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Renée Taylor, Button’s Heating & AIR CONDITIONING

In the early weeks of the pandemic Renée Taylor acted quickly to guide the entire Button’s Heating & Air Conditioning team toward a proactive approach. She introduced a broad slate of safety procedures, and supplied crews with the personal protection equipment (PPE) they would need to keep themselves safe, and protect their customers in Pickering and Toronto, and the public.

“We did a risk assessment and it was obvious that the highest protocols were critical for the safety of our people and also an important message to send to our customers. Once they were in place and we learned that we had been designated as an essential service we began talking about these precautions with our customers and we also used radio advertising to let people know that they could rely on us to care about their safety.” Procedures included detailed questions about customer situations, PPE, sanitizing everything, contactless visits, online paperwork and so on.

“I wanted to get ahead of this and get our crews comfortable with the equipment and the new procedures. As a management team we agreed that the faster we adapted the more likely we would be still standing a few months later. Now we’re fully booked for more than a month ahead, and it’s not only for air conditioning. Customers have responded to the message.”

Renée is one of three owners of Button’s under a new structure that is very much a passing of the torch from one generation down to the next in a family business. “I am representing my father, Joe Button. My colleague and cousin Todd Button is Earl’s son.

The company was founded in 1977 by brothers Joe, Earl and David Button. “Three hard working Newfies with hearts of gold,” says Renée. “Even when they had nothing they gave everything.” The third new partner is John Johnston, not technically a family member, “But he might as well be.” A long time installer with the company, John now leads the installation team.

“But that doesn’t mean I got to where I am now because of my father. I had to fight for and earn every step. Nothing was just given to me. I had to prove myself.” Renée agreed to work for the company right after university, not sure how long she might do so at the time. “But I worked hard at it. I took on the challenge of creating the company’s first web site, and raised the bar on our trade show promotions. I also added to my education with human resources courses. It turns out that small companies are exciting to work for because you can create real change and make an impact.”

“There have been the usual obstacles in a traditionally male field, but there is a general respect for what I do. I’ve picked up a lot of HVAC knowledge along the way and occasionally when I’m explaining things to people at trade shows they ask me if I’m a licensed technician. I’m not. Mostly I handle the company’s finances, business strategies to improve the bottom line, marketing strategy, health and safety processes and human resources.” She is now Vice-President and Partner, for a firm with a full installation group, and service technicians serving the Durham Region and Greater Toronto market. “Normally we would have at least a dozen trucks on the road and we’re almost back to that level now.”

“I think the secret to success is to show up, pay attention, work hard and care about what you do. It really shows when you care. I don’t do things halfway. That’s not my style. But even though we work hard we make sure we have time for a laugh. My favourite part of the job is working with the people, management, administration, technicians; we have a family spirit here.”

When the time comes Button’s may continue as a family company. Renée’s son is interested in the technical side of the business. One of John’s daughters seems also to be interested in the ‘tool side.’  Todd Button’s children also are showing an interest in the family business.

Whether they are sons or daughters, Renée says: “You can do anything you want to do. Show up, pay attention and care about what you’re doing. You’ll get there.” Obviously the formula works. Renée Taylor has proven it.