THIS 37 YEAR VETERAN OF THE HVAC BUSINESS DISCUSSES THE IMPORTANCE OF UP TO DATE EQUIPMENT, CUTTING EDGE TECH, AND HOW ELSE THE INDUSTRY HAS EVOLVED IN THE PAST FOUR DECADES
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
When Scott Nelson, owner of Oceanside Service in Allenhurst, began in the HVAC industry back in the early 1980s, he knew immediately that he wanted to one day open his own business. After high school, the budding entrepreneur enrolled in a technical institute to learn the ins and outs of the trade, and honed skills working for two different HVAC companies for seven years before taking the leap and opening his own store. “It has always been this, from the very beginning. I went straight into it,” he said.
Born and raised in the Shore area, choosing Allenhurst as the location for his company was an easy decision for the Monmouth County local. He wanted to serve neighbors, and the community he grew up in. Nelson was both a newlywed and a new father in October 1989 when Oceanside Service took its first customer. Since then, he has grown the business to 21 employees, and on any given day has 17 trucks on the road. Now, keeping the business in the family, his son has become a minority partner and is slated to take over the enterprise one day.
In the mid-1990s, in order to offer additional cleaning services to clients, Nelson launched a second enterprise, called Air Doctors, which specializes in air duct cleaning and sanitization. This sister company performs indoor air quality investigations and installation and maintenance of humidification, air cleaning, odor control, and energy and heat recovery ventilation systems, among other services. Each specialist on staff is certified by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association. Since such a system essentially performs the respiratory functions of a house, Nelson recommends having it cleaned once every three years.
Both Oceanside Service and Air Doctors serve residential and commercial clients in Monmouth and Ocean counties, ranging from small local businesses to multimillion dollar oceanfront mansions the Oceanside Service team performing sales, service, and installation for air conditioning, heating, ventilation, and commercial refrigeration systems. Acknowledging that client needs don’t always fall into a one size fits all category, Nelson also performs a good deal of custom work.
“We do a lot of work and services that other companies wouldn’t touch,” he said. Just earlier this year, for example, the team completed an expansive custom supply renovation project on a $9 million home on the Jersey Shore.
As a Luxaire Certified Comfort Expert dealer (the highest tier of the Luxaire Dealer Success program), Oceanside Service exclusively carries that maker’s state of the art line, including furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, mini split systems, and packaged units all of which utilize the latest advancements in quiet technology and energy efficiency. HVAC technology, Nelson explained, has changed significantly since he entered the trade, and that advancements in heating and cooling are making homes more efficient than ever.
“The industry is evolving literally every month,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of new technology from Japan, including inverter technology, that’s becoming mainstream in residential and commercial buildings.”
According to Nelson, the average shelf life of an air conditioning unit is between 12 and 15 years; for heating systems 18 to 20 years. Problems occur when people expect theirs to last many years past a recommended lifespan, and as systems become outdated, they become inefficient. To put the importance of having kept current heating, ventilation, and air conditioning in a home or commercial building in perspective, Nelson compared a building’s HVAC components to a person’s primary vehicle.
“We operate such systems much more strenuously than we do our own cars, but very few of us drive a car for more than six years,” he said. “We expect air conditioning and heating to last three to four times as long. It ends up being a safety issue as well as a waste of energy,” adding that while less expensive equipment might save money in the short term, there’s inevitably a reckoning down the road. As a rule of thumb, the company’s site recommends replacing home systems when a repair costs more than 30% of a new purchase, or when utility bills have increased 50% as a result of reduced efficiency.
“It’s also so important for people to choose the proper contractor,” he said. “The old adage applies: nothing good is cheap and nothing cheap is good.”
Oceanside Service’s website expounds further. “The right contractor can perform a load calculation or an energy analysis to determine operating costs. After getting to know your needs, he can customize a system.”
Referencing his team’s deep rooted expertise, Nelson observed that one of the reasons his business has been successful throughout the decades is its reliable workforce. “We retain our talent and treat them really well. My longest employee has been with me for 20 years,” he said. “I also believe in being a hands on owner; that way customers get a chance to see the name and the face of the business. That’s important.”
For Nelson, born and raised in New Jersey, serving the Monmouth County community is just as important outside of working hours. He is a volunteer firefighter and has served as fire commissioner for 15 years. He’s also a member of the New Jersey Air Conditioning Contractors Association and has been on its board of directors for 10 years. Quality family time has also been paramount to the father of three, and regardless of the demands of running a business, he always found time to coach Little League.
531 Main Street, Allenhurst 714.453.4646 /