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Kathie Todd: 2014 HVACR Woman of the Year

September 8, 2014
By Elaine Yetzer Simon
From Contracting Business

No Doubt About Her!

Helping to build a wildly successful HVAC company from the ground up and making an impact on the industry as a whole are achievementsimage of Kathy Todd few people accomplish during their careers. Those are just a few reasons why Kathie Todd of Central Oregon Heating & Cooling, Redmond, OR, was chosen as Contracting Business .com’s 2014 Woman of the Year.

Todd helped found the company 20 years ago with her husband, Don, and Brian and Connie Smith, in their garages. Today, the $7 million company now has 45 employees and is the largest HVAC dealer in central Oregon.

Todd’s titles are administrative manager and chief financial officer of Central Oregon, but her responsibilities and scope of influence encompass a lot more territory. In addition to the financial side of the business, she also handles training, marketing, human resources, safety compliance and more.

Financial Background An Asset

Todd attributes much of her success to her background in tax work and accounting.

“Somebody in a company that’s going to grow, which was my husband’s dream, had to know how to read financials, read the trends, understand the numbers and provide that background support system,” Todd recalls. “I had the feet-on-the-ground aspect with what was required behind the scenes so I could support his vision.”

This type of partnership appealed to Todd on many levels.

“I love a challenge,” she says. “I love seeing the results of the efforts work in a positive way. It’s always been my goal to try to use what’s necessary but  make it work better for us. It’s a constant learning process. I don’t think it ever ends.”

Don Todd said Kathie has been a huge part of Central Oregon since Day 1.

“Her influence over the company is putting together all our ideas and making them happen,” he said. “She’s always been there for me. She’s made everything work.”

Don Todd said starting Central Oregon was really tough at first, partially because Kathie still worked a full-time job at a tax office, then came home and worked for Central Oregon in the evenings and on weekends. The couple also was raising four children at the time.

“We had no wages for the first seven months when we started,” he shares. “Then finally we started making $10 an hour and she was still making nothing. Then it slowly went up from there.”

Beginning to Soar

The Todds began working with Vicki and John LaPlant, consultants and owners of Vital Learning Experiences, in 2002, and that’s when the company really started to take flight. The LaPlants are two of the people who nominated Todd for Woman of the Year.

“My mind was just allowed to take off,” Todd says. “It was like somebody opened a door for me. I started understanding  the realm of HVAC as a business. Until then it was a job. It was what we did. Then I started realized the more I could see different ways for us to do the same things only maybe better.”

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