people when it’s minus 30 in Winnipeg.
We support local clubs and sports teams and I like to know all the staff and talk to their wives and husbands. At one point I went back to school and learned payroll and accounting and that served me well during the merger years, but after a little while I realized that accounting was boring for me and that I’d rather be working with people and be a problem solver.”
“So I moved into human resources, then operations, where I was in constant contact with employees and customers. I like people better than numbers. Admittedly numbers can be more consistent than people, but I thrive in the hot seat and I enjoy the rush you get from solving problems. I love it when a customer calls back and says ‘Thanks, I don’t know what I would have done without your help.’”
After the merger, her father exited first, buying Furnasman New Homes, which specialized in heating and plumbing systems for new construction. A few years later Tara established Mr. Furnace. In 2015 the two became one, completing the reunification of father and daughter and their companies. Tara is the general manager and her dad is still actively involved in managing the company, doing estimating, budgeting, planning and community initiatives.
Asked what it’s like being in charge of everyone, including her older brother, Tara jokes, “Well I was already bossy when I was five years old, so I guess it comes naturally to me.” She has been on the Board of the HRAI Manitoba Region for nine years and is currently the Chairperson. She also became a member of the HRAI National Board last year. Tara says she wishes she could somehow instill the confidence she has today into young women entering the HVAC field.
“Having confidence is important for any female in a male-dominated profession. You need to know your worth and your strengths and do your homework so you’re not afraid of the tough questions. Then, if you don’t differentiate by gender, generally men won’t either.” Tara has acquired a great deal of experience, working in all parts of the business, including short stints on service trucks and equipment installation projects.
She says over the years there have been a few instances when she was on the receiving end of gender bias, such as being called “Babe,” and the odd phone-in customer saying “Is there a man there that I can talk to?” “Usually it would be older people, because they were born in a different time and a different world.” On one occasion the ‘man’ issue was pressed, so Tara switched the call to a male service person, but it was soon rerouted back to Tara, who was more knowledgeable on the subject at hand.
Tara’s leadership has gone beyond technical expertise and day-to-day operations, as she has instilled a win-win-win customer-employee-company attitude in the recombined firm, and has made some bold strategic moves to grow revenue. Last month we reported on her trailblazing construction heat initiative, which is now bearing fruit.
She is considered one of the dynamic contributors at the HRAI and says: “One of the industry problems is that there is a big underground market with unqualified, unpermitted, unsafe work going on. It drags everyone down with it because it makes it harder for the good firms to charge the right price for our work. Through the HRAI we can address this problem and educate the public about the value of qualified technicians and safe working practices. The HRAI is important.”
Asked for one last piece of advice for women who aspire to advance in the HVAC business or become a leader like Tara, she says “Learn everything you can and earn your stripes, then don’t be thinking ‘I hope they like me.’ Think instead ‘I’m a valuable contributor and I’m going to be fine.’”
Congratulations to a very valuable contributor, Tara Smith at Mr. Furnace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Tara Smith, General Manager of Mr. Furnace
Heating and AC. Over 70 Years of Combined Experience in Dealing with Heating & Cooling Brands.
Tara’s leadership has gone beyond technical expertise and day-to-day operations, as she has instilled a win-win-win customer-employee-company attitude in the recombined firm, and has made some bold strategic moves to grow revenue.
“I had worked for my father’s company for years, and then for a corporation. I learned a lot from both environments, but what I came to realize was the type of leader I wanted to be and how I wanted to have an impact on my community, how I wanted to treat staff and customers, and how I wanted to give back to a community & industry that I lived in & loved. The best choice was to start my own business where I could grow my ideas and the family values I was raised with and help others to do the same.”
We asked Tara what advice she has for future female entrepreneurs, and here is what she said:
“Be confident in your choices. If you aren’t, figure it out first. Be prepared for any and all situations, have a plan, have a contingency plan, have a budget, and follow that budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It lets others know you are confident to admit what you don’t know, and smart enough to ask the right questions. Be prepared to work hard; the world is not fair, but you can do anything if you believe in yourself (and plan)!”