Providing Comfort with Southern Hospitality
It was an ordinary weekday morning and Jason Fraser was sitting at his desk, smiling, yet quietly folding and unfolding a small piece of paper. He was, admittedly, a tad bit out of place.
I’m never here,” Fraser laughed while taking a quick glance around. “I prefer my mobile office.”
Three feet away, wife Laurie sat bright-eyed and energetic with their tiny dog, Haus, cradled in her arms. In contrast to her husband – Jason is the proud and hands-on owner of Southern Comfort Mechanical, a popular air conditioning/heating company in Lewisville – Laurie always is in the office doing behind-the-scenes stuff.
She agreed that it’s a rare treat when Jason isn’t feverishly taking care of customers in the field.
“I remember when he would come home late at night with these white salt rings on his shirt from all the sweat. I’d ask him, ‘Geez! Are you OK?’ ” Laurie laughed. “Even now, he’ll be out doing an install and I’ll have another work issue that I need help with…but I can’t get him out of the attic. He is a perfectionist, and he’s determined to make the quality of the work mirror that.”
This is one couple that isn’t afraid of a little hard work.
Jason and Laurie started Southern Comfort Mechanical eight years ago out of their house, which had one small office up front with a single computer. Luckily, they love working with each other. Call them the perfect partnership. Laurie even quit her job as an orthodontics assistant to answer calls, and in the meantime, was eager to learn every nook and cranny of Jason’s craft.
When Jason would come home late at night, they’d burn the midnight oil putting together bids for clients – because that was the only time they had to do it between work and raising a family. Both were learning to run the business
on the fly.
“It was crazy at times, but you do what you have to do,” Laurie said. “Jason would call me when he was subcontracting and say, ‘Hey, we’re hot, please go to the parts store and pick up some collars and dampers and come meet us.’ I’d get there, roll up my sleeves and want to
“It’s become a bit of a joke because we’ll get home together and ask, ‘So, how was your day?’ ”
Now, the once-fledgling company that for a short while required Jason to deliver pizzas during the slow season just to make ends meet, is a 12-hour-a-day job – on a slow day.
Southern Comfort Mechanical provides service to both residential and light commercial customers from the Lewisville and Flower Mound area to Denton and Dallas. The company can service any need and offers the latest in technological advances, including new installations, duct cleaning, Trane Wi-Fi Thermostats and REME Air Purification.
Jason and Laurie have seven employees, not including themselves, and moved into a new office last year.
Actually, the new office is a refurbished home located off Lake Park Road near Lake Park Golf Course, but it fits perfectly with their warm, inviting and “southern hospitality” atmosphere.
The goal, Jason & Laurie said, is to be able to sleep good every night knowing they bent over backwards for a customer to assure their satisfaction
“We are all about honesty and quality all while delivering it with our southern values,” said marketing manager Heather Sides. “Our technicians are the best of the best.”
The goal, Jason and Laurie said, is to be able to sleep well every night knowing they bent over backwards for a customer to assure their satisfaction. Jason got into the business and learned it from scratch while working for a man named Dale Peterson. Because Peterson did everything the right way, it allowed a young Jason to see the bad side of the business by having to fix previous contractors’ shoddy work.
“Sometimes I’ll walk into a homeowner’s house and one of the first things they’ll say is that they’ve always had problems with the system and that they’ve had 10 different companies come out,” Jason said. “You get to checking around and it’s something as simple as a return air duct that’s slightly undersized, and then they say, ‘Funny, you’re the first person to mention this.’ You start to wonder why no one else caught it before. We work for the customer. We don’t do what’s
easiest for us.”
Jason will forever be grateful to Peterson and the work moral he taught Fraser.
Sure, the folks at Southern Comfort Mechanical want to make money. However, it’s not uncommon for longtime technicians like Shane Dendy and Jason Mitchell to call into the office while on a service visit to recommend that they don’t charge the client for a problem that only took five minutes to fix.
And because Laurie prides herself on knowing the business, she has taught Sides and dispatcher Carrie Robinson to do the same. Oftentimes, this allows them to save a client money by troubleshooting issues over the phone.
Southern Comfort Mechanical does not charge overtime and its technicians rotate as the on-call technician for overnight issues.
Jason and Laurie come from a long line of family-owned businesses. Not only was Jason’s dad a hard-working father of six – he worked for 38 years, only calling in sick once the Wednesday before he died – Laurie also comes from an entrepreneur family. That includes her dad, Clyde Fisher, who owns Fisher Realty in Lake Dallas. Her brother, Chris, is the owner of a landscaping company called Southern Services.
It’s their work ethic and determination that Jason and Laurie try to emulate.
“To start from nothing and to build this to where we have it today, I still can’t believe it,” Jason said. “I’d never ask my employees to do something that I wouldn’t do on my own. And I trust my staff. It’s hard for me to let go sometimes because I’ve been doing this for so long, but it makes it easier when I know I have guys working with me who share the same mindset. It’s like they are an extension of me.”
Because of this, the rave reviews continue
to pour in.
Southern Comfort Mechanical is a Best of Denton County winner and also took home Angie’s List’s 2014 Super Service Award. The Fraser family is constantly busy, which says a lot considering they rely more on word of mouth instead of putting a lot of money into advertising.
“We live in this town, and a lot of our customers are now friends who we see at the grocery store,” Laurie said. “I swear, every time Jason sells a new system, the customers continue to call and ask him to dinner or to go ride motorcycles. We’ve developed some really good friendships. We didn’t ask for anything, we just did right by people and it just started happening.”
It has allowed Jason and Laurie to see their dream become a reality.
“I’ve told Laurie that if we ever started struggling like we did in the beginning, it could always go back to just her and I,” Jason said.
“A lot of people ask how I can stand working with my wife. We have a different type of relationship, though, and I can’t imagine working with
anyone else. Work wouldn’t be as fun.”
By Steve Gamel