David Dunbar took his 25 years in the HVAC industry and started his own business. Read on for his story and the advice he has for other business owners.
Turning Experience into Something New
David Dunbar started Dunbar Services in 2021 – a local HVAC company operating primarily in Hendersonville, Fletcher, and Rutherfordton. However, this fresh business start came out of his personal 25-year history in the industry. “I got started in [the HVAC industry] because I was in textiles, and then the factory closed,” David explained. “So, they allowed us to go to school, and the state paid for it, so I was able to go for HVAC.” While he didn’t use it immediately, after another furniture factory closure, he decided to pivot.
“I wished I had done it a long time ago. I love it,” said David. He shared that while skills are necessary, it’s the personality he shows and the trust he builds with customers that keep people coming back. “You’ll find that if you have good people skills and you have good work skills, you become very well known,” he shared. “So, when people think about HVAC, they think of you. So, I think that was the basis of this new business for me.”
Teamwork Makes it Happen
Sometimes with business structure, it’s a matter of quality over quantity. David currently operates Dunbar Services with a small team – two other gentlemen. “I’m here to support them,” he shared. IT’s a team. We support each other…You don’t have to have a big force to make good money. If you have the right people with the right ethics, you can do pretty well.” Together they work to provide their customers with the services they need in a timely manner at a reasonable price.
Mountain BizWorks’ Catalyst Fund might also be considered part of his team. This fund is designed to help level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color in the 26-county region. David said, “I have more security in the business, and I was able to purchase a couple of needed trucks and fully stock them with equipment that will help us take on more work. The Catalyst program has really done what it says.”
Dreams of Sustainable Growth
In CNBC’s annual competitiveness study, North Carolina came out on top as America’s Top State for Business. Western North Carolina is a big part of that growth. David chose to launch his business in the area for one big, personal reason, though: it’s home. “I’m a homeboy,” he shared. “I grew up in Fletcher…my family name is known around here, and we have a good name. So that is helping me with my success, I believe.”
The personal aspects of business continue through his own goals and where he sees himself within the community. Huge growth isn’t – and doesn’t have to be – the goal for all businesses. David said, “I’m a more family-oriented business, and I think family comes first. So, if we can make money to sustain our families, that’s enough.”
However, he is thinking about what a brick-and-mortar spot could do for Dunbar Services. And he knows where he’d like to be positioned: “I’d like for my business to be part of the new Hendersonville.” The Downtown Hendersonville Opportunity Fund – in partnership with Mountain BizWorks – is a great resource for businesses looking to do the same.
Advice for Others
What does David love most about being a business owner? He loves the freedom of scheduling his life. He expands on that, saying, “It’s the freedom of traveling daily, meeting new people. It’s like an adventure every day.” In addition to setting his own schedule, he really likes having the authority to help his employees and others.
As for general advice for others, David shared, “The best advice that I can give is you need to like what you do and you need to like people. And if you’re sincere about what you’re doing and you like people, it will show in your business and your business will grow.”
Photos captured by Reggie Tidwell of Curve Theory.