When Bill Cook, owner of Piedmont Sheet Metal, began working for the company, he was 17, doing what many young men did in 1930; leaving home to help support his family. Moving from Avery County, at the foot of Beech Mountain, to Winston-Salem, NC, the “big city,” full of opportunity, was just what Bill found when he learned that Piedmont Sheet Metal was hiring. “In those days there was little to be found in jobs at home, so I moved to Winston-Salem, lived with my aunt and began working for Mr. Rothrock, who owned Piedmont Sheet Metal. I worked in the shop area, making ductwork for 60 cents an hour. Each week I made $24.00 and that was good money back then,” Mr. Cook recalled. With a little money saved up, Bill married Florence in 1949 and built a house on a lot he bought for $300. Under the mentoring of Mr. Rothrock, Bill moved from the shop to installation, eventually being on the road traveling, calling on out-of-town customers, learning along the way the importance of putting customers first and always doing more than you said you would do for customers.
“In 1964, Mr. Rothrock decided to retire due to health reasons and asked me if I wanted to buy the business. I did, and now at 88 years old, I still come in most days,” said Mr. Cook. With a reputation like Piedmont Sheet Metal had under Mr. Rothrock, he knew Bill Cook was the man to take over ownership because he had seen Bill’s ability to work with people from all walks of life, and that Bill, like himself, was a man of integrity. Now, some 90 years later, family-operated by the second and third generations of Cooks, Piedmont Sheet Metal is one of the most successful HVAC companies in North Carolina, with many employees having been with the company over 45 years.
With 90 Years in Business, You Must Be Doing Something Right!
As with any business, as your industry evolves, you need to adjust to the market and to your customers’ needs. Piedmont Sheet Metal has done just that over the years.
“Starting off offering heating and then adding air conditioning in the 1950s was a major change in our business, but what has set us apart in the HVAC business is that we continue to design, and custom-fit sheet metal to be used throughout projects we complete. We measure, design and custom-make the ductwork right here, on-site, in our sheet metal shop. This difference makes your system run more efficiently and provides for optimal air distribution and longevity for the home or business owner,” said Connie Miller, Bill Cook’s daughter and Corporate Officer and General Manager at Piedmont Sheet Metal. Beyond the fabrication of ductwork for your individual project, Piedmont Sheet Metal has a commitment to something higher.
“Our company’s culture has been created and determined by our family values. The integrity of Piedmont Sheet Metal and our employees is about Christ-centered living. It’s about doing what is right rather than what is expedient. We believe we have stood the test of time and the ups and downs in the economy because we make our business decisions based on the standards and principles of God-righteousness, truth and honesty. That is, there is a congruency between what the organization verbalizes and what it practices. We also have a commitment to excellence. If an organization is to be recognized as an exemplary one, then it must glorify God through its commitment to excellence in its service and product. Finally, we have a commitment to our people. We offer fair compensation, performance recognition and provide growth opportunities, both personally and professionally—this brings out the best in our employees. A company is only as good as its employees, and Piedmont Sheet Metal is proud of their low turnover over the years,” Connie commented.
Mr. Cook was once asked how he kept workers around for over 40 plus years, and he said it was pretty simple. “When you’re interviewing someone for a job, you make it real clear that you expect them to be here until the undertaker comes…that cuts down on people leaving,” Mr. Cook disclosed. Other than that stipulation, Piedmont Sheet Metal goes above and beyond for its employees.
Jeff Cook, nephew of Bill Cook and Residential Service Manager, commented, “Our technicians and installers have continuing education and training directly from the manufacturer. Offering our services and new equipment at competitive prices for our customers has always been a top priority. Since the beginning, we have been a certified Lennox dealer. Our business today is 50/50, residential and commercial, and staying abreast of the latest technology is an absolute necessity to be successful in the ever-changing times we live in now. Customers trust us to educate them on the most efficient products offered to suit their comfort needs.” Beyond good employees, Piedmont Sheet Metal has good, loyal customers.
Treat Others as You Would Want to Be Treated
“Our customers are treated with the utmost respect, and when working in their homes or businesses, we take pride in the quality and workmanship of our performance. We’ve even been told by more than one customer, ‘We appreciate that when you left, my home was cleaner than it was before you came.’ We look at our customers like they are part of our family. Our goal is always to offer the most efficient service and products to take care of the customer’s needs at the best price. Whether a customer needs a new HVAC system, an existing one serviced, we want to leave the customer completely satisfied with our service and the products we offer,” stated Connie. Along with their employees and customers, Piedmont Sheet Metal owes a lot to the downtown community.
“We’ve been a part of downtown Winston-Salem since our beginning. Supporting our community and local businesses is part of who we are, whether we are frequenting the cafe on the corner, supporting a little league baseball team or providing assistance to non-profit agencies such as Solus Christus,” reflected Connie.
As Bill Cook looks back over the 71 years he has been at Piedmont Sheet Metal, he’s very humble about how much the company has grown and so proud of the employees who have been a part of their success. “I learned by example—put the customers first, be good to my employees and always do right by people,” said Mr. Cook.
Piedmont Sheet Metal is located at 801 N. Broad Street, Winston-Salem. For more information or for a consultation, visit www.piedmontsm.com or call 336-724-7439.