Technology Plays Instrumental Role in Longevity of AZ Legacy Business

CEO Sissie Roberts Shank Twice Changed the Face of Her Family Business

(December 11, 2017) – Chas Roberts A/C & Plumbing is celebrating their 75th Anniversary with a bright outlook for the future. Not too long ago, the company, who performs the bulk of their business designing and installing new A/C systems for homebuilders was still in survival mode due to the downturn in housing. As recently as 2 years ago, the new construction housing market was still in uncertain territory. CEO Sissie Roberts Shank was leaning heavily on her I.T. staff to help the company weather the storm in the Phoenix housing market, which affected builders and their contractors for a lot longer than the resale market.

“2015 was really the year that we saw the housing starts stabilize which was the green light for our company to start staffing up to levels we hadn’t seen since the downturn started,” said Sissie Roberts Shank. “To keep us where we needed to be, I was constantly challenging the I.T. staff because their innovations kept costs down when revenue was significantly down,” Roberts Shank continued.

Sissie knows a little bit about how I.T. can change how a company operates. She was filing paperwork as an 8th grader for her grandfather, Chas Roberts’ company and wanted to quit the job. Boredom with the repetitive task of filing papers was driving her decision, so her grandfather came up with the idea of giving her a brand-new Apple 2-C computer and challenging her to program it to do the filing instead of their paper only system. If she succeeded, Chas said she could keep the new machine, which cost about the same as a brand-new Apple MacBook Pro does in 2017 – quite the motivation.  With some real dedication, Sissie accomplished the task and it streamlined the entire filing system at her family business. Little did she know then, but she was on her way to becoming CEO. “I don’t think anyone thought I could actually pull it off, but I really wanted that computer!” Roberts Shank said.

The down turn in housing pushed Chas Roberts A/C & Plumbing to the limits, but Sissie was up to the task. “I learned early on that technology can truly change a business and carried that forward to a time when our company had to cut 90% of our workforce just to survive. It was a gut-wrenching time for all of us. Our employees are our extended family and we would have done anything to keep them here. Surviving the down turn is my proudest accomplishment and nothing makes me happier than to be able to hire more staff and see some of the same faces come back to work for the family.”

The company is truly a family affair. In addition to CEO Sissie Roberts Shank, on the executive board is her brother, Bob Shank as COO. The marketing director, Rachel Stiak is the daughter of Bob Shank and the great-granddaughter of Chas Roberts.