You never can tell where a chain of events is going to lead. Venture Mechanical's Co-President can trace his career path all the way back to a casual meeting between a family member and an acquaintance decades ago.
Petty grew up in Oklahoma during the 1960s and '70s. "My father, after visiting with a gentleman who maintained the refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment at the food processing plant where they worked, encouraged my two brothers and me to enter the HVAC trade," Petty recalled.
It was a visit with far-reaching consequences for the Petty clan: "Today, all three of us are in the HVAC industry."
Petty graduated from Oklahoma State University in Okmulgee with an Associates degree in 1983. But he didn't let any grass grow under his feet – that September, he started work with Venture Mechanical.
The company officer has filled a number of roles: service technician, service salesman, service manager, Vice President and Executive Vice President. He became Venture Mechanical's President in 2004.
"I am disappointed by some of the technology today that takes away personal relationships in business," Petty says as he reflects on the separation between customer and contractor due to the growing use of facsimiles and emails. "I never want any of our customers to feel like they are nothing more than a number."
In the late 1990s, Petty observes, company founders Larry Ingram and Morris Cochrum began handing over the reins of the firm's day-to-day operations. "Watching the new young managers taking on the challenges of filling Morris' and Larry's shoes makes every day exciting," Petty says.
"Venture is and always will be my second family."
James Cochrum might put it this way: What Venture Mechanical's customers need is confidence; what they don't want to hear is "we can't."
In a positive sense, says the Co-President, "I want to provide for our customers, whether general contactors or end users, solutions to their HVAC needs that are built around value. That value is defined by designs, workmanship and service in which our customers can have confidence."
Cochrum put in some classroom time at Abilene Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington in the early 1980s, but his professional education really started on the ground floor of what was then Crossroads Mechanical.
"I started working in the field and worked there as a plumber and HVAC installer," he says. He later became a field superintendent over construction operations and then worked in project management. He's now the Co-President in charge of operations, project management and engineering aspects of the business.
He sees relationships as integral to Venture Mechanical’s day-to-day operations. Potential employees, he says, could find "no better place to work where relationships are a pillar of the business, whether they are built between our employees themselves or our employees and our customers."
And particularly rewarding to him has been the chance to labor alongside his father, company co-founder Morris Cochrum. "There could have been no better place where I could have been mentored," he says. "The most significant thing I learned is that we are the stewards of a business that really belongs to God; a gift from Him to be managed with great forethought and prayer."
Jason Stewart, P.E.,LEED AP
Vice President Engineering
You might say that Jason Stewart sees his professional life as an E-ticket ride.
Education. Engineering. Ethics.
The Venture Mechanical Vice President received a degree from Baylor University in 1994 and started at the company the next year. He began work as a tenant finish project manager and proceeded to work on tenant finish and new construction as project manager for four years.
After receiving his professional engineering license, he became Manager of Engineering in 2000 and Vice President of Engineering in 2004.
"Venture offers a professional environment where hard work and talent are rewarded," Stewart says, "and where you are NEVER asked to act unscrupulously on behalf of the company."
The company, he says, "is led by honest men, employs hard-working, honest men and women and enjoys a reputation among vendors, competitors and customers as an organization of great integrity."
Stewart knows that customers want to get their jobs done, and he wants them to know that Venture knows that, too: The company cannot afford to "respond to our customers with a sense of urgency that doesn't match theirs."
The future? "I'd love to see VMI become the premier design-build mechanical contractor in the greater DFW area," this vice president says, "and then carry that reputation to other regional metropolitan markets."
Vice President of Field Operations
Growth means change. Stability means…well, not changing. Interestingly enough, Jerry Gilbert sees both of those virtues at Venture Mechanical.
"Sustained growth and profitability are the keys to all successful corporations," says VM’s Vice President of Field Operations. "Growth gives us the ability to provide opportunities for hard-working employees to work their way up the ladder, just as I and many others have done. In today’s economy, I believe expansion into new markets will provide the continued growth we need."
On the other hand, he believes that Venture Mechanical has the kind of solid foundation that employees need. "I believe we have more opportunities and stability than most any other HVAC contractor of our size."
Gilbert, who was born in 1966 at Fort Hood, grew up in East Texas. "As a teenager," he recalls, "I would go around to home construction sites and ask for work cleaning and moving debris." He attended Kilgore College briefly but left to work full time. "I was drawn to construction by what I perceived was the best opportunity for me, considering my mechanical abilities and a knack for solving problems," he says.
In May 1991, he walked through the doors of Venture Mechanical.
Starting as a helper, he became a tenant finish supervisor in 1993, a construction
superintendent in 2000 and general superintendent in 2006. Two years later, he took on his present job as VP/Field Operations.
One of the highlights of his career, he says, was the opportunity to be a co-owner of Venture Mechanical.
"Most important, it has grounded me with people who have proven themselves to be men of integrity – honest and hard-working," he says. "I have learned that doing what is right is more important than the bottom line."