The bugs were crawling at the Edd Helms Group, a business conglomerate in the trades in Sunrise, Fla.
Symbolically, of course; bugs are no laughing matter in that part of the country.
But for Edd Helms, the bugs in the software the business had been using were enough to prompt a change early in 2023.
“If you don’t evolve, you die,” said David Helms, Business Operations Manager at Gulfstream Controls, one of four businesses in Edd Helms.
Evolving meant adding ServiceTitan, the cloud-based software for the trades. Or, as Helms said: “Moving forward with the world.”
From Family Roots to Technological Triumph
Edd Helms Group is an interesting business with an interesting story. Founded in 1975 as Edd Helms Inc. by W. Edd Helms Jr., the business has served South Florida’s electrical needs for 50 years.
In 1994, it purchased McDonald Air Conditioning – which was founded in 1952, right at the advent of air conditioning in South Florida – and rebranded it Edd Helms Air Conditioning.
The Edd Helms Group now has 100 employees with 60 technicians. Its business unit includes Edd Helms Electric, Edd Helms Air Conditioning, Edd Helms Trade Shows & Events, and Gulfstream Controls, which implements building controls technology for HVAC systems.
Helms is the son of the owner, Wade Helms, who purchased the business from his brother in 2010. David grew up working wherever he could in Edd Helms -- inventory, cleaning the warehouse, etc. – but he didn’t plan to make the business his life’s work.
He graduated from college in 2010 with a degree in Information Technology and wound up interning with an IT consultant hired by Edd Helms. When the business grew to add Gulfstream – which David called “air conditioning plus computers” – he “ran with it,” he said.
Hired full-time in 2011, David has worked in various roles with Gulfstream, including sales, helping with engineering drawings, purchasing, dealing with customers, and project management. He also helped on the digital end, getting systems online and ensuring things worked as they should at the job site. In 2022, he was named Operations Manager.
“Once you start doing something, you don’t really stop,” he said. “I’ve always been involved with all kinds of things.”
Over time, his knowledge of computers and systems told him that the software Edd Helms had been using wasn’t what the business needed.
“We needed a software that was less buggy,” he said.
So he joined with Stacy Cusano, Contract & Service Administrator at the Edd Helms Group.
An employee since 2006, Cusano has been around the business for as long as she can remember. After starting work there in the early ‘90s, her father retired as a union electrician.
“I’ve been in the office selling Girl Scout cookies since I was little,” she said.
She started in purchasing and moved into accounts payable before working as dispatch supervisor for the HVAC service department.
“I’ve answered the phones for the front desk,” she said. “I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
Edd Helms had been using the same software since the early ‘90s. Cusano appreciated it, but also recognized it would not allow the business to do all it needed, especially because the mobile version service and projects did not integrate.
“And it wasn’t an all-in-one software,” David said.
A Voice for Improvement: Collaborating with ServiceTitan
All of that matters for a business that does a lot of commercial work.
The two became involved in the demo of ServiceTitan after the company CFO returned from a user conference at Trane. The CFO pointedly said Edd Helms Group should be looking at ServiceTitan.
Demos made clear the idea was worth pursuing, and late in 2022, Edd Helms became a ServiceTitan partner. Six months of sometimes-challenging onboarding followed. But six months later, the more Edd Helms uses ServiceTitan, the more it appreciates its value.
“ServiceTitan forces you to be accurate and pay attention,” David said.
And in the end, it reduces (his words) “wasted time.”
Cusano specifically mentioned dispatch as a strength of the software, which helps the entire company’s efficiency.
“I like that the technicians can see their calls for the day, that they can dispatch, arrive, complete, and all of that populates the time sheets,” she said. “Previously, Monday mornings were a mess for us. Not really a mess, but very time consuming.”
“I think the technicians being able to see the service history right there on their iPads and be able to add their notes and things like that is really helpful for us,” David said.
Building and enforcing workflows also became important with ServiceTitan.
“You have to follow the workflow,” Cusano said. “The workflow is there to be productive. I think there's plenty of tools in ServiceTitan to help.”
The fact that ServiceTitan can handle a business group that does so much varied work also matters. One software umbrella handles different entities under one business umbrella.
Finally, one element David greatly appreciates is the communication with ServiceTitan. He knows his concerns and ideas are heard, and that his input is appreciated.
“I feel like since we are primarily commercial, they’re looking for our type of feedback,” he said. “They're looking at contractors like us. And so it's a great compromise between the software company and the software user to help guide this stuff. And we do feedback sessions and I want to do everything I can to ensure they understand our needs.
“If you want to help guide this, you need to be involved and know what's going on. You want to be on the inside, not on the outside, you know what I mean?”
No chemical exterminator needed, thank you very much.