When Matt and Jennifer Armer started their air conditioning company out of their Ahwatukee home, it was partly to carry on a family’s legacy.
And what a legacy it is – after all, not many families have a mountain named after them.
Located south of Roosevelt Dam in Tonto National Forest, 7,310-foot-high Armer was named in tribute to the Armer family, which homesteaded in the late 1800s near Lake Roosevelt and lived in a home made of timber from the mountain.
It has a grim history dating back to December 1951, when a plane full of West Point cadets got lost in bad weather and slammed into the west-facing cliffs, killing all 25 young men aboard.
But there’s another part of that legacy that the parents of three want to carry on – or, rather, revive.
Matt’s great uncle, a sheet metal worker and son of a cattle rancher and deputy marshal, founded John Armer Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning – one of the first, if not the first, air conditioning repair companies in Arizona. He was known as the grandfather of air conditioning in the Valley.
Though Matt was born after he died, his father, Jack, worked for the company, which was founded in 1922.
Air conditioning was invented about 20 years earlier by Willis Carrier, an engineer who was working for a heating company and was tasked with fixing a problem that a printing shop was having when the temperatures rose. The ink would run and bleed in the hot weather and Carrier had to figure out a way to stop that.
He invented a filter that helped dry out humid air and then run over coils that contained a coolant.
Though air conditioning didn’t start becoming a staple in Arizona homes until after World War II, John Armer nonetheless made his business a success.
But while Carrier went on to grow his company into the large Carrier Engineering Corp., Armer Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning faded – until last November when Matt, who had been working for various air conditioning companies, and his wife, who had been in advertising and marketing, set out to revive it.
But the Armers have more in mind than carrying on a family tradition.
“We wanted to give back to the community and help those that are less fortunate and have to have air conditioning,” Matt explained. “We want AC companies to have a good name again.”
The Armers decided to operate out of their home.
“We do not need a brick-and-mortar building,” he explained. “We go to customers’ homes, saving us from a larger overhead.”
They know they’re in a competitive business, saying their biggest challenge is “getting the name recognition and proving to our customers that we are the smart choice in HVAC.”
“Our honesty and integrity speak for themselves and we treat our customers as family,” he said.
And they also are diversified, not limiting themselves to homes. “If it heats or cools, I can fix it,” Matt said. “I can handle commercial, residential and even large box stores.”
Now that Arizona heat has descended, he’s prepared for the busiest season in his line of work, grateful for the fact that “we have prepared our customers with pre-summer tuneups so they don’t have to worry about the triple digits.”
“I have been doing this for 25 years,” he added. “I know what to expect.”
The Armers also have a few ideas about giving back to the community, both clients and the less fortunate.
“We are thinking about organizing with some other Ahwatukee businesses and doing a customer appreciation BBQ or dinner,” he said. “We also are getting more involved in local fundraisers… We help raise money for juvenile diabetes for an Ahwatukee resident.”
Information: facebook.com/armerair38, 480-290-2977 or 480-267-1854.