During the holiday season, fond memories fill our conversations and cheer is in the air. This is the time of the year when families come together and take pleasure in each other’s company. This is why we decided to write the story about River City’s One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating’s humble beginnings of how the company came to be one of the best and most successful Air Conditioning and Heating businesses in the state of Louisiana.
In the early 1970’s, a young Brigham Ragusa began to visualize his dream as a successful entrepreneur with his own business. Growing up, Brigham’s family owned their own tobacco shop here in Baton Rouge. His favorite part of his family’s business was their dedication to providing customers with a superior level of service. As a child, Brigham had a knack for all things mechanical. He enjoyed taking things apart and figuring out how to put them back together. Whether it was working in the family shop, or helping out around the house, Brigham was always looking for things that needed to be fixed. After graduating from Catholic High in 1967, Brigham attended Louisiana State University to study Mechanical Engineering. For Brigham, it was a no brainer that LSU was his college of choice. His family bled purple and gold, and for his chosen field of study, there was no better fit.
Being in Louisiana, most of the curriculum for the engineering classes were centered around the oil and gas industry, which is one of the most prevalent markets in the state. Brigham began learning industry specific concepts and advanced industrial trade practices that would equip him for his next move towards achieving his dream. Brigham knew that it would be extremely difficult to start an oil and gas company, especially in an economy that was shifting during the late 1960’s. After weeks of deliberation, Brigham shifted his vision back to what he knew – customer service. In May of 1971, Brigham Ragusa graduated from LSU and chose to pursue a career in the air conditioning field.
Brigham began his journey in the A/C industry working as a consultant for Trane in Baton Rouge. During this crucial period, Brigham began to learn the fundamentals of the heating and air industry. In 1975, Brigham moved to Houston to continue growing in his role at Trane. During this time, Brigham formulated his own strategy on how customers could benefit most from an Air Conditioning company. After participating in some management seminars, Brigham set his sights on building his own home service company. In 1980, Brigham and his family moved back to Baton Rouge and opened River City Air.
The company started off in a small office with only three employees: Brigham, his wife Betty, and his brother Don. Brigham was the technician, Betty was the Office Administrator and Accountant, and Don was the Sales Coordinator. All three were anxious to build a system that would revolutionize the way the air conditioning industry was viewed by the local market. They worked tirelessly to pursue their goal: to create a company whose core was grounded in customer care and satisfaction.
By 1985, River City Air was named one of the best residential and commercial A/C companies in Baton Rouge. Brigham was ecstatic with the success of his business. Then, in 1986, Louisiana went into one of the biggest recessions the state had ever experienced. Times grew tough and business slowed, but Brigham kept the lights on and phones plugged in. Doing whatever he could to aid his Baton Rouge community through those difficult days was priority number one.
In 1993, the recession started to dissipate. That same year Brigham’s son Jim graduated from LSU with a degree in Psychology. Just like his dad, Jim grew up with his parent’s business. After graduating, he worked for his dad as a service technician. He quickly picked up on the technical and clerical aspects of the business. Over the next few years, Jim was determined to employ the best methods to help River City Air continue to grow and progress.
Fast forward to 2003, Jim Wilson had become an influential figure in the heating and air industry. Also like his father, Jim aspired to one day own his own A/C business. Later that year, Jim used his resources to branch off from his father’s company to open his own; thus, came the One Hour Heating and Air was born. Over the next 10 years the two businesses worked side-by-side, utilizing each other’s resources, while learning and growing from the other’s strengths. Both companies received numerous awards for their outstanding services. With One Hour Air and River City Air both flourishing, Jim and Brigham started to see less partnership between their companies and more competition. In 2013, they decided to make it just that – a partnership – by merging the two to create the one River City’s One Hour Heating and Air.
River City’s One Hour Heating and Air has continued to receive recognition as one of the largest and most reputable HVAC companies in Louisiana, holding true to the same standards and values Brigham set back in 1980. The company has also joined in partnership with some other big heating and air companies in the South Louisiana area, such as Austin’s, Arnold’s, and, most recently, Kelly Scott’s Heating and Cooling. With all of the success River City has seen over the years, Brigham and his son Jim have made one thing clear: no matter what, honesty and excellent service is what drives their company.
As we head into Christmas, it is so powerful and special to look back at how much the River City One Hour family has grown. We are so blessed by all of our extraordinary family members we have gained.
To all of our loyal customers, thank you so much for trusting our family over the years! Our hearts are full! We look forward to supporting the Baton Rouge and surrounding communities for many years to come.