Detailed History

Our Story

Comfort Engineers, Inc. has a history of serving the RTP area of North Carolina dating back to its establishment in 1955, and for six decades, Comfort Engineers, Inc. has been working to become the premiere provider of HVAC and mechanical services in their market.

Established, 1955

Comfort Engineers, Inc. (CEI) was established in 1955 when Claude Williams, Alan Williams’ father, Dave Hessee, Layne Hessee’s Father, and Henry Pope purchased the contract operations division from Nicholson and Company, a HVAC contracting and wholesaler business. In 1956, CEI was incorporated with three owners, Claude Williams, Dave Hessee, and Henry Pope. From 1956 to 1974, the three owners successfully grew the company expanding the customer base and service offerings. Exiting the industry in 1974, Henry Pope retired, selling his ownership to the existing owners. Claude Williams and Dave Hessee, now with equal ownership in CEI, continued to improve the business pursuing their vision to make CEI a leading full service HVAC company.

Growth & Expansion

From 1974 to 1983, CEI saw steady growth and revenue expansion making it an attractive merger candidate. Looking to move into different market segments and leverage new synergies, Claude Williams and Dave Hessee, in 1984, sold CEI to Koppers/Teer and later retired in 1987. Within the same year, Alan Williams was selected to be the new president of CEI. Shortly after the CEI change in leadership, in 1988, Beazer acquired Koppers/Teer in an unfriendly takeover.

In 1989, Beazer/Teer indicated to CEI’s management that they were interested in selling Comfort’s business assets to CEI’s management. Ten employee stockholders as well as two outside investors bought the company back from Beazer/Teer in June of 1990. Seven of the original stockholders continue to own the company 18 years later.

The new management team consisted of five members, Alan Williams, President, Layne Hessee, Executive Vice President, Chris Perry, Controller, Jerry Overaker, Senior Estimator, and Barry Grinstead, Construction Manager. Chris Perry, Controller, was formerly with Teer and joined the management team of CEI during June of 1990.

A Top Provider

From 1990 to the early 2000’s, CEI further established its brand and became one of the top HVAC service providers in the central Carolina market. In 2004, CEI purchased new accounting software, which improved the company’s financial systems.

In 2007, management implemented a reorganization plan, structuring the company into the current divisions: Residential Service, Commercial Service, Construction, Shop, and Manufacturing. In 2012, Chris Perry retired, and he along with another outside investor and other former employee sold their stock. In 2013, Manufacturing was renamed Special Fabrication to more accurately reflect their business focus and capabilities. Comfort Properties LLC, an entity with the same owners as CEI, purchased real estate in 1996, 1997, and 2004, which currently houses CEI’s business operations.