Successful family businesses require dedication, expertise in a craft and relentless hard work. Transferring the business through the generations is challenging. Most family businesses dissolve rather than get passed on through the family. Statistics indicate that only 12% of family owned businesses survive until the third generation. The fact that Capital Heating and Cooling has been in business for 77 years and currently owned and operated by the third generation Schmidtke brothers is testimony to their dedication to customer service, expertise in their craft, and commitment to quality work.
Capital Heating and Cooling started in 1937 by Bill Schmidtke and his business partner Helmut Klein. They purchased the existing Tobin Sheet Metal and founded their company as Capital Sheet Metal in downtown Olympia. Over the years, sheet metal fabrication led into the building of ductwork and eventually a comprehensive heating and air conditioning company. Currently the three Schmidtke brothers – Bill, Chuck and Dean – own and operate Capital Heating and Cooling.
Dean Schmidtke shares, “We grew up always doing something with the company whether sweeping the floor in the shop or washing the trucks.”
“We run the business with modern day technology and techniques but remain committed to the ‘old fashioned’ values in which the company started,” Dean continues. “We are honest, straight forward and concerned with helping our customers.”
“We literally will be there for our customers for generations. We will keep the tradition of Capital Heating and Cooling’s integrity and quality going. We will continue the good work that my father and grandfather have done in homes, schools and office buildings,” Dean adds.
The Schmidtke brothers have been successful in growing Capital Heating and Cooling partly due to their insightfulness in allowing each other to follow their respective areas of strength within the company. Each pursued education, training or jobs outside the family business prior to taking over ownership in 2007.
Helping in the family business while growing up and then gaining experience outside the family company likely has served as part of the company’s continued success and growth. Bill received an engineering degree at Saint Martin’s University and now leads the large commercial projects at Capital Heating and Cooling. Chuck originally attended the Washington State Explorer’s Academy from 1995 – 1998 before starting with the company full-time to run the service department. Dean, also a graduate of Saint Martin’s University worked in the industry throughout the country before returning home to Olympia.
Dean comments, “Bill has always had the mechanical engineering mind so it makes sense that he leads our big projects while Chuck is an expert at juggling company resources. And I tend to have more of the broad ideas. We use our natural strengths and talent in working in different departments but then come together as a team to lead the company.”
And of course the elder Schmidtke is still involved. “Dad still swoops in to give his two cents,” Dean says with a chuckle. “He stirs things up and then he is gone. He is always giving advice or telling fun stories about things that happened in the past. He enjoys reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ like when the company used to do hot tar roofing and the crew accidentally set one on fire.”
Hot tar roofing is a bygone era but part of the company’s origins – custom sheet metal continues as an integral part of the business. The sheet metal division fabricates the custom ductwork, as well as builds stainless steel and copper countertops, kitchen hoods and much more. Capital Heating and Cooling now specializes in residential and commercial Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, air duct cleaning, and repair and maintenance of systems.
The installation of any heating and cooling system is paramount to its success. Capital Heating and Cooling supports extensive and ongoing training for its technicians.
Capital Heating and Cooling is well known in the area for its highly experienced installation teams for both large commercial projects and residential homes both for new construction and remodels. And their reputation for service and maintenance systems is impeccable.
Many of us have worked with Capital Heating and Cooling for systems within our own homes or offices but if not it is likely we have experienced the comfort of a home or business in which they have installed a system such as Meconi’s Restaurants, the Governor’s Mansion, Olympia Federal Savings in Hawks Prairie and the O’Grady Library and Worthington Center at Saint Martin’s University.