Deal's Heating and Cooling Company
This business was home-based before it was “cool”
Deal’s Heating & Cooling Company celebrates 30 years in York County
By Melissa James, York County Contributor
For three decades, homeowners with HVAC needs have known where to get a Deal. When they call John Deal III—who usually goes by Jay—they not only find a skilled technician, but reasonable prices. Deal’s secret? Running his business from home, which eliminates many overhead costs his competitors have to pass along to customers.
Thirty years ago, Deal was working full-time for a maintenance contractor at NASA Langley Research Center. He’d already learned the ins and outs of troubleshooting mechanical equipment through a four-year state apprenticeship program. Deal said he loved the work but knew deep down that he wanted to run his own business.
“I guess I just inherited the entrepreneur gene,” shrugged Deal, whose father and grandfather both operated businesses in the Tidewater area for many years. “I wanted to follow in their footsteps and represent my family name.”
Deal understood he needed to start out small and grow his venture at a manageable pace—not taking on too many expenses right away.
“I had recently moved back to Yorktown, where I grew up, so we could raise our kids here,” said Deal. “I started the business part-time on the side, while I continued to work full time at NASA. The goal was to help our finances, not add unnecessary expenses, so renting commercial space was out of the question.”
He launched Deal’s Heating and Cooling Company from the detached garage on his property—which has worked so well, he still operates from it today. Deal said that by keeping his overhead costs low, he is able to successfully compete with even the largest HVAC companies in our area. His prices, coupled with the one-on-one personalized service he offers, has made his company one of the top in the area—a fact corroborated by the readers’ choice awards his company has earned over the years.
“I am extremely proud of winning the Coastal Virginia Best of Readers’ Choice Award, not once but twice,” said Deal. “We received gold-level awards in 2016 and again in 2021, beating out many of our larger competitors.”
Deal was also named Small Business Person of the Year by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce in 2001. Deal credits these recognitions to his customer service philosophy. He said his No. 1 priority is to treat his clients and potential customers the way he would want others to treat him and his family.
“I take pride in providing fair and honest customer service,” said Deal. “My goal is to build trust with my clients through courteous and professional service, so they continue to call on me time and again.”
Deal has served many families in the area for decades and said his repeat customers are an integral part of his success. Another important factor is his own family and the support they have provided over the years.
“I couldn’t do this business without my wife, Lolia,” Deal said. “She has been there for me since the beginning and helps out with the bookkeeping, taxes and much more. My son also worked part-time for me when he was in college.”
When asked what advice he might give another aspiring entrepreneur, Deal talked about the importance of networking and marketing.
“Because I’m a one-man shop, I wear many hats for the business,” said Deal. “I have two part-time installation helpers, but I do most everything myself, from promotion to sales calls to the actual repair and install work. I’ve found that its especially important for me to be involved in local organizations and events, to drum up new business and to get exposure in the community.”
Deal has been a member of the York County and Virginia Peninsula chambers of commerce for many years and enjoys networking at their Business After Hours events. He said that exposure is important for all businesses, but even more so for home-based businesses that don’t have the advantage of a prominent sign on Route 17 or another major commercial corridor. He added that his work van also brings in new customers, as does word of mouth from his existing clients.
“I think it’s important to always strive to be best you can be and do the best work you can,” said Deal, “because referrals and word of mouth are the easiest ways to grow your business, if you do a good job and are honest and professional.”
In the beginning, Deal also took advantage of free business counseling services, offered through a partnership with York County and the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center, to grow his company. He said the advice and assistance he received were invaluable.
Deal’s biggest challenges over the years have been weathering the many changes in the economy and overcoming the resulting business shifts.
“The strength of the economy significantly affects my business,” Deal said. “After the 2008 recession, many home builders transitioned to repair work, including HVAC, to make ends meet. This led to a big increase in competition for me, which hurt my business. Then, in 2020, despite being in a pandemic, we had a few really great years. More people were working from home and wanted to keep their homes properly heated and cooled, since they were spending so much time in them.”
Despite the ups and downs, Deal said he loves his work and running his own business.
“My favorite part about the work is the troubleshooting,” Deal said. “I love a challenge! I also love the satisfaction that comes with being able to help people and solve their heating and cooling problems.”
Deal said his work keeps him quite busy, not leaving much time for hobbies or extracurricular activities, but when he does find spare time, spending it with his family is the top priority.
“I’m lucky to have all three of my kids living here locally,” Deal said. “One of my favorite things to do is hang out with them and our two grandkids. But maybe I’ll eventually take up golf. I hear it’s good for business!”