Paul Rippeth has been working with heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems for more than 10 years, and for nearly three years, he’s been running his own business from his home on Lake Anna.
“There’s tough competition here,” he said. “There’s five or six businesses [in Louisa] and even some companies that come up out of Richmond. I’m trying to get my name out there.”
Rippeth first moved to Louisa 16 years ago, taking a job at the North Anna Power Station as a nuclear instrumentation supervisor. He fell in love with the area and quickly settled into a house on the lake.
“I’ve always wanted to be on the water,” he said. “Here, I’ve got a lake view and lake access.”
Rippeth obtained his HVAC license in 2006 and began doing work for family and friends. He wouldn’t charge them since he didn’t have a business license, but did accept whatever payment they offered for his services.
Rippeth retired from his position at the power station in 2017 and decided to open his own business, Paul’s HVAC and You, as a second career. He chose the name in hopes of letting potential clients know what they can expect when working with him.
“It’s you and me,” he said. “We’re going to work together to get you the best deal.”
Rippeth primarily installs and services heating and cooling equipment, but he is also licensed as a home improvement contractor and can do other work for clients around their homes. He has to requalify for both licenses regularly, and just renewed his HVAC license last month.
Being licensed for this work himself is a point of pride for Rippeth.
“There’s a lot of companies that send workers out who aren’t licensed,” he said. “They’re working under the company’s license.”
One of the newer services Rippeth offers is load calculations on new homes, which helps determine the size of the unit needed to efficiently heat and cool the home. The process takes into consideration a number of factors, including the size of the home, the location and quantity of windows, the type of foundation the house is built on and the type and color of roofing used on the house.
Rippeth uses all of these factors to help make sure clients get the units that are right for them.
“For the most part, I can get it down to within a half-ton of what it’s supposed to be,” he said.
While he has taken jobs in Richmond and Short Pump, Rippeth primarily works in Louisa and the surrounding counties, including Spotsylvania and Culpeper.
Rippeth is the business's lone employee and, though he does hire people to help him unload and position the units, he does all of the installations and inspections himself. He has made it a point to pay cash for all of his equipment and vehicles without taking out loans.
“It permits me to offer my services without added costs,” he said.