Sisters company is nimble
Last updated 2/14/2023 at Noon
Mike Whitlatch has learned his business from the ground up — literally.
“I started out cleaning ducts and putting in duct work under houses,” he recalled.
With experience in every level of the business — from major commercial installations like Deschutes Brewery and St. Charles Hospital to residential applications — he has now launched his own company. Sisters Heating & Air took it’s first call last September, and they’ve been roiling ever since.
Sisters Heating & Air serves Sisters Country with residential and commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) — including air purification and humidification, system diagnostics, maintenance, replacements, and new installations. They also offer in-depth consultation services such as system load calculations, schematics, and construction.
Whitlatch’s values are straightforward, and he applies them to every job:
“We provide an exceptional product and service at a reasonable price,” he told The Nugget.
“We hold a very high standard for both the products we sell, and the craftsmanship that we put into working on them.
We choose to exclusively carry the highest-rated brands, because we want our customers to have a great long-term experience.
We go out of our way to perform work that is far beyond minimum requirements, not because we have to, but because we can.
However, we’re able to provide this excellent service at a price that is still very competitive, because we are a small, nimble company with minimal overhead.
One of our core principles is to maintain this lightweight structure as we grow, so that we can continue to provide both value and quality to our customers.”
Whitlatch is a hands-on owner-operator, with Chris Biagi and Drew Herburger serving as the rest of the crew.
Hard work has always been Whitlatch’s way.
“I started working when I was 14 years old,” he said.
At 17, he was in tech sales — but he realized that he really wanted to work with his hands. He moved into automotive electronics, but found his prospects there limited. Discovering that a job in HVAC could mean a solid living, he applied at a company in Antioch, California, and got the gig.
“I just started grinding, working 10- to 12-hour days,” he said.
Starting at the ground level and working up has given Whitlatch a strong foundation of experience on which to build.
“Where we really excel is on the technical and engineering side,” he explained. “In my 16 years working in HVAC service, I’ve seen a lot. If something can break, I probably have fixed it! This is critical when designing new systems, because my service experience helps me to anticipate what issues might arise. We take pride in engineering a system that is custom-designed for your unique situation. We do more than sell equipment: We create complete systems that we guarantee to work efficiently and last a long time.”
Whitlatch prides himself on looking at customers’ needs from an engineering standpoint.
“I go in with service eyes, not sales eyes,” he said.
“In this industry, it’s all too common for companies to blindly throw new parts at a malfunctioning system, or replace it altogether, without having definitively identified the cause of the problem.
I take it as a personal challenge to do the detective work needed to diagnose a problem.
Without finding the true cause, a technician might only fix part of the issue — or, they might replace an expensive part that was perfectly good! We have a duty to our customers to do our due diligence when diagnosing a problem.
We will always go out of our way to offer our customer a range of options, and guide rather than pressure you into the best choice.”
Whitlatch is very happy to have found his place in Sisters.
“When my wife, Emerald, and I were searching for a place to start our family together, Sisters was the obvious choice,” he told The Nugget. “The variety of natural beauty is incomparable, and so are the endless outdoor activities. Sisters’ relaxed Western town atmosphere reminds me of my roots, mining in the Northern California mountains. So many members of the local community have welcomed us as friends, and we are eager to give back.”