With the first cold days of winter the phones start ringing off the hook at Schneller Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning as customers discover their furnace isn’t working properly.

“Whenever people turn their furnace for the first time is always a real crazy time for us,” says Kris Knochelmann, president of Schneller, which serves Northern Kentucky and the eastside of Cincinnati from offices in Amelia and Covington. 

Knochelmann, who became Kenton County Judge-Executive earlier this year, has been in the plumbing and heating business his whole life, first at his family’s firm and since 2011 as owner of Schneller. You don’t always need a furnace tune-up before the heating season, he says, but it’s a good idea to turn it on once to make sure it is in working order. That and a working carbon monoxide detector are two things to remember as the weather turns cold, he says.

Schneller, which will mark its 88th year in business next April, employs about 40, including about 10 members of Knochelmann’s family, and expects revenues of about $7 million this year.

Personal service has a lot to do with Schneller’s success, Knochelmann says.

“It’s kind of a cliché, but it always comes down to people,” he says. “Every one of our technicians is personally requested once they’ve been in a customer’s home. If they aren’t they’re probably not doing something right,” he says. 

“One of the most frustrating things for a customer is to not reach a live person to get a [service] call booked and then not have somebody show up. That shouldn’t be hard in a service business,” he says.

To make it easier for customers, Schneller has introduced online appointment scheduling on its website and it includes bio’s and photos of all its technicians so customers know who’s doing the work.

Within the last year, the company has also added a feature that allows customers to login to their account via the website and see their account history to track invoices or work done. “We don’t need to make it complicated,” he says. “It’s frustrating enough when your heat is out or you have no hot water. We want to make sure the customers using us today are also using us 10 years from now.”

In one of its biggest investments outside of its vehicle fleet, Schneller is the first plumbing service provider in Northern Kentucky to invest in new sewer lining equipment that allows it to repair broken sewer lines without digging up a customer’s yard.

Loaded on a 16-foot truck the equipment arm pushes a bladder through a cleared sewer and lines it with a composite material that hardens like PVC pipe.

The system not only saves digging up a yard but also is also more cost effective, he says.

“The best option in a lot of cases is to line the sewer rather than dig it up and replace it,” he says.