Stewardship and Professionalism
Buffalo’s Mechanical, Inc. is where a big picture mentality effects change
Jason Buffalow was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship as far back as he can remember. After school most days and on weekends, Jason was immersed in his grandfather’s mechanical contracting business, where his father also worked.
So, it wasn’t much of a surprise that, at the young age of 26, Jason founded Buffalo’s Mechanical, Inc. (Buffalo’s). The company is headquartered in Ripon, California, but serves the larger territory of San Francisco Bay, Central Valley, Sacramento and Fresno. Today, Jason’s father Henry still works with him on designing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
In addition, his wife Gina is Vice President and Office Manager. “When I started in 1995, I had two lead installers: Jason Hodges and Omar Martinez. Today, they are both still here and are now part of the management team,” says Jason. The company employs 20 people.
His success remains fixed on this philosophy: “Early on, my goals were to build a strong staff, maintain lasting partnerships with my clients and build mutually beneficial relationships with vendors.”
The company provides mechanical system solutions to clients in a variety of markets, including commercial and retail, hospitality, office and medical. It touts recognizable clientele, including The Home Depot, Dollar General, Victoria’s Secret and AT&T. “We like the challenge of retail projects. They have tight timeframes and every store is the same, yet unique.” Jason’s passion is palpable when he describes working to help major brands execute on their growth goals.
Stretching the Limits
The company has worked with many of the largest retailers, mall management companies, property managers and manufacturers in the United States. Jason is proud of the relationships he has built, many which come from performing under challenging conditions. Buffalo’s recently completed a unique project for the Alpine Climbing Adventure Fitness in Ripon, California.
Jason says, “Alpine climbing involved different roof heights ranging from 20 feet to 60 feet, requiring a lot of innovative engineering on how to get airflow from the floor up to the ceiling. Because it is a climbing facility, we also delivered an HVAC design to process chalk (used by climbers for traction) every day while keeping the building cool and bringing in enough fresh air to maintain a healthy environment.”
Although it has a large book of business, every member of the Buffalo’s team is well versed on individual client needs. For example, he says, “We do a lot of Starbucks rebrand projects. Currently, we are working on 13. From Tahoe to San Diego, the same team executes on these projects so we understand the requirements and can deliver efficiently. We specialize in fast-track projects, but we always take proper execution seriously.”
Jason says that although retail is concerned with building stores quickly and inexpensively, when his team is involved in a design-build project, he makes sure to speak with clients about air quality, temperature control, thermal insulation and bringing as much fresh air into a building as possible. “I like to have discussions around air quality because they are important aspects that impact how the end user experiences the facility.”
A Committed Team
According to Jason, his team cares about its clients and takes great pride in their workmanship. “My grandfather and father taught me that doing the right thing makes you successful, and in doing the right thing you are proud of the work that you do.” The same sentiment is shared by employees.
“Our people consider themselves as team members, not as employees. This matters because they are true to their word and take care of one another on a job site,” he says. Employees are trained internally and are also the candidate pool Jason looks at when looking to promote. “I am very confident in the experience and abilities of our team,” he says.
Jason explains how, in today’s competitive marketplace, most employees can go anywhere and make comparable salaries. “I have to make sure I keep talented staff. So, I am flexible and treat my employees like family. There’s a reason that much of our staff has been here for over a decade. Even despite any economic downturn, our employees receive full hours every week.”
The company even offers an apprenticeship program, where it onboards new people and partners them with an experienced lead once a quarter. Every quarter they receive a new person to learn from to ensure the training is diverse and complete. He is especially proud of the work his team did last year, completing many projects in the Westfield Valley Fair mall during the COVID-19 pandemic and amid changing protocols and varying regulations and requirements.
Buffalo’s has created a culture of regularly supporting its community, led by Jason’s personal commitments. He is a prior board member for a now-defunct youth baseball program and when it closed, he established his own—the Ripon Little League. Today, the league has 220 kids and is thriving. But Jason doesn’t stop there. He also coaches baseball at Ripon High School. His 14-year-old son plays, and Jason estimates that between coaching and his son’s practices and games, he is on the field at least six days a week. He is also a member of the Ripon Quarterback Club, which raises $75,000 per year to support local youth athletic teams and is on the board of the Wakeboarding Hall of Fame.
Jason says, “I also have a barbecue catering business and we cook for our police and fire departments to thank them. My wife and I also cook for our football and baseball teams a couple of times a year in partnership with local nonprofits.” Jason has also organized several events to raise money for the family of a boy he coached who battled brain cancer. He says, “I’m not a guy that goes home and sits on a couch. I usually try to stay active and drive toward my goals, which includes being a leader for my family, business and community.” He is humbled that his catering company has built a social media following of more than 140,000 on Instagram.
The tales of giving back don’t stop there. In late 2020, Jason and his friend, along with Jason’s son, were boating along San Joaquin River when they saw an overturned ATV in the water. The adults jumped into the water to triage the male passenger and unharness the two female occupants who were face down in the water. Jason is reported as saying, “Before (my boat) was even in neutral, I threw my glasses off and hopped in the water.” Jason and his friend are credited with saving three lives that day.
Leading the Way
Holding true to his leadership style, Jason keeps the “big picture” in mind. “I want to effect change in others. Whether it is kids on a baseball field, my team, my family, there is such a great benefit to helping others. I think I’m proof that if you work hard and collaborate with others, you can increase your chances to help others. That’s what drives me.”
Jason believes Buffalo’s has been around for decades because of flexibility. Throughout decades, the company has withstood fluctuating fuel costs, heavy taxation and a pandemic, and has still maintained its core team. “At the end of the day, our longevity is due to our professionalism.”
A man who leads by example, Jason reflects the lessons learned as a young boy working alongside his grandfather and father those many years ago. “I usually work 12-14 hours a day. I’m here before my team and I’m here after they are gone. I arrive on the field before my team because I want to make sure we have what we need.” Those around him see the work he does, his professionalism, and it sends a strong message that resounds: to lead is best done by example.