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Nate Nelson leads the construction team at Comfort Systems USA Southwest, exemplifying our core values. Nate says, “Our core value of Be Respectful is important in any work environment, with both our company team members and our customers. You’ve got to give it to receive it.” As a well-respected leader himself, he is driven to continuous improvement and the highest standard of performance across the organization.
Nate has been in the construction industry for almost 24 years and 18 of those have been spent with CSUSASW. He also had the opportunity to expand his knowledge of the General Contractor side of the business, where he spent over five years. He brings his skills in project management, purchasing, estimating, and operations to his current executive leadership role. Nate began his career in Shipping & Receiving (Shop) and is grateful for the opportunities he has been given to progress and grow within Comfort Systems USA Southwest.
Nate’s family is his greatest motivation in all aspects of his life. He enjoys spending time with them hiking, going on family vacations, or just hanging out. He also enjoys traveling with his wife when they have the chance.
Scott Sawyer manages the financial actions for Comfort Systems USA Southwest with his high regard for integrity. His personal driver is to “do what is right and do it with commitment” and he leads the finance team with that philosophy.
Scott has 24 years of accounting and finance experience including 16 years in construction. He joined the Comfort Systems USA Southwest team in 2011. He believes that you don’t have to attend a big, well-known university to have a great career—hard work and dedication create opportunities.
Scott holds a BA in Business, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and is also a member of AICPA, ASCPA, and CFMA. He enjoys investing and is a big AZ Cardinals and KC Chiefs fan.
“The choices we make dictate the lives we lead.” William Shakespeare
This simple statement establishes the framework by which Tim Plaster makes decisions every day. As Executive VP of Building Services, Tim leads the department in establishing goals, communicating those goals and inspiring the team into action. Tim says, “Setting goals are one of the most important functions of success, and I’m a firm believer that without goals and the drive to achieve them you will always fall short. Company goals also require teamwork, so the communication of our goals must be clear to the entire team and that team has to be inspired to make it all happen.”
Tim’s 42 years of industry experience includes obtaining an AAS Degree in Design, New Mexico Qualifying Party certificate, multiple licenses, and certifications in Safety, Piping, Plumbing and HVAC. Throughout his career he has attained numerous promotions, successful projects and led winning teams that have grown profitable businesses; yet he considers his most important accomplishment as having the ability to mentor and help others find success and growth in our industry and in life.
In Tim’s spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Josephine, photography, and restoring and off-roading Jeeps.
Todd Stanfield has been in the construction industry for over 40 years. He got his start through a high school vocation technical program in HVAC and has achieved success in multiple roles leading up to his current position as the VP of Construction Sales. He has always applied his personal philosophy to lead by example, saying, “I never ask my team to do more than I am willing to do myself.”
Throughout his career, Todd has held positions in sheet metal leadership, shop management, estimating and special projects. As part of the Comfort Systems USA Southwest executive team, Todd currently leads the Estimating Department, provides conceptual pre-construction estimates to clients and performs business development functions for the construction team. Todd is a graduate of Comfort Systems Project Manager Academy, Comfort Systems Leadership Development, and Arizona Builders Alliance L.D.F.
Todd says, “I feel blessed to have had the opportunities Comforts Systems USA Southwest has given me. I’m proud to have been a part of the team that took us from a small residential air conditioning company to one of the largest, most trusted commercial mechanical contractors in the state.”
With a passion for adventure sports, Todd enjoys mountain biking, wind surfing and kite boarding. He treasures his time in Northern AZ with his wife, Kerry, as well as with their three children and a growing number of grandchildren.
“Through hard work and dedication, I will overcome any challenge the day will throw at me.” This is Mike Smith’s defining principle—one that has served him well throughout his life and 21-year career in the construction industry.
Since joining Comfort Systems USA Southwest in 2000, Mike completed four years of formal education at Gateway Community College, a NCCER Pipefitting apprenticeship and various training certifications. He worked his way up to journeyman and then foreman, general foreman and piping superintendent. He moved into project management and was then tasked to manage the manufacturing shop before he was promoted to Director of Preconstruction.
Currently, as Associate VP of Construction, Mike is responsible for overseeing and managing the coordination between the VDC team, Manufacturing Shop, and Field Operations. He lives life with the belief that you should treat others as you would want to be treated and you should work hard every day, so you feel you have earned everything you have gained. Mike says, “No matter how hard your body wants to quit, you push through it every day.” Without singling out a particular event, he views his greatest career accomplishment as the opportunity to be a part of such a great organization that is on its way to being the best mechanical contractor in the southwest.
Mike enjoys ranching with his wife–his best friend of 27 years. He has two children; a daughter, 25, and a son, 23. He loves to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors, off-roading, camping and exploring Arizona.
Leading the service team for Comfort Systems USA Southwest is Jimmy Bennett. Jimmy can be described as a dedicated leader that leads by example; maintains a high level of standards and safety and refuses to tolerate mediocrity or poor performance. He promotes building strong partnerships with all employees and customers. Jimmy practices the ‘3 C’s’ of leadership: Consideration, Caring, and Courtesy, and believes you should be polite to everyone but let no one take advantage of you. He values all employees and empowers them to use their skills and talents to live out the company mission to success.
Jimmy joined the Comfort Systems USA Southwest team in 2013 to lead the service division. He has 28 years of experience in HVACR, from service technician to operations director. He completed a 5-year HVACR degree through Emily Griffith Technical College in Denver Colorado and has earned many different industry-related Certificates throughout the years. Jimmy is responsible for overseeing the Building Services Department for all HVACR Service, Preventive Maintenance, Operations, and financials for the business.
Jimmy likes hunting and fishing, and also enjoys watching both the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals football games. He has a lovely wife, Kimberly, of 24 years, and two grown children, Emilie and Grant. Jimmy and Kimberly also spend time traveling and watching Emilie play collegiate soccer for Northern Arizona University.
Kathy DeCicco has been advocating for Comfort Systems USA Southwest employees for 26 years. As Director of Human Resources, she handles a multitude of employee relations activities, including employment compliance, recruitment, employment law and liability, and benefits administration. She also oversees the day-to-day operations of the payroll department to provide effective and efficient delivery of services to support the company.
Kathy’s greatest career accomplishment has been the creation and development of the Human Resources department for Tri-City Mechanical (now Comfort Systems USA Southwest). Kathy earned her BA in Accounting and over the years she has led the department with a strong work ethic and a 100%-effort attitude. She is committed to helping team members thrive in a dynamic business environment.
In her leisure time, Kathy enjoys family time with her husband, children and grandchildren. She stays active working out, bike-riding, golfing, and likes to bake.
At Comfort Systems USA Southwest, safety is a priority. BE SAFE was placed at the top of our corporate core values –not by accident! Driving that standard is Director of Safety/Risk Management Abel Franco. He is focused on keeping our company safe through effective training, motivation and engagement with employees and management. Abel’s personal philosophy is simple; ‘Always do the right thing.’ He applies this through transparency with his actions and communications with teammates and management.
Not a stranger to keeping an organization safe, with his 20 years as a Safety professional, Abel is experienced in developing and implementing successful regulatory compliance programs and procedures. Among his most rewarding accomplishments in his career, he shares, “A co-worker once called me and thanked me for the first aid/CPR training I had provided him. He had to perform CPR on a family member. It was truly a humbling experience for me and showed me that my successes can be measured by more than metrics.”
Abel’s credentials include earning an Associates of Applied Science in Occupational Safety and Health Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor – National Safety Council, Associate Safety Professional – BCSP, and Certified Safety Professional – BCSP.
In his leisure time, Abel loves to fish. Not because of the fish, but rather because of the opportunity to take part in an activity that is peaceful.
“In whatever you do, don’t just show up, show up well. Choose to make a positive, lasting impression.”
As the Director of Marketing & Business Development, Gail Gust is charged with carrying out the company vision and strategic marketing initiatives to ensure the business thrives. She leads with a service mindset, striving to produce solutions and materials for both internal and external customers that stand out above the rest.
Throughout her career, Gail has had the privilege of leading teams and consulting with business owners to transform brands and grow revenue and market share. “The strategy comes first,” Gail says, “you have to know where you’re going and map out how to get there…” Among her most valued accomplishments include a three-month assignment in Soule, Korea to manage the expansion of a health supplement brand, and leading the marketing for the launch of a new industry product brand for one of the world’s largest hotel companies. She is happy to be a part of the talented team at Comfort Systems USA Southwest and is excited to apply her expertise to help grow the business.
Gail lives an active lifestyle and loves outdoor activities, including hiking and golf. She holds a Personal Trainer Certificate from NASM and likes to challenge herself as well as help her friends and family with their fitness goals. Her most precious time is spent with her three favorite guys, two of which are her teenage sons.
Gary Niver, P.E. LEEP AP, leads the engineering team and virtual construction efforts at Comfort Systems USA Southwest with his underlying philosophy (quoted by Harvey MacKay) that, hard work often leads to success–no work seldom does.
Gary has over 40 years of engineering experience in the design, manufacturing and construction of mechanical HVAC and plumbing systems for commercial, institutional and mission critical facilities. Twenty-five+ years into his career, Gary went back to school and passed the Fundamentals of Engineering and Professional Engineer tests without a formal engineering degree. He is now a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Arizona and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
Gary says, “I have been blessed to have worked in a field that I truly enjoy and very fortunate to have been mentored by engineers who were open to new ideas of construction. It is my desire to share that same creative passion to our team here. I have also been blessed to have been married to my high school sweetheart for 41 years. We have two daughters and six grandkids. We enjoy RV-ing and old cars.”
“Every problem you face, in business and in life, is a leadership problem.”
– Jocko Willink
For Brian Ruffner, Director of Sales for our Services division, Attitude is a life philosophy – a personal perspective. Lead. Win. Brian says, “I live by the code to get better every day and to be the exception in everything I do. I believe the team comes first and in the philosophy of ‘extreme ownership’ that is the baseline of building a high-performance, winning team. It is all on me but not about me. It starts with the belief that ‘all your excuses are lies.’ We don’t find ourselves; we create ourselves. To dominate the battlefield of life as well as business you must enact discipline, train hard, take action, know your why, be humble, be authentic and get after it every day.”
In Brian’s four years at Comfort Systems USA Southwest, he has helped the Building Services team double its revenue and increase OI (operating income) by over 40%. His favorite question is, “how can we accomplish this goal and have the most fun we have ever had doing it?”
Previous to his role at CSUSA-SW Brian was instrumental in helping a national electrical contractor change the culture of the PNW Region. They were able to grow from $60M per year to over $280M per year along with setting the 25-year record for profitability.
Brian has over 30 years in construction industry with General Contractors and Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing firms. He holds a a BS – Education; MA – Education; PsyD – Organizational Development & Business Performance (pursuing).
Brian and his wife, Debbie, have 6 children and 9 grandchildren. As a family of faith, they are passionate about volunteering with children and adults with special needs, and with several sports programs in the local area. They enjoy playing tennis, golf, fishing, hunting, tactical training, and hiking. Brian was former tennis professional and was ranked nationally #5 in the US.
Randy Sparaco leads the Building Services Operations team with Quality at the forefront. He believes that leading a successful team requires a high level of quality in everything they do. The importance of completing even the smallest task with attention to detail is never dismissed.
Randy has over 23 years in the industry and has attained many relevant certifications, including OSHA 10-Hour, EPA Refrigerant Certification – Universal, and Fred Pryor Management Training Certificate. He received his degree in HVAC Refrigeration Technology and has attended multiple management training courses to hone his skills and become a valuable leader for Comfort Systems USA SW.
Randy is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the successful Building Services team. He deems the highlight of his career as having been chosen to fill the role of Director of Operations. Outside of his career, he enjoys spending quality time camping with his family and jumps at the chance to spend time outdoors whenever he can.
In the CSUSASW Albuquerque, NM office, Alfredo (“Fred”) Florez leads with his philosophy to do every task safely and with a positive attitude. His upbeat and enthusiastic approach gets the entire team involved with the day-to-day operations by expressing their ideas, communicating, and holding each other accountable.
Having been in the construction industry for 21 years, Alfredo has gained an extensive amount of experience and has earned a multitude of certifications, including the Associated Builders and Contractors Sheet Metal Course and Project Supervision Series, Superintendent Academy, OSHA 30 and more. His skills range from hands-on installation and repair of HVAC equipment, fabrication, welding; field supervision and training; to project management and estimating utilizing MS Office software and BIM tools. He has completed projects in a variety of environments including military bases, schools, hospitals and data centers, and has extensive clean room experience. Alfredo says, “I consider my entire career as an ongoing accomplishment. I enjoy learning new skills, meeting new people, finding solutions, overcoming challenges, and completing successful projects.”
Embracing the beauty of New Mexico, Alfredo enjoys being outdoors hiking, camping, hunting, and BBQ-ing. He relishes family time with his fiancée, Jennifer, and their two daughters, Bella (11) and Ari (5), who stay active with gymnastics and TaeKwonDo.
PERSEVERANCE: The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.
The Tucson office of Comfort Systems USA Southwest is led by Hector Herrera, who leads with perseverance as his driving force. His philosophy is to never give up. He believes in patience, respect, being humble and to never stop learning—both through books and from other people.
Throughout Hector’s 21 years in the construction industry, he has obtained his Arizona Registrar of Contractors License in Commercial and Residential Plumbing (including Solar), 6010 Medgas Installer Certification, OSHA 10 and 30 Certifications and a Project Management Certificate from Pima Community College. The promotion to General Manager of the Tucson office is one of Hector’s most highly-regarded professional accomplishments.
On the personal side, Hector spends his time enjoying gardening, sport archery, reading, traveling, and watching a good movie. Always practicing perseverance, he challenges himself to learn new things. Above all, Hector says, “I love my family, and I live and breathe for them.”
Eddie Aquirre leads by example with his philosophy of, “Be on time and willing to work, everything else will work itself out.” As Superintendent in the Building Services department, Eddie is engaged with his team and is excited to see the opportunities and diverse types of projects that each day brings. He prides himself on the ability to communicate with his team so they understand what is needed to perform the job efficiently and accurately.
Eddie has over 20 years of experience in the mechanical industry. He began his career with Comfort Systems USA Southwest in 2017 as a Service Field Foreman & Installer, and quickly worked his way up to a General Superintendent. Eddie’s diverse background on both the wet and dry side make him an excellent fit as a Superintendent. He is experienced in working with a wide variety of mechanical equipment ranging from swamp coolers, boilers, cooling towers, and chillers. He has achieved multiple industry certifications and completed the Lessons in Leadership Academy at CSUSASW.
Eddie enjoys spending time with his family, including a son who is following in his footsteps in the industry, working as a service plumber at Comfort Systems USA Southwest, and a new-born son. He and his wife stay active and love to work out together.
As a 20+ year veteran with Comfort Systems USA Southwest, Ralph Castine leads the team as General Foreman with a solution-oriented approach. He values honesty and continuous communication with customers and his team. He is driven to come to a resolution and resolve issues quickly.
Ralph’s extensive understanding of the trade, and sheet metal specifically, began in 1998 as a residential technician doing change-outs in Illinois. He began as an Apprentice with CSUSASW before moving into a Journeyman and quickly became one of our highly demanded Foremen.
Over the years Ralph has achieved many certifications to hone his skills. His certifications include: LEED, OSHA 30, Forklift and Aerial Lift Certified, and he is a Qualified Rigger & Signaler. He has expanded his leadership skills with the CSUSA Lessons in Leadership I & II, and he received his CSUSA Superintendent Academy Certificate.
“Work smarter, not harder.” Words from Plumbing Superintendent Darren Rand. He adds, “I believe in saying what I mean and doing what I say. It is important to me to be honest and reliable…” Darren displays this viewpoint as he leads teams through successful implementation of construction projects. Along the way, he enjoys coaching and serving as a mentor to help develop top field leadership, while finding ways to work more efficiently in everything they do.
Darren brings 34 years of experience in the industry. Among his accomplishments, he built a field operations unit in the Mid-Atlantic regions from the ground-up. This included all mechanical trade disciplines, fabrication facility, transportation, superintendent/ foreman training program and safety program. Darren has multiple certifications, including Master PLM, Master Gas Fitter, Master HVAC in 3 States, Steam & Hot Water Supervisory Cert, Refrigeration Supervisory Cert, and Backflow Cert.
Outside of his career, Darren loves spending time with his wife and family. He likes to stretch his musical muscles by playing guitar and piano, and also enjoys golfing.
Mario Ruiz began his career in the construction industry in 2004, working as an apprentice with Comfort Systems USA Southwest. Throughout the past 17 years, Mario has gained valuable skills, including vacuum testing, tube bending and stainless welding and much more. He has achieved certifications in Orbital welding, PUDF fusion welding, and is OSHA 10-hr trained.
As a Superintendent in the company’s Building Services division, Mario leads with the philosophy of leading by example in the style of a servant leader. Mario says, “I serve my team members by helping in any way I can—simply by getting my hands dirty. I know the trade well and get involved in everything from material take off’s, scheduling deliveries, purchasing material, helping with paperwork, and pre-loading trailers with material and equipment. This all rolls over into developing my team to perform at a higher level.”
Mario’s career highlight was having the opportunity to assist in the establishment of a fabrication area for the Service department in Chandler. This opened up doors for the Building Services division to head its own fabrication for projects, provided a home-base for field foremen to work, and allowed storage of materials for up-coming projects.
When Mario is not serving the team at Comfort Systems USA Southwest, he enjoys spending time with family and traveling with friends.
“Control what you can control and don’t worry about the stuff you can’t!”
John Schoellgen’s philosophy to control what you can and not worry about what you can’t, has served him well as he leads teams in the field. Being a goal-oriented self-starter, staying focused on the things you can control allows him to accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently.
John has over 25 years in the HVAC trade. He has extensive experience in both field positions as well as office positions. John has several certifications including OSHA 30-Hour, Forklift, Boom Lift, and Scissor Lift Certification. He is also skilled in Estimating and Project Management, and works with Microsoft Office applications. Working in both field and office capacities gives him a unique perspective most people in the HVAC trade do not possess.
Among his accomplishments, John notes that he finished Camelback High School EAB with 9000 hours left. And, as General Superintendent, he led the field during the merger of 5 HVAC companies and created and implemented the plan to integrate the field personnel into one cohesive unit.
John is married with two dogs and he enjoys traveling with his wife. On the adventurous side, he is a NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors) dive instructor.