Where it all began: the story of Hill York, South Florida’s leading mechanical contractor.
Imagine the luxury hotels of Miami Beach without air conditioning, closed in the summer, and cooled only by fans in the winter months. As Florida’s first air-conditioning company, Hill York changed all that!
Hill York pursued the challenge of designing and installing air-conditioning in more than half of the luxury hotels in Miami Beach just after World War II, making way for more tourism in South Florida with visitors and conventioneers flocking to the area. To this day, the company is credited with making Miami Beach a year-round community.
In 1936, the two founders, Ren Nitzsche and Everett Carroll were in the equipment business, serving as a distributor for Hill refrigerated cases and York air conditioning. During World War II, the company refurbished and installed used refrigerators, and renamed their company by combining the names of the two companies for which they were distributors.
Ten years after the duo began their business, they met Robert S. Lafferty, Sr., whose vocation was selling oil heaters in New Jersey. Lafferty saw an opportunity in the warm climate of the South to bolster the air-conditioning business of Hill York. He sold the first complete air-conditioning system to The Roney Plaza Hotel on Miami Beach. Other hotels started following suit, and Lafferty soon had nearly every major hotel lined up for air conditioning. Eventually, Lafferty became a part owner of the company.
His son, Robert S. Lafferty, Jr., is now chairman of the board of Hill York, while his grandson, Robert W. “Chip” Lafferty, a professional engineer, presides as chief executive officer. The company still maintains a branch in Miami where it got its start, but Fort Lauderdale is now the location of its headquarters.