One-man commercial controls company helping businesses capitalize on automation
Andy Mickelson installs the iWorX system in a commercial building in Montana. Photo courtesy of Taco
In Big Sky country, cattle outnumber people. By a lot.
Rush hour typically consists of bison or big horn sheep crossing the road. Along Route 94 in Montana, even speed limits are lenient; locals call it the “Montanabahn.” This is Andy Mickelson’s world.
The young entrepreneur and hydronic craftsman thrives there. Mickelson brings mechanical wisdom and experience beyond his years to the western side of the state.
In 2011, he started Missoula-based Mickelson Plumbing and Heating. During his apprentice years with a large mechanical firm, Mickelson learned his way around big boilers.
Today, about 60 percent of his work is commercial – now growing through his experience with Taco’s iWorX modular controls platform.
“I can’t compete with controls companies,” he said. “That is, unless I have something they don’t.”
Commercial challenge, solved
For First American Title in Missoula, the problem with its building was simple: It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
“We had a big heating company try countless times to fix the problems, but nothing worked,” she said. “When the manufacturer of the original controls went out of business, there were no more replacement parts. So it was time to start from scratch.”
Word of mouth brought Mickelson to the scene; he won the bid to fix the problem. When he arrived at the 13,000-square-foot building, Mickelson inspected the entire two-pipe fan coil system. He found that the old controls were never right from the beginning.
“Taco’s iWorX controls are different from other systems because you don’t need special tools or software to do the installation or commissioning,” Mickelson said. “You just push a button on the controller, and it identifies itself on the network.
“The chiller was running non-stop though the cooling season, whether or not one of the air handlers was calling. With the new controls, we’re monitoring which zones are running, discharge temps and indoor feedback. Now the unit stages its operation just as it should.”
The system’s installation quickly made a difference. First American has saved between $300 and $400 a month on its electric bill, Serba said.
“There’s no telling how much we’re saving on maintenance costs,” she said. “The company we had trying to fix the old system was here at least once a week. Now, Mickelson just shows up when there’s preventative maintenance to be done.”
Having more individual control a building’s automation system enhances companies like Mickelson’s.
“Now that I’m able to do controls, my company truly is a full-system solutions provider,” he said. “Plumbing, heating, cooling; you name it, I do it. iWorX ties it all together. I learn about and fix an issue that comes up long before the building owner even realizes there’s a problem. With that kind of service, nobody’s looking for another contractor.”
Topics: Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Audit / Energy Management, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Great Commercial Buildings, HVAC - Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Interiors, Maintenance, Office Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design, Ventilation
Companies: Taco Comfort Solutions