A Family Company: Therm-A-Trol, Inc. (50th Anniversary) By Sam Desmond
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In a close-knit community like BBP, “family” expands well-beyond those we share a roof with. The Seitz family of Blue Point and town staple, Therm-A-Trol is the quintessential homegrown success story. Patriarch Bob Seitz moved to Blue Point during infancy and graduated from Blue Point elementary in 1952, Bayport High School in 1956. He remembers a storybook village of hotels in Blue Point to accommodate the vibrant “summering” community. After working for Al Druhm & Company for seven years, Bob took over with Al Druhm and Michael Dollop to start a new corporation called Therm-A-Trol, Inc., which continued to do plumbing, heating and air-conditioning, on April 1, 1967. Bob remained as President of the company after Druhm and Dollop went on to pursue other fields. And celebrating 50 years this spring, the company (located at 120 Division Avenue) has expanded, but always with family and community at its heart. Wife Linda, was a founding member of Bayport shopping favorite Country Junque, rounding out a family with deep devotion to maintaining neighborhood connections.
The second-generation of Therm-A-Trol stepped in when Bob’s eldest son and namesake, after serving in the U.S. Navy, came home to proudly spearhead Therm-A-Trol with his father. Tragically, Robbie passed at a tender young age of 47. The great loss, however, brought the family closer as the hollow of Robbie’s death brought in son Adam (BBP class of 1996) who also served in the U.S. Navy before returning home and daughter Carol (BBP class of 1981), a former Registered Nurse left her career to help with the family business. Carol is also active in the BBP Chamber of Commerce as co-chair of the Beautification Committee (who brought dashes of springtime cheer with hanging flowers and holiday coziness with Christmas garland to our hundreds of lamp posts). Rounding out the second-generation of family is Josh Ebner, who is like a third son to Bob and Linda, and possesses a paradoxical encyclopedic knowledge of the industry coupled with individualized system prowess that assures Therm-A-Trol a place at the table for future generations in heating/air conditioning.
Fueling the longevity of Therm-A-Trol is a prevailing sense of family that extends to life-long, as well as newly signed clients. “We have the absolute best clients,” Carol gushes, “they are always so appreciative of the superior knowledge and dedicated effort that has come to characterize our technicians and our brand.” With the myriad of older homes serviced by Therm-A-trol (which includes central and eastern Suffolk county), they encounter the frequent issue of updating older heating/air conditioning systems “When it comes to modernization, our first step is to optimize the original system; check duct work, filters, valves, determine the SEER (the efficiency) etc., of a UNIT. But when it comes to new system installations, we are absolutely fastidious in optimizing set-up. 80% of efficiency is in the correct installation, the rest is in the equipment, so an experienced and educated technician is of paramount importance,” Josh shared. Therm-A-Trol’s technicians have in excess of 150 years of combined experience, with Craig Neil leading the group at over 30 years of expertise.
While the Therm-A-Trol team is steadfast in mitigating emergency situations, they are also broad-thinking in anticipating market demand. “When the federal government banned the use of R-12 and R-22 Freon in air conditioning units, we were concerned for many of our clients who had older models and would be unable to replace the units in time for the ban. We bought masses of the replacement Nu-22 Freon in advance to be able to service clients who couldn’t afford to upgrade their system just yet,” recalled Bob when asked how Therm-A-Trol kept ongoing or anticipated repairs at bay.
In its celebrated 50 year history, Therm-A-Trol has always valued family and cherished employees and clients as family. Bookkeeper Joni (who came in when Lillian, her mother-in-law and 30-year employee of Therm-A-Trol, retired) proves the company’s commitment to continuing and expanding “family.” Bob states, “I’ve employed many kids in the community over the years [including the owner of Cavanaugh’s] and it’s all about doing your part well and giving back to let the community continue to thrive.”