Since its founding, the firm’s record of sales of Carrier equipment has been phenomenal and envied by the entire industry. The company has averaged selling 60 to 65 percent of it through the years. The record of service and taking care of customers started small in 1936 and has continued. Comfort Engineering’s fleet of trucks and personnel are known to most everyone in their territory.
Comfort Engineering was founded in 1936 by N.B. Buchanan, an engineering graduate of the University of Auburn Class of 1907. Buchanan had been a Ford dealer and a resident engineer with the Public Housing Authority in the 1930s. He took a Carrier refrigeration course which led to the decision to be a Carrier dealer.
Buchanan drove his Model T Ford from Tupelo to Carrier headquarters in Newark, N.J. He spoke to Jack Bickle who was in charge of the Carrier Dealer Organization. Bickle told Buchanan that while he did not have a strong business success background, anyone who would drive that far in a Model T certainly showed that he wanted in the A/C business. Buchanan was given a Carrier franchise.
After returning to Tupelo, Buchanan set up his organization of installation and service in the Copeland-Shaw building, which was razed and is now the location of BancorpSouth headquarters. He subcontracted the sheet metal work. As soon as the business opened, he began selling. His first commercial job was the R.W. Reed Department Store, and the Reed’s store was the first to offer an indoor air-conditioned shopping experience in Tupelo.
The first residential installation was in 1936 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Rutherford. Rutherford was publisher of the Daily Journal.
Starting in the air conditioning business in 1936 was a slow process for the Comfort Engineering Co. Just as it was beginning to take hold, World War II broke out. Since air conditioning equipment was frozen for the most part of the war, little new work was completed. But, equipment already installed was kept operational.
Future installations were planned for the day equipment became available. The first commercial installations after hiatus were for Pryor’s Dress Shop, TKE Drug Store, Spights’ department store, Black and White Store, McGauhy’s department store and Hines Brothers.
Comfort Engineering’s original territory was Northeast Mississippi – from U.S. Highway 82 north to the Tennessee line and as far west as Starkville. Comfort Engineering is now well known for installation in a 50-mile radius from Tupelo going to Corinth, Oxford and West Point for some customers.
In December 1952, Buchanan sold Comfort Engineering to W.W. “Bill” Timbes and B.S. “Smith” McDougal. The firm then moved to 824 North Gloster Street, its current location. Tom Wiley, who had been with Comfort Engineering several years, was made a partner in 1961. In 1979, Tom’s son Bob joined the family business. Bob’s sons Matt and Preston have followed in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and have assumed the reins of Comfort Engineering.
Today Comfort Engineering still has the largest installation and service department in North Mississippi. It has added its own sheet metal department in order to have complete installation under one roof.
Since its founding, the firm’s record of sales of Carrier equipment has been phenomenal and envied by the entire industry. There have been years when Comfort Engineering has installed as much as 90 percent of the air conditioning equipment in its territory. The company has averaged selling 60 to 65 percent of it through the years. The record of service and taking care of customers started small in 1936 and has continued. Comfort Engineering’s fleet of trucks and personnel are known to most everyone in their territory.
Comfort Engineering is family owned and family run. Matt and Preston Wiley are very hands-on in the business.