Keep Things Cool
Cold Temp Refrigeration Services Inc. handles every type of cooling equipment need
If a customer’s walk-in freezer or other refrigeration equipment isn’t working, Cold Temp Refrigeration Services Inc. (Cold Temp) of Woodstock, Georgia, is ready to respond—immediately.
“One of the things that has always kept us busy is that we try to handle every service call the same day,” says Steve Barfield, Owner and President of Cold Temp. “So they call and we’ll handle it that day. Especially with a walk-in freezer, we’ll be there within a few hours. We have to get those up—and fast. The customer is losing product. We have always done that regardless of how many hours a day it takes,” Steve says.
Customers can reach Cold Temp any time of day or night, regardless of the hour. “We will get a tech on the way. At 4 o’clock in the morning, we will still roll,” Steve says.
The company services and installs all types of refrigerated equipment. “We do everything from walk-in and drive-in coolers and freezers down to lab equipment and environmental units,” Steve says. Cold Temp repairs and services all commercial HVAC systems, all brands of commercial ice machines and all types of refrigeration, including both reach-ins and walk-ins, along with repairing and maintaining frozen drink machines. Preventative maintenance agreements are available for all refrigerated equipment.
A portion of Cold Temp’s work is institutional for schools and especially hospitals. As vaccines for the virus that causes COVID-19 were made available, Cold Temp found itself playing an important role for many of the hospitals in the Atlanta area. Having freezers at the proper temperature “is critical now for the storage of the vaccines, and hospitals have to have all their equipment certified for temps,” Steve says. “That is what we do. We’ve done quite a bit to assure proper storage of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
Cold Temp also does temperature calibration and certifies temperatures for unit operations at the three hospitals that are part of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta system. “They just call us whenever they have an issue or when it is time to recertify their equipment,” Steve notes.
The company also works with a variety of laboratories, particularly when they may have issues with their cooling equipment. “We do some very cold units for environmental labs. They can run 70 below zero,” Steve says. “They are critical temperatures, and our techs have to get outfitted in full gowns to go into those labs.”
Quick Response Key for Customers
While emergency repairs are a critical part of their business, Cold Temp strives to keep customers happy to assure long-term relationships. New installations account for around 40% of the company’s business, Steve says. ”We work with a dozen or more general contractors,” he says, doing installations for restaurants and chains like QuikTrip, Panera Bread, Burger King, Dairy Queen and others, as well as a lot of refrigerated food distribution warehouses.
With five employees and $1 million in annual revenue, Cold Temp operates from a single location in Woodstock in the metro Atlanta area. “We travel throughout Georgia,” Steve says, “but probably 95% of our work is in the metro area.”
Steve, 64, started Cold Temp in 2003 after working in residential and commercial heating and air conditioning for over 20 years. “When the company I had been with for more than 10 years was sold, I didn’t want to go with them, so I started up my own company,” he says. “I bought a truck and started running service. Over time I hired one person to help me, and eventually I started expanding, adding more trucks and technicians. We didn’t advertise for the first six years at all. It was all word-of-mouth.”
Steve decided to focus on refrigeration “because it is hard to do everything and have all the parts you need on a truck. So I decided to be just on the cold side. Although we do hot side for some of our customers, we don’t advertise it at all. We only advertise refrigeration. We do air conditioning and heating for our refrigeration customers, though we don’t go out looking for it. But you are going to take care of your customers."
“We have been fortunate,” he says. “We are fair with our customers and take care of their problems. That’s all they want.”
Make it a Quik Trip
Cold Temp has done a lot of work on QuikTrip convenience stores in the Atlanta area. “We’ve done ground-up QuikTrips for installation of HVAC, and right now we are in the process of doing a lot of kitchen remodels where they change out some of the refrigeration and change the size of the walk-ins to make room for renovated kitchens,” Steve says. Cold Temp has a contract with two general contractors with each contractor doing one store every three weeks, he notes.
Steve is particularly proud of an installation from early 2021 that the firm completed for Wilkes Meat Market of Ball Ground, in Ball Ground, Georgia, not far from Cold Temp’s home base. The meat market owner had “bought his refrigeration units and all the display cases, and we installed all of them and set up his refrigeration and walk-ins. He’s doing good business now,” Steve says.
A Growing Family Business
Cold Temp is a family business. Steve’s daughter, Stefanie Williams, has been the Office Manager for seven years, and Stefanie’s husband, Jason Williams, is the Lead Installer. Stefanie met Jason before he came to work for Cold Temp. “After we got married, he was looking to make a change professionally and tried out Cold Temp for a couple of weeks and loved it,” Stefanie says.
“This is a family-owned and -run business. This is our bread and butter. This is what we do. Our own kids are already wanting to work with us,” Stefanie says. “Our daughter, Maddie, is 12 and likes the family-oriented atmosphere and how we balance work and family life together. She is a hard worker and is always willing to try something new. Our son, Donovan, is 2. He always wants to go to work with daddy, so he goes to get his tools to get ready to go to work just like dad,” Stefanie says.
Stefanie was a certified nursing assistant when she decided to make the shift from health care and do something else. Her father needed someone in the office to help with the accounts, and “it ended up being a great gig while I finished my business degree,” Stefanie says. Now she is poised to take over the company when her father retires.
Her father, she says, is an amazing boss. “He is awesome. I have never had a better boss to be really honest. I think the communication and the fact that we can be very honest with each other are key. We know we have a job to get done, so it is going to get done. The customers are our No. 1 focus,” Stefanie says. “We have always had the same goals in mind, even though we may have different ideas about how we can do things. We are always willing to work together in order to reach that ultimate goal.”