MORTON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Joseph Oliver says he took a leap of faith when he founded Oliver Heating & Cooling in 1971, now located in Morton, Delaware County.
"I was an engineer," explained Oliver. "I got a master's degree from Yale."
Before starting his business, Oliver had worked for helicopter companies. He says he had no plans to leave that line of work, but as the war in Vietnam was winding down, production slowed, and he was laid off.
"It was disastrous," he said. "I had a family, a wife and six kids."
Oliver says being left with no job, he decided to go to church. There, it was suggested he get into the air conditioning business.
"It's scary, but I figured that that's what God wanted for me," he said.
Oliver says growing up during the depression, he learned the value of hard work and got to it -bringing his sons into it as well.
David Oliver, one of Joseph's sons, says he and his brothers "all grew up in the business" and worked there at some point.
Now 50 years later, the company is still going strong, having grown its services along with the times.
"We repair heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical and do remodeling for both residential and commercial," said Oliver.
His son, David, now serves as CEO, while Billy is the sheet metal shop foreman and fleet manager.
Billy Oliver says the sheet metal shop has been key in helping keep heating and cooling units operating at maximum efficiently by ensuring there is no air leakage in the ductwork connected to the units.
"We make all the ductwork for the houses custom," he said.
Joseph Oliver agrees and says he's noticed a tremendous difference since he first started in the business, calling the improvement in the efficiencies of heating and cooling units "fantastic."
His son, Billy, says he watched his dad build the company from the ground up with some good leaders along the way. He says the evolution of the company has been "amazing."
Oliver Heating & Cooling now has about 230 employees. David Oliver points out the company's "wall of fame," which features pictures of all their employees.
Joseph Oliver says when honoring employees, he didn't like to focus on what degree someone had, but rather the type of person they were and reward them for that. He says they try to "recognize people for character and not for, let's say, who's the best salesman."
David Oliver says that's why the company has its Golden Rule Award, which is given out to "one employee per year who exemplifies the Oliver way."
Oliver Heating & Cooling has come to be known for offering clients, 'Comfort You Can Trust,' but their team also gives back to the community through its Heat for the Holidays program.
"We repair a lot of furnaces for nothing," said Oliver. "Either their system's broken or it's not working right."
Oliver says employees volunteer to do this work to help people in need because, "that's what we're about."
"That's what keeps us going. We've been fortunate," he said.
For more information, visit Oliver Heating & Cooling online.