Podcast Episode 33 | Custom Air Handlers – Best Practices for Unit Selection

Custom Air Handlers – Do THIS when designing your HVAC system …

This week George Paich from Alliance Air Products joins Brian Gomski and Troy Gladstone to discuss the most important thing to remember when selecting an air handler and the most important things NOT to do.

Alliance Air Products was established in 2004 as a custom retrofit air handler manufacturer, but has since grown into all areas of custom HVACR manufacturing. Alliance started business with 15 employees and 33,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. We have since grown to over 700 employees in 230,000 sq. ft. manufacturing space. Alliance is a privately held company with a very solid financial base, and has the capacity for rapid expansion in manufacturing capacity.

Whether you need is for a standard air handler, complex package system or specialized construction that modular units can’t handle, Alliance Air Products adds value by solving problems and giving you a solution that meets your needs. Our components are certified by an array of agencies including UL, AGA, CSA, ARI and AMCA. Our products are ETL listed.

Full show transcript:

Intro
Broadcasting around the world. This is engineering. Tomorrow, the podcast committed to bringing you the best in commercial construction design and engineering from the brightest minds in the industry. This is the stuff they don’t teach you in school. So sit back, relax, and open your mind. You’re about to get the insider knowledge to improve your next construction project or advance your career.

Intro
This is engineering. Tomorrow.

Brian
Hey, welcome to Engineering. Tomorrow, as usual. I’m your host, Brian Ski. It is as of right now, two days before Thanksgiving, 2022. It is November 2nd. We are all looking forward to a little bit of a long break. The last episode prerecorded was actually September 26th, which was about indoor agriculture. For those of you who are a little bit sporadic with the episodes, time does not exist and this will just be the next episode.

Brian
But this has been a episode in the making, and we’re really excited to have a couple industry veterans on today. George with Alliance and Troy with Midwest Machinery. We are going to be going over the top mistakes people make when selecting and laying out custom air handlers, as well as the most important things to think about when selecting custom units.

Brian
So do me a favor and sit back, relax. Grab yourself a coffee or a beer and get ready to start engineering for tomorrow.

Troy
Well, thank you for that intro. So when he says 30 year veterans, that means we’re just old George.

George
Ha ha ha. Speak for yourself.

Troy
Right. Okay, fine. I will speak for myself. Big mile marker and.

Brian
40, right? Yeah. 40, 40. Yeah. Plus 40.

Troy
Plus ten. Yes, exactly.

Brian
Well, why don’t you guys introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about your background. Troy, you’re a regular guest, so some of our people already know who you are, but maybe the the cliff note version.

Troy
Of the version and then tell a little story about why George is here. So I am president of Midwest Machinery Company. We have offices and headquartered in Saint Louis. Next year will be our 100 year anniversary, which is pretty cool. We’re planning the party now. Then we have offices in Kansas City, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. And then we’re in a joint venture with another company, Engineered Products, based in Denver, Colorado.

Troy
And but, you know, historically, our company has been associated with the wet side of the business and people working with us for, you know, 30 years probably think of us that way. But, you know, in the last 15 years, we’ve become much more of a systems related company and been seeking out a partnership with a custom air handler manufacturer for a while.

Troy
And you know what? We as a cooling tower company, you know, as a company that works with cooling towers quite a bit, we have the benefit of working on big projects. So big chilled water projects, you know, at hospitals or universities where they have big chillers, they have cooling towers and they have generally a custom air handler. So it’s always been a good fit for us.

Troy
We just haven’t found the right partner. And in our research we searched high, low and long and wide and talked to a lot of manufacturers and we kept getting referred back to Alliance Air Products. And so I think maybe it was a year ago, George, that we started talking and met a few times and convinced them that maybe they should give us a try.

Troy
And so our relationship with alliances started about six months ago. It’s a pretty I don’t know why we’re keeping it a secret. We’re not trying to keep it a secret, but we still find people that haven’t heard about it. So our hope is that with this podcast, everybody gets to know a little bit more about Alliance, their products, a little bit about George.

Troy
Why it’s a good fit for Midwest Machinery Company and hopefully why it’s a good fit for them. So, George, all of that to say we’re very pleased to be representing Alliance Air Products. In the short time that we’ve had, we’ve we’ve been able to win a successful project or to go our irons in the fire. And we liked the momentum that we’re building with you guys.

Troy
So if you can take a couple of minutes, talk about maybe a little bit about your background and industry in this field, why should anybody trust what you have to say? And then maybe a little bit about Alliance Air Products.

George
Thanks. Thanks, Troy. Well, first of all, we are very happy to have you guys as our representative in your territories. You guys have been doing an awesome job. Your go getters. And we truly do appreciate that. As far as talking about me, I don’t think I can want myself to you for I mean, that’s a great introduction. So I might just have to say, yeah, I’ve been in a business 30 years.

George
It has actually been just about at 30 years. You know, I got into this business originally when I first came out of school doing pumps and mechanical sealing devices, and I did a little stint in the electrical industry. I was a lighting specialist for a large electrical distributor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, but then got back into the mechanical industry after I took a job transfer out to Colorado.

George
When a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to get into a joint venture with a startup company, and I was like, Sure, why not give it a try? And you know, it just it’s been a dream ever since. It’s working for Alliance Air Products as their director of sales is. It’s the best job that anybody can really have.

George
And I say that and I have goosebumps thinking about it because I mean, I really love what I do. I love coming to work every day. I mean, I don’t mind getting up at 4:00 in the morning. Why not? But, you know, this is this is a fantastic company to work for. You know, we build customer healing equipment and that is something that I dream about.

George
I really am intrigued by everything that goes into the behind the scenes preparation of putting together a piece of equipment and then seeing the final product when it’s on the job site. That’s that’s a big thrill for me.

Troy
Yeah. So, you know, in all of our conversations, Brian, you probably remember a lot of these meetings that we had. We met, I think with three or four different manufacturers. What we quickly noticed with with Alliance and we started with one of alliance’s owners who lives in San Diego, and then he introduced me to you and Luis Placentia, who’s the president of the company.

Troy
And every encounter that we had, you know, obviously starting with senior leaders like yourselves. But then even as we toured the plant and the factory, the facility, everywhere we ran into, we were met with enthusiasm, which is one of my most I just love if I’m interviewing somebody or talking with a customer or anybody and they have enthusiasm, they’ve got me.

Troy
And that’s what I think we all walked away from immediately with. Alliance was just the level of enthusiasm that everybody had, and this was in the middle of the pandemic when certainly there was plenty of reasons for people to be Molly grubby and not enthusiastic about things. So honestly, that’s what sold us with you guys and we’ve been happy ever since.

Troy
So maybe tell us a little bit about Alliance and what I when I go around and introduce alliance to our customers will generally say it’s the biggest customer handler manufacturer that you’ve never heard of. Or maybe never dealt with. I think a lot of that is because customer handlers tend to be regional. A lot of times you’ll have companies in the Northeast or Upper Midwest or Canada or, you know, in your case you’re associated with a West Coast manufacture.

Troy
So sometimes here in St Louis, for example, they may not have heard of Alliance and be unaware that you’re one of the probably top three or four or five manufacturers in North America. So go ahead. Tell us a little bit about that origin story.

George
Yeah, that that has a lot of truth to it. Well, company was started in 2004 was started by a gentleman by the name of Tom Seaver. Tom had worked for another air handling company and had left it. And then got involved with like a couple of guys here in the south part of California and with, I’ll call it a somewhat small investment started the company we started in a 30,000 square foot warehouse and it was pretty much just an empty warehouse.

George
And we were able to build things inside of it. And the business that we went after whenever we first started was retrofit business because we only had 15 employees at the time. We had one sheer machine, we had one brake machine, we had one forklift, 15 employees. And I mean, you can’t build a whole lot of equipment with just 15 guys, right?

George
So, you know, our guys would physically go out to a job site and measure a air handler that was going to be retrofitted, you know, do a site survey, figure out where the dock locations had to be, the electrical, everything that comes along with that particular air handler that’s going to be retrofitted. And then they would come back and draw everything up by hand on paper, put a submittal together with a typewriter, and then take it out.

George
And, well, not a typewriter, but a computer, and then take it out, get it approved, and then come back and build it and then be there whenever the piece of equipment went into service. So that’s how we cut our teeth into the business. And now we’ve grown. We’re in our third building. We’ve got 240,000 square feet of manufacturing facility.

George
You know, it’s the manufacturing facility is located in Tijuana, Mexico. Our headquarters are in San Diego. That’s where our main offices are at. But our our facilities over here in Tijuana, Mexico. And that’s where we do go. That’s where the magic happens to be quite honest.

Troy
Yeah. I want to follow up with that because we did go down there and visit the manufacturing facilities and were blown away, but go back to the origin story. When the founders decided to start this business, you said oh four. Is that what you said before?

George
Right.

Troy
Okay. In oh four, what were the circumstances in the industry that caused them to say, we need to go do this? Was it just, you know, plenty of demand and not enough capacity? Did somebody think they had a better mousetrap? What caused them to start this business?

George
I’ve heard a couple different versions of it.

Troy
Okay. One, give us the most comedic one, then, please.

George
All right. The most comedic one was, hey, if if we don’t start a company, we’re going to be out of work. So they started the company? No, it’s you know, you brought something up a little bit earlier, is that you you tend to see a lot of custom air handling manufacturers as being regionalized. Right. So you’ve got guys on the West Coast, you’ve got guys sort of central, you’ve got guys on the East Coast, Northeast, southeast, but you don’t see a whole lot of shipping cross country from both sides.

George
We’re a little bit different with that. And one of the reasons that I say that is because where we’re actually located, we’ve got the capability of great distribution through this corridor here. And that’s pretty much because Tijuana is a huge area in Mexico for production for what we call maquiladoras, which are foreign companies that have a assembly or some type of production facility here in Mexico, you know, through the Tijuana border, you’ve got like $1,000,000,000 of business that goes across that border every day both ways.

George
So it’s super busy here all the time. Plus, we have super great quality as far as people are concerned. You know, our employees, a lot of them are sheet metal workers. So, you know, when they come to us, they’ve already got some experience and what they’re going to be doing. And that makes for a really super good product.

George
And that’s pretty much the whole reason to why the company got started. And being here in Tijuana is because we wanted to build a quality piece of equipment and be able to supply the market in the United States. The original thought was, Yeah, let’s just start regionally, which was Southern California, Nevada, Arizona. That’s pretty much the three states that we cut our teeth on.

George
But then we started to see that we got more and more requests to, Hey, I want to represent your company. When I came along with the company, you know, we had at that time a handful of representatives selling our product, and now we go the whole waste to the northeast. So, you know, we’ve got representation in New Jersey and New York City and, you know, the Virginia area and then come down through the central part of the United States, the whole ways on the West Coast, up through Seattle and we’ve grown the business with the intent of growing it, but not to be just grow it so fast that you can’t keep up with it.

George
So we were and Troy Bryan, you’ll probably agree with his statement. It took us a while to make a decision on whether or not we were going to bring you guys aboard. And we wanted to make sure that we had the right fit because we don’t just look at as our representatives, as just our customers. We look at you guys as family.

George
We really do.

Troy
Know. We appreciate that. And it was definitely noticed that the amount of time it took for you guys to get to it. Yes. So we’ll remember that for quite a while. But no, seriously, it we’re thankful that we’ve always known that the longer it takes to get into a relation ship, the more valued that relationship will be when it succeeds.

Troy
So no hard feelings on that one, George.

George
Not a problem. You know, one other thing to point out, we don’t you know, we’re a big company, right? But we don’t think that way. We don’t think, you know, just being a number, everybody in this organization knows each other by their name. And, you know, it’s no problem for me to walk out onto the floor and have a conversation with somebody out there because they know who I am and I know who they are.

George
So we keep that family way of thinking. And I think that’s probably one of the reasons that we’ve been so successful.

Troy
Oh, completely. And I think I have a humorous story about that. When one of the first times I came to visit you guys, it was with we wanted to go see your factory and tour the facility. And so, you know, getting across the border, you know, there’s techniques to expedite the process. And so you guys said, hey, meet us at this location near the border and we’ll pick you up and take your cross and.

Troy
Okay, sure. Fine. No problem. We have our passports. Everything ready? And I think there were three or four of us. And, you know, right on the dot, I think it was 9:00, a white pickup truck pulls up, nothing fancy. Gentleman rolls down the window, says, hey, are you with Midwest machinery? Cool. Yeah. Yep, that’s us. He’s like, What happened?

Troy
So we piled in. I think we surprised you guys with more people coming than. Than what you had thought. So we literally piled into this truck and as you know, the guy in the front seat and forgive me, I’ll forget his name, but I think it’s part of your quality control group. Dave introduced himself and then Louise, who was driving, said, I’m Luis and I put two and two together as a way to say, okay, this is a president of the company.

Troy
So it was pretty cool that, you know, just a nondescript pickup truck comes by, picks us up and and they’re, you know, carpooling themselves and bringing us down to the plant. And that that, to me, made it feel very much like family. So I would agree. But good. But it was interesting on our way down, because I’ve never been to Tijuana before, and you kind of have maybe some preconceived notions about what manufacturing in Mexico might be.

Troy
And so we get into town and I was blown away at the vast amount of very large manufacturing facilities. And, you know, Fortune 100 names that you guys can count as your neighbors. Yes. So we pulled up, I think you’re right across the street from a huge Coca-Cola facility. I think there’s maybe even some competitors in that marketplace.

Troy
And anyway, we pulled up and we walked in to the plant and it was the busiest plant I’ve ever seen in terms of just the amount of people actively working on equipment and projects and a really super organized fashion. And so Luis gave us the tour of the facility, and I think the most proud moments that you guys had was when you were talking about the team that was building the equipment and what you guys do in an effort to take care of those folks.

Troy
You would be able to tell the stories better than I do. But what impressed us was that you have on site medical facilities onsite catering facilities. If people need a ride to work, you find a way to make that happen, all in an effort to, you know, have great careers for folks in that valley and in turn, produce a really great product for folks like us.

Troy
So it was it was an impressive, really awesome plant.

Brian
Hey, George, can you give us a kind of a walk through what? The plant, I guess, how many employees you have and then a walk through of the plant and then hopefully we can add some pictures to the video, I’m sure. Kind of in post-production.

George
Sure. Not a problem. Yeah. So right now we’re a little over 700 employees. We run a couple of shifts. Sometimes we run three shifts. Depends on if we need to, you know, if we’ve got a big project or something like that and we’ve got to prepare a little bit ahead of time, then we’ll put a third shift on.

George
So we’re flexible where that’s concerned with our employees as far as the facility is concerned, we’ve got a full sheet metal department within that department. We’ve got a Salvadorian machine, we’ve got a modern machines, manual brake machines, things like that. So we’re we’re quite automated in the sheet metal department outside of that, once metal gets cut and bent, we’ve got a full welding department that has 80 welders in it and they do pretty much nothing all day long, except for welding basses, which is our standard way of building equipment.

George
We do a structural C channel welded steel base. We also offer other options as well as far as metals are concerned. But that’s what those guys do all day long. We also build our own enclosures through name three are for we we purchase right now but we’ll have a4x enclosure here pretty soon so all that stuff gets done in that department.

George
We have a automated paint line and that is basically just to make sure that we’re painting all of our equipment on the inside and the outside or outside and the inside, I should say. We also have a paint booth. So if we have custom colors that we don’t normally paint within our our automated paint line, then we could go ahead and do something fancy.

George
As a matter of fact, I just sent four pieces of equipment to Las Vegas, and it’s the coolest dark gray metal flake that I see it as a matter of flake. It looks like the paint on my car. Mm.

Troy
It is cool. So I mean what caused somebody to do metal flake in their hand or is it that close to people that they might see it or do they just have a standard that everything that goes on, this building’s going to be cool.

George
It is in an area, it’s unhealthy. It’s in an area that it’s close by the street and they don’t want it to look just like your regular old battleship. Great.

Brian
Cool. Awesome. So.

George
So, so that’s paint department. And then the rest of the rest of the area. I mean, then we’ve got store room area where we obviously inventory stuff and then the rest of the area then is for production. So that could be stand in place production or that could be an assembly line production.

Brian
Okay. So I’m kind of segueing to that. What makes Alliance specifically unique when we’re talking about air handlers?

George
Oh, well, first of all, I mean, we’re we’re flexible. You know, we we don’t we don’t just build a standard piece of equipment and call it good. Right. So being a custom air handling manufacturer, that allows us to be able to pretty much fit whatever your requirements are going to be. I mean, our facility is tall enough that we can build three storey buildings or three storey your air handlers in here, you know, we chase arena in in the Bay Area.

George
That’s all of our equipment on there. And each one of those air handlers are three stories. So they’re huge. They’re massive, right? I mean, you could build we could build like three at a time and, you know, had to still have area on the rest of the floor that we could build other equipment. But, you know, that’s unique about us.

George
Our design department, our guys are veterans here. I mean, all of my guys that work in my applications group have been in this industry and for a long time and have been working for us. I think the least years that I’ve got an employee right now is four years. So he started right around the time, right after I started with the company.

George
So they’re experienced in what they do and they know in their design how to put it together and not make mistakes. You know, we do a lot of things by hand. We do have a software program that we utilize to layout equipment. However, a lot of this stuff is going to be done by hand, so we’ll do a physical cad drawing sometimes to make sure that everything is going to properly fit within the air.

Troy
Handler Yeah, that’s what’s been nice in our tenure with you so far. It’s been great because yes, there’s software that we’ll use to try to get a project to maybe the 80 percentile, and then we’ll kick it to you guys to run it through your filter. And sure enough, you have different ways to skin a cat. Maybe be able to, you know, shrink it one way, grow it another way and really optimize the selection.

Troy
So that’s been I would I would echo that our experience has been that you’re very flexible, adaptable, especially where where you know that that flexibility and adaptability can add value to the project.

George
TIME Yeah, and Troy, you guys know, you know, when you send us a project, we have a conversation about it. First, let’s make a decision. Is this something that’s worthwhile going after? You know, a lot of times I’ll get something from whomever and I’ll have a ten megs worth of or a hundred meg worth of documents and or maybe two gigabytes worth of documents, something too large to send in an email that to me, you know, our guys are going to take a look at that and they’re going to say, oh, time out.

George
This is what I need to know. And then we’ll get on the telephone with you and pretty much do an interview to find out what this job actually is. You know, what is being done in the facility. I mean, you could tell me it’s an MLB, but maybe it’s got something, you know, maybe it has a lab inside of the medical office building, too, that just so happens that it needs to be maybe a higher level laboratory because they’ve got some bad stuff in there, right?

George
So just throwing a regular old air handler into an MLB and it has a lab in it is not necessarily the answer. So these are the things that we’re thinking about all the time.

Troy
Yeah, we’ve seen that. Okay, so if we’re talking about uniqueness, we’ve got adaptability or flexibility. Give me another thing that makes Alliance unique.

George
Well, you know, we were talking about the company a little bit before in being here in Tijuana, though, although we are here in Tijuana, we are some people don’t know this. We are actually a registered agent with the U.S. government under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act section 1605. So being that registered agent, that enables me to build biomerica products or projects in the United States.

George
So if you have something that is in the U.S. that has that stipulation on it, then yeah, by all means, just let us know about that kind of stuff. You know, other things that we have, you know, we’re, we’re iPod certified. So if it’s a seismic, you know, type of of application, we can build plant equipment.

Troy
Yeah, definitely a concern here in St Louis.

George
Yes. Yeah. You have one of the biggest seismic zones there, the entire you.

Troy
Do it literally any time I’ve.

Brian
Been doing this, I was four years old. So where do.

Troy
We.

Brian
Do someday? It’ll all pay off. All this seismic.

Troy
Sorry for the sleepless nights.

George
So I actually I actually have a application on my phone that’s called Quake Feed. And I got a notification this morning that we actually had a earthquake. And actually it was South Mexico. Acapulco, actually. So yeah. But yeah, I keep it there so I can, you know, get the little notifications. But, you know, it says you had a 1.3, you know, an earthquake here and it was in this location.

George
I’m going, God, I didn’t feel anything.

Brian
The the kid, you know, this all this is a confusing thing in our industry. What’s there in by America and by American.

George
A lot of people could do buy American because it deals with percentages of the materials that were going to be used inside of the equipment. Right. So Buy America is a lot stricter than Buy American. So think of it as Buy American. A lot of people can. The percentages are much smaller. I mean, in reality, in today’s world, there’s a lot of product that’s not manufacture shirt.

George
In the United States, it comes from overseas. You know, you can buy a fan that might have parts that were manufactured in China and in a Buy America application. That percentage of that might just throw that out because it doesn’t meet the thresholds. Right. And then you’ve got Buy America. That would be the Federal Transportation Administration funded, and that is super strict.

George
Right. So that’s everything has to be built in the United States kind of an application. But in reality, it does not necessarily have to be all put together in the United States. You can we can actually. I mean, I’ve done a lot of projects that are FDA funded. The the whole trick to that, it’s not really a trick.

George
There’s there’s a procedure that you’ve got to go through. And that is I’ve got to know upfront that it is funded by the Transportation Administration, one, two, we have to get involved along with you, our representative and the engineer and the construction organization or the general contractor, to pre-qualify us as being able to build or bid on this particular product or project.

George
The the key thing there is the communication in the very beginning. So if you do have FTA funded projects, just let us know.

Troy
Back to what makes Alliance unique. I’m the third one in, you know, through the pandemic and material shortages. It’s been a breath of fresh air to get proposals from you on projects. And, you know, frankly, it’s been a winning factor in the job or two for us as your lead times. So I would say without a doubt, you guys have the industry best lead time in custom, and it’s not because of lack of demand.

Troy
You know, the plant is running multiple shifts, but somehow through all of this, you’ve been able to have a lead time that is often less than half of the competitors that we’re we’re looking at. So you know, we’re quoting jobs with units that are 60,000 CFM and, you know, pretty custom units. And we’re at 22 to 26 weeks when we’re hearing our competitors are out past a year.

Troy
Explain that a little bit.

George
Yeah, well, that’s going to be a chill water out water system for sure. But, you know, D access custom D X is going to be a good bit longer. You know, you’re going to be in your 30 weeks, but still yet there’s a lot more piping that’s indexer and control systems like that. So I mean, it takes a lot more or a lot more time to get that all completed.

George
How do we do it? Manage management?

Troy
Yeah, because they don’t give us the secrets you give us just a little bit.

George
No, it’s just look, I mentioned before that, you know, we look at you as family, we look at our suppliers as family as well. We’ve got you know, we’re connected to everybody that we need to be connected to within our suppliers organizations. And we make sure that we work with them daily to ensure that we’re going to get product here on time.

George
We don’t just work with one supplier for a particular type of product. We work with multiples. So if and everybody knows if they can’t produce it fast enough, I’m probably going to go to their competitor and get it. They’re right. Everybody knows the electronics. You know, supply chain right now is just completely upside down. It’s hard to get anything, but we find a way somehow, some way to make that happen.

George
You know, we’ve got internal project managers that all they do all day long is once a project goes to the production or release to production, they take over to make sure that all of the proper materials and components are ordered. They make sure that the customer’s communicated to of when the expectations are to receive that product. They communicate with our suppliers on a daily basis and to make sure that we are getting those materials on time.

George
They communicate within our own internal organizations to make sure that everything is scheduled and coordinated. So when material gets here, there’s it’s going to hit here at 3:00. I know by 4:00 I have to have that at that particular piece of equipment so that we can build it. So there’s a whole lot of behind the scenes that goes on.

George
We talked about this in the very beginning. That’s all the stuff that nobody ever sees. They only see this big box and it provides, you know, warmer, cool air. And there’s a whole lot more that goes on behind it.

Troy
Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure. I think I can tell you a little bit.

George
One guy, I think I am a little disappointed in our lead times. At one time I was 12 weeks.

Troy
Yeah, well, I look forward to that. But right now we’re going to go back there and tell you. Another thing that I think adds to your lead times is that if you can’t buy it quick enough, you’ll make it so. I know that you guys also make your own fan sometimes when needed. So I think that there’s a little bit more vertical integration and some other people have, and then I think the biggest differentiator is that you’re privately owned and held, and I think that allows you as a manufacturer to spend money when you need to maybe sometimes overspend money in order to make something happen and carry inventory.

Troy
You’re just able to make decisions for the health of the customer and the health of yourselves rather than, you know, 100,000 shareholders. So I think that’s make make the difference for you.

George
It makes a big, big difference. And I think that all goes along with the we think like a family.

Troy
Yeah. Yeah.

Brian
So I have one more point. Something that really impressed me is your quality control measures, because it’s one thing to say I’ve got fast lead times, but if it shows up and three things are on, it are broken and the customers are, you know, contractors are yelling at us or whoever. That’s a whole nother thing. So tell us about your quality control measures you have when you’re building these.

Brian
Sure.

George
Now, sometimes we can’t stop things from breaking when they’re shipping. Sure. It’s a big it’s a big box and it does get bounced around a good bit. But we try to go through every step possible to make sure that things like that don’t happen. So when, you know, we ship boxes or filters or whatever the case be inside of an air handler, we’re going to make sure that all that stuff gets tied down so it doesn’t get shaken around as it’s driving.

George
You can’t do anything about, you know, an accident, but you can try to make sure that your equipment’s going to get to the job site the way that it needs to, the way that it left this factory. So for that reason, for example, part of our quality process is that all of our transportation guys, all of our freight guys have to use chains and shackle down the equipment on their beds.

George
It is forbidden to ever strap a piece of equipment leaving this yard. If we see and when equipment gets loaded onto trucks, our transportation department is physically out there making sure that everything is done properly. And if they ever see somebody pull out canvas strap and, you know, go throw it over the top of a piece of equipment, they’ll take it away from them.

George
So those are things that we make sure happen. But as far as quality is concerned, David, our quality manager comes from the medical industry, the medical device industry. So he is all about crossing T’s, dotting the I’s, making sure that everything is as perfect as it possibly can be. And that’s the that he uses when he puts all together his or his quality programs together here for us here at the factory, he has a group of people that work for him that all they do all day long is inspect.

George
We make sure that we look at things that, for example, if we see frayed wire or something like that and it happens, his guys are going to catch things like that and it’s going to get fixed before we send it out. Right. And if there would ever be something that for whatever purpose, you know, it was broken here at the factory or maybe I don’t know, maybe something came in damage or something like that.

George
It’s his organization that does all that for inspecting of componentry and materials as it’s coming into the factory to make sure that they catch it and to make sure that before it leaves the factory, it’s in perfect working condition. So super strict. I will tell you, some of the guys on the floor, when they see the quality guys come around, they’re not too happy.

George
But he’s done a super great job with our organization for that. And and one of the other things that we can do is a lot of times, you know, will build for customers that may have a job or a specific quality program, or maybe it’s a big enough organization that they have their own quality programs. So David does a great job of integrating their programs into our program to make sure that we follow their guidelines as we’re inspecting equipment.

Troy
Well, before we get too far down, talking about Alliance, I think it’d be a shame to have somebody that’s been in the industry for 30 years tell us some of the some of the do’s and don’ts that you’ve come across. So, George, if you think about the hundreds of opportunities that you see or projects that you’ve been on, whether alliance or other stops, give us, you know, think about engineer.

Troy
What are some of the, you know, three or four big mistakes that people make either in the application or design of air handlers that you think we should try to avoid.

George
One one thing you in particular, and I’ll start it this way is, you know, I spent a bunch of years as a representative, so in your shoes, right. So, you know, if you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it. It’s coming out of your pocket, right? So you learn what to not do when you make the mistake.

George
The first time. Sometimes you make it a second time. Not a good not a good thing the second time, that’s when you hit yourself in a head right. But I’ve taken that and brought it into the manufacturing part of the business. Right. So I think that that’s what makes me a little more unique is because I understand both sides of the fence.

George
You know, we’re not just a manufacturer, a supplier. Here’s a box. Thank you. We’re there full service to support you. The whole way to support you, our customer. Right so that you can support your customer. That’s the key thing. So everything rolls, you know, and it gets bigger. And we don’t we don’t want to have a big snowball at the end.

George
We want the snowball to be the same size once the job is finished. But mistakes and and I learned this being a representative is if you don’t measure twice and cut once, then you’re going to have to cut it again. Right. And everybody knows that rule. So that’s a super critical thing to do when you’re doing a retrofit project.

George
It’s really important to know what is going on at the job site itself because you don’t want your contractor to call you up and say, Hey, Troy, I got a problem. This piece of equipment that you sold me is not fitting the curb the way that you said it was. So sending information and and getting as much information as possible is really critical.

George
And that doesn’t just start with you guys. That goes the whole ways to the owner. If I mean, they’re contacting somebody to replace an air handler, we got to get that a guy involved because he’s got critical information as build drawings, things like that of that piece of equipment that he has there. And it’s not just as simple as saying, give me a model X, Y, Z, one, two, three, because there’s not a whole lot of that information that you can find out there in a lot of that stuff was done by hand.

George
So it’s really super important to know exactly what’s going on with the piece of equipment in a retrofit application at the job site. Super important. What’s going on at the actual site, even if it’s not a retrofit application. You know what are my dimensional restraints that I need to be looking at whenever I’m designing the equipment? You know, you can say, give me a standard 30,000 CFM air handler and I’m going to give you what my standard box size is going to be for that.

George
But when I send it to the engineer, then the engineer’s going to look at that. It’s like, Oh, no, no, no, no, I need this to be, you know, four feet shorter. And, you know, you’re going to have to cram everything in there. Well, most people think that. Yeah, four feet shorter, cram everything in there. That’s not the answer.

George
I mean, the reason you’re buying a custom air handler is because you want a piece of equipment that’s going to last you 30, 40 years, first off. Second off, you want a piece of equipment that is going to operate properly. So just forcing air into a duct doesn’t always work. You got to think about what is around the rest of the building and how is this traveling and things like that.

George
I don’t need to see the entire duct work layouts, but I do need to know what is this feeding? So those are two really super important things is make sure you are aware of your surroundings and make sure twice cut once to report.

Troy
I’m glad you brought up the retrofit and not to go back to sounding like an advertisement, but to all of our contractors and users out there that might be listening to this. We know of a lot of projects that were postponed or delayed for another year or so because of manufacturer lead time. So what you’re hearing here is Alliance does a great job with Retrofit and they take a lot of care and detail to make sure that especially on the retrofit, that field measurements are taken properly so that you can, you know, get the installation done as needed.

Troy
But that also brings into account that you guys will do knock down and field built air handlers for retrofit applications. Right.

George
Exactly. And we we can do that in a number of different ways. So if you’ve got super small door openings just telling me that it’s a 36 inch wide door with a seven foot height on it is not good enough. I need to know what’s down the hallway beyond that door because your unit at 30,000 cfm, it’s going to be short, but it’s going to be really wide and you might not be able to make a turn to get it into the mechanical room that it has to go into.

George
So we need to know these things upfront because we’re going to recommend directly to you. You don’t want to build this as split sections, you want to build this as knocked down construction. So you either we either build it and fit it together and put it on a truck and ship it to you and you take it apart and then reassemble it on the site or I put everything on pallets, which is a lot easier and, and I promote pallets construction, although it costs a little bit more to do pallets construction.

George
You save yourself in the long run because you don’t have to take pieces of equipment apart and then put it back together again. So it’s super important to do that.

Troy
All right. I’m going to hijack the agenda a little bit because there’s two more this I keep coming up with things that I want to ask you about it when we talk to customers, a couple of big topics are one is, you know, how do we seal the unit against leaks? And every manufacturer has a different take on that.

Troy
I’d like to get your take on it. And number two, talk about sound and sound performance and attenuation, because I think you guys have an interesting story with sound as well. So take those however you want, one or two or two and one. But you talk to that.

George
Well, we’ll talk sound first. Sounds. Sound can be super important or sound can be important. I won’t necessarily say sounds never important because we have a project that we’re working on right now that it’s not important in the facility that this unit’s cooling. But it is important on the outside because it generates too much noise. Think of it this way.

George
If we’re building a piece of equipment and you’re in a city area and this building that happens to be a little taller, this building is in there, piece of equipment right here. And you’ve got people living in apartments here. They’re going to hear those condenser fans going off all the time. So coming up with the proper design of what components to use in there is going to be a super critical thing for exterior sound, right?

George
Nobody wants to hear, you know, going off. I try to try to make sound effects. I can’t do it very well.

Troy
Well, nobody went. Don’t worry.

George
No, no, thanks. Nobody wants to hear it. They want to make sure that it’s keeping them comfortable, but they don’t want to hear it. Right. But in those applications where sound is important or possibly critical libraries, concert halls, you know, believe it or not, anything that you build is going to have some sound requirement to it. But it’s not always important.

George
And this is sometimes I see I see this with having an acquisition, looking at equipment that they’re thinking that the particular building needs to be like a library, but it doesn’t need to be like a library. So sometimes you can build too much sound attenuation that into a unit that might not necessarily be required. But sound is always important.

George
How do you do it? There’s a lot of different ways to do it. I mean, you know, thicker walls, different types of insulation, a attenuation inside the air handler. And there’s different types of attenuation that you can use inside of an air handler. You know, changing to a 12 blade will on a fan can reduce sound. You know, maybe changing the materials on the will might help out maybe using vibration isolation on it.

George
Those are all kinds of things that can help out in reducing sound, you know, maybe using a an isolation curb under your air handler to help reduce sound. So there’s there’s a lot of things that can be done to make sure that your air handler is operating the way that it needs to. Where it’s just thinking where sound you may think might not be important.

George
You might be surprised.

Brian
Yeah.

Troy
I guess it all depends on who’s the tenant and how close to the machine they are. That’s that’s our experience.

George
Well, think of going to a concert hall.

Brian
Oh.

George
Yeah, a rock concert hall. And believe it or not, sound is important. I mean, they’re running concerts, 108 DB or more and sound is actually important there.

Troy
Yeah, it’s interesting. I was told outside you can edit this out later. I was in church, we go to the same church and they screwed up the sound because it was 115 decibels in our church a couple of weeks ago. And there’s no way I would have been able to hear a fan what the the the thing that I’d say about sound that I was impressed with working with Alliance so far is we’re looking at a project now and we are not basis of design, but the basis of design unit has a lot of attenuation on it, expensive attenuation and attenuation that’s causing the lead time to be much longer.

Troy
And the manufacturer who is basis of design is not known to build a robust unit, whereas or with alliance, we’re taking a different look at it. That is really looking at, well, let’s look at the unit first and make sure we’re building that sound and structurally solid so that it is not making as much noise that we then have to attenuate downstream.

Troy
And so that’s that’s where I think that alliance has a leadership opportunity to leverage. So let’s talk about sealing and metal. The metal contact and all of those buzzwords that we have in the in the custom world.

George
All right. So we’re old school and our thought approached for for thermal break we use like a lot of manufacturers still use today a gasket a type system inside of our air handlers to stop that metal bridging or that thermal bridging from going between the inside and the outside of the air handler the the construction of the unit has a lot to play with the amount of leaking that you’re going to have on your piece of equipment.

George
So if you use flimsy screws, you’re going to get flimsy results. So we don’t do that kind of thing. We use way better quality when we’re constructing our walls and the rest of the equipment. We we although we can do a bolted bass, we don’t do many bolted basis. A matter of fact, we probably, I think, have done three in my career with with Alliance Air Products and they’re working perfectly fine and it’s how we put them together.

George
But, you know, using, using a tech screw is not going to do it. Building structure into your wall, a very important thing. And it’s because it stops your unit from racking right when you’re lifting it up, it’s metal. It’s going to bend. It’s just how it goes.

Troy
So the sheet metal box.

George
Exactly. So if you build a structure into your walls, that makes a big difference. The the insulation that we talked about on the floor is important to make sure that you’re sealing any potential leakage that could be coming out of the floor as well. I won’t get into all of the trade secrets that you know, how we build our equipment, but I’ll just I’ll leave it as building your box properly will net you lower leakage rates.

George
Okay. And that’s a super important thing. If you need a higher percentage than you need to build a thicker wall and more structure into the wall to ensure that in a high pressure application, you’re not going to leak it out of the unit. But one thing I will say about leakage and I don’t mean to offend anybody with this, but if you ask for a class two leakage rate, which is less than a half percent at 12 inches of total static pressure on an air handler and it’s only a 4000 CFM air handler, you’re never going to get to 12 inches of total static pressure unless it’s a super highly specialized piece of equipment.

George
So just please, we’d like to see when we get plans and specifications that the the leakage classification or the leakage rates that you’re looking for reflect what you’re actually designing.

Troy
So that sounds like a great second podcast for us to do with you. Some time to get into some more details, leakage and sound design. So I think we’re probably getting close to running out of time. But you know, if I were to summarize what hopefully our listeners have heard is that alliance kind of stands alone in terms of being able to provide a very custom air handler at exceptional quality and very good lead times.

Troy
And frankly, that’s what I want our customers to hear. And then I’d like to add to that a little about Midwest Machinery Company. If you haven’t worked with us in a customer handler application, we also have people on staff with considerable experience in customer handlers. We’ve, you know, got one of our product champions, worked at a major, I will say, another top three custom air handler manufacturer as an application engineer for three years.

Troy
So in terms of the amount of opportunities that he’s seen and built proposals on, it’s probably more than I’ll see in a lifetime. And then we’ve got other folks on our team that have worked for, you know, the big three or four chillers, large air handler manufacturers and been through their training program. So we Midwest Machinery Company, if you haven’t, if you think of us as an air site or a water site company and you haven’t really thought about us as an air site company, do consider it.

Troy
We’ve got the experience to be able to help you on your projects. But before I go, the most important question. Two days prior to Thanksgiving is any special Thanksgiving traditions and what is your favorite side dish?

George
Oh my God.

Troy
And you stand a chance to, you know, alienate family members that bring side dishes that you don’t care for. And I’m sure all your family members will be listening to this podcast.

George
I’m not going to be picky this year because I’m going to be in the middle of Mexico for Thanksgiving. So it’s getting it catered. So we say.

Brian
There we go.

George
But I know it’s going to be good. Don’t worry. So I’m not going to be picky. My gosh, favorite dish. I am a fan of dryer stuffing as opposed to wet stuffing. Okay. In my house.

Troy
Stuffing were.

George
There were always two stuffings that were made and one specially for me that nobody wanted to eat. So I always had enough for leftovers.

Troy
Well, you know, and the weather stuffing came out of the turkey and you know, suspect as to yeah it’s safe. But anyway Brian what’s your favorite side?

Brian
Well Missouri so I’ll use the accent the sweet potato sweet potato casserole but it has to have the brown sugar and the marshmallow.

Troy
Marshmallows on top. Yep. That you got to be careful not to burn in the broiler. Yep, yep. Mine is. And she’s not listening to this. So I’m not brown nosing, but my wife makes a killer cornbread, sausage, sage, cranberry stuffing that she can’t wait to have, so. Yeah, so awesome. Well.

George
You did. This was a question that came out of the blue. I mean, why didn’t you put this on the list?

Troy
Well, we didn’t want you to prepare for it. So clearly you were fumbling for the right answer. And so the tradition I heard is when I’m in Mexico, I’m going to have a catered favorite side dish is dry stuffing. So we now know a lot about you, George.

George
There you go.

Brian
For for those of the listening area that is interested in air handlers, especially alliance for our purposes, what states are we in? Sure are as Midwest machinery goes.

Troy
So Saint Louis, the company headquarters, covers the southern two thirds of Illinois and the eastern two thirds of Missouri that. Our Kansas City office covers the western third of Missouri and all of Kansas. And then our Oklahoma office that covers all of Oklahoma, the panhandle of Texas and northwest Arkansas. And, you know, just hop on to our website, Midwest machinery dot net and we’ve got maps and locations and contact info for all of those.

Troy
Great question, Brian.

Brian
And then, George, obviously for you nationwide, I mean, I guess are you specifically North America? Do you do any stuff over in Europe and Asia? What’s your what’s your regions and what’s the best way to reach out to alliance? Sure.

George
Main main focus, obviously, is the United States of America. There are some territories that I’m not currently in by design. So it’s kinda like north central U.S., like the Plains States, Chicago and don’t have representation there or the Southeast Florida, Atlanta, Arkansas, those places right there. So you guys really going south like east would be the right border before you get into now.

George
Well, Indianapolis, we have covered Ohio, sorry. Yeah. So anything just south of there is not going to be covered. We do work in South America. We have built some equipment that has gone overseas to Europe and to Asia. But those are sort of somewhat more specialized. The stuff that we’re doing in Mexico and South America, though, we do a decent amount of business down there as well.

George
And then, I mean, to get in touch with us, it’s easy. WW Dot Alliance Air Products, Ecom, you click on representatives and you can go in and type your zip code or a city name and it could tell you if we’ve got representation there.

Brian
Awesome. All right. Well, and for listening to our entire audience and have good holidays, Thanksgiving and as always, keep engineering for tomorrow. Today.

Outro
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