Family legacy

Daniel Potter searches on his phone for information about HVAC parts while sitting at his grandfather's desk at B.A. Maintenance Services, Inc. Daniel moved to Cynthiana almost a decade ago because his grandfather, George Velat, asked him to join the family business.

Daniel Potter was in the middle of the spring semester at Middle Tennessee State University where he was majoring in construction management engineering when he received a phone call from his grandfather, George Velat, asking him to come to Cynthiana and join the family business.

Daniel hesitated at first, but by summer he had decided to move to Harrison County and work with George at B.A. Maintenance Services, Inc., which George founded in 1987.

"I wanted to pass it on to him as a legacy," George says. 

Daniel had no background in installing and repairing heating and air conditioning systems, but as he began learning the trade from his grandfather, he found he liked it.  "I just enjoyed fixing the equipment and naturally enjoyed talking to people and figuring out problems," he says.

Now almost a decade later, Daniel and George continue to work together, with Daniel handling installation and service calls and George taking care of the books and other office duties.

The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, but Daniel also answers service calls on weekends.

Daniel describes the start of his workday as a "rabbit morning." 

"It's pretty much go -– get up, start doing all the service calls I can get to.  I try to get everybody the same day, if at all possible, just because that's just what we do," Daniel says.  " I don't want to be hot or cold, and we don't want them (to be) either." 

The family business is one of the few HVAC businesses in the region that can service old equipment such as oil furnaces. "It's very finicky. If you don't know what you're doing, you can really mess one up," Daniel says. 

At the end of each day, Daniel goes home to his wife, Brittany Potter, who is expecting their second child, and his daughter, Ellie, 2.  He helps his wife prepare a meal for the family. "I can't stay still or sit around in a rocking chair; I don't operate that way," Daniel says.

"It's not easy working the hours I do, but I try to be all in when home. I try to keep work and other things out of mind while I'm with (my family)," he  says. "This job is not for someone who wants to have a social life. Nonetheless, I enjoy it." 

George has signed over the business to his grandson, but that hasn't changed their working arrangement.

"It will be a pleasure to turn the business over to him when I retire," George says. "He has increased the business 300% in the last three years."

"He'll never retire, but eventually I will take over," Daniel says. 

Daniel gathers his tools from the back of his service truck before heading to the basement of one his clients to fix a flooded gas valve.
Daniel speaks to customer Lloyd Burrows before heading to his basement to fix a heat exchanger. "I didn't expect him to come fast," Lloyd says. "Daniel is a good guy."
Daniel repairs the heat exchanger in the basement of Lloyd Burrows' home.
Daniel tightens the replaced gas valve of a 70-year-old gravity boiler. "It's not very efficient but it works," Daniel says. The valve flooded after heavy rain.
In the dark basement of Mt. Carmel Christian Church, Daniel cleans the pilot orifice on the furnace. He noticed it was dirty while changing the gas valve. "I think I passed on to him the ability to research and uncover problems," George says about his grandson.
Daniel enters the basement of one of his clients, carrying parts to decontaminate an air duct vent hole in which a child had urinated. "Water damage is not out of the ordinary; urination is," Daniel says.
After the family dog spilled its water bowl, Daniel wipes the kitchen floor of the family's home while his daughter, Ellie, watches.
Brittany Potter plays with Ellie while preparing a meal. About their daughter, Daniel says, "I love her; she is a character."
Daniel holds Ellie while preparing a meal at the end of a long day.