Mobility and Collaboration Tools “Make Life More Comfortable” for Hill York

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Case Study by Onix

Hill York Air Conditioning Services & Energy Solutions, a full-service HVAC contractor specializing in commercial air conditioning and energy solutions, provides energy efficient services for the installation, maintenance and repair of a wide range of heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Founded in 1936, Hill York serves the state of Florida with the vision of “Making Life More Comfortable”.

Background: Pioneering HVAC Company Looks to Streamline Technology for Workers Across the State

Since designing and installing the first air conditioning systems in Miami Beach hotels after World War II, Hill York has led Florida facilities such as hospitals, colleges, government buildings, performing arts venues and fitness clubs to new levels of indoor comfort and energy efficiency. Hill York relieves building owners of maintenance chores by using smart technology and remote monitoring.

Today, the company has more than 200 employees in four office locations with an additional 120 field technicians serving customers statewide. Michael Harris, who joined Hill York as Vice President of Information Technology in 2016, saw an opportunity to elevate the company’s technology. He also knew that the ownership was ready to make changes.

The Challenge: Unacceptable Service Disruptions and Outages

Hill York’s existing email setup was subject to disruptions and outages, as was the company’s hosted server. In a service industry where timeliness and responsiveness are key, Hill York needed a more dependable solution.

The company researched both Office 365 and Google G Suite, considering several factors:

  • Some employees use a desktop computer while others work entirely remotely, depending solely on mobile solutions. Therefore the solution needed to work well across various devices including phones, laptops and tablets. Mr. Harris and the team sought a complete solution. They needed the standard office tools like documents and spreadsheets, but also wanted to improve their collaboration by leveraging calendar sharing, text / chat options and video calls.
  • Though cost was not a deciding factor, it was considered during the decision process.
    The team determined that Google was the better choice. Hill York went live with G Suite — and quickly saw improvements across the organization.

The Solution: G Suite Meets a Variety of Needs

Mr. Harris reports that for field technicians, the transition was needed. “They use Gmail and Drive. They use Google Photos to upload job pictures to Drive. In the past, pictures would be taken and emailed. This became a problem when sending several photos or needing to access the photos weeks later. Additionally, we use Google MDM (Mobile Device Management) to publish and manage apps on their phones. The techs have everything they need to do their job.” He added, “All data is backed up because it’s a company phone. Replacement phones are quick to deploy; all of their data is right there in the cloud. We only have to sign them into the new phone and they have everything they need.”

In the offices, the team is putting the collaboration tools to good use. The billing department generates a Google Sheet with past due balances. Sharing this information with account managers gives everyone an accurate financial status when speaking with customers. Mr. Harris noted that employees like that history is visible in Chat, and that Cloud Search is so powerful for both Drive and Gmail. He also noted that, “Hangouts and Chat are proving to be very popular. Our team has really discovered Forms recently and have begun using them to streamline several internal processes.”

The company now has an intranet built with Google Sites housing training information, an employee recognition board, a shared events calendar, forms and more. “It’s the one stop for everything Hill Yorkers need,” said Cristina Crenshaw, brand manager for Hill York. Mrs. Crenshaw gave another Sites example, “When Hurricane Matthew was heading for Florida in the fall of 2016, we were able to build a site in a day — without having any programming experience. This site was a way for employees to get updates about company operations, employee availability, storm status from various weather and government agency news feeds and other relevant info.”

Hill York has an IT team of four people; Mr. Harris notes that moving to G Suite has helped them become comfortable with the cloud. They have one Google admin and one help desk manager that can quickly rectify needs such as restoring information deleted by accident, or wiping a Hill York-registered mobile phone remotely when lost. Additionally, he was able to cite some impressive cost savings realized as a result of going Google:

  • Saving $180,000 in licensing over four years since the company qualified for Google’s Enterprise Agreement promotion
  • Offsetting the running cost of cloud-based servers that were supporting email at about $16,000 a year for four years
  • Licensing servers, regaining another $10,000
  • Avoiding the need for an OCR and indexing application costing $24,000 a year, instead using Google Drive
  • Transitioning to Drive storage by turning off a file server to save $12,000 a year
  • Terminating the purchase of AirWatch for 260 phones for about $120,000 over four years by instead using MDM from Google
  • Moving to an integrated fax solution, sending and receiving faxes by email. Eliminating fax machines and their phone lines will save $24,000 over four years.

Conclusion: Increasing Adoption and Implementing New Uses for Google Cloud

“Our industry is slow to adopt new technology; users can be uncomfortable with it. While adoption varies across the company, some users have very successfully adapted and are much more productive,” said Mr. Harris.

When analyzing Onix’s role in the G Suite migration, Mr. Harris commented, “They’re very knowledgable and kept us organized on the project management side. They made solid recommendations on how to deploy and manage the environment. Onix validated our change management approach. The technical team was excellent and quickly resolved any issues.”

As an example of the success of the deployment process, Mr. Harris explained, “We wanted a single sign-on solution designed for iOS devices. Google says that doesn’t exist and can’t happen. But Hill York and Onix implemented it along with Google MDM features and a device management policy application.” Due to great teamwork and project team communication, the timeline was accelerated; the project was completed ahead of schedule.

He concluded, “We’re not as deep into the Google platform as we will be in another year. Next on the radar at Hill York is Google App Engine and Cloud SQL.” With Onix, Hill York is starting work on a client portal. “Onix is great at teaching us to fish. We want to learn how to do things ourselves and Onix has been very receptive to that. We’re learning something new all the time and making the Google platform work for us.” Up next for Hill York are transformation workshops to expand the G Suite experience and brainstorming new ways to work even more effectively.

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