BY ADAM KENT-ISAAC

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. HVAC. Four letters that spell comfort—and confusion. As the “guts” of a building—a complex labyrinth of ducts and pipes—they must be maintained and appeased lest the ambient climate becomes unbearable. Commercial Service is among Bloomington’s premier tamers of the HVAC hydra.

Founded in 1946 by Joe Hamros and purchased in the 1970s by Jules and Mike Sonneborn, the company has become one of the largest locally owned HVAC businesses in town, employing 50 people and operating 40 trucks. This prominence means great responsibility, says manager Charlie Laughlin.

For example: Commercial Service fabricates much of their duct in-house. “A lot of what we do, like retrofits and remodels, requires custom design,” says Laughlin. “It has to be specifically made to fit within an existing structure.” In its spacious shop on Curry Pike, ducts of all sizes are created from whole sheets of metal.

The average home has several thousand feet of tubing and ductwork. Commercial buildings have more, on a larger scale. It takes knowledge and experience to fabricate a system that will properly heat and cool a building.

“We’ve got air-handling units that are bigger than a trailer; stand inside, and the blower is bigger than I am,” Laughlin says. “And the ductwork it has to go through is huge.” Commercial Service is capable of handling these massive industrial applications in addition to residential work. (West Baden Springs Hotel and French Lick Resort and online casino were recent projects.)

The company is particularly adept at reusing materials. “Ninety percent of the equipment that we pull out of a jobsite gets recycled,” says Laughlin. “Most of it is sheet metal, copper, tin, brass—thousands of metric tons a month. Fifty years ago, all of this stuff just went in the trash.”

Reducing environmental impact is a major focus of the company. “Most of what we do is high efficiency; it makes a more comfortable home environment and has less impact on the environment and your wallet,” says Laughlin.

“We’ve been around for over sixty-five years. It’s a reliability thing. When customers call us at midnight on Saturday, we’ll answer the phone and we respond twenty-four hours a day.” Visit commsrv.com for more information.