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One well-known Wichita family firm to sell to another

After five years of running Fahnestock Heating & Air Conditioning, DeeAnne Fahnestock is selling the business to Builders Inc.

Five years after taking over her late husband’s company and a couple of years after making it profitable again, DeeAnne Fahnestock is selling Fahnestock Heating & Air Conditioning to Builders Inc.

“This is a win-win for everybody,” Fahnestock says. “The employees, customers and me. It couldn’t have worked out more beautifully.”

Builders president Mike Garvey says nothing will change at the company, which does business as Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC & Electric.

“They’ve been around since … ’46,” he says. “We just want to continue to be good stewards for the Fahnestock family going forward.”

A large part of what Builders does is real estate management.

Fahnestock “kind of fits in with what we do already,” Garvey says.

Fahnestock says she believes Builders can take the company to the next level.

“That’s why I think it’s just the perfect fit.”

The deal is scheduled to close late this month.

The Fahnestock business and its 80 employees will remain at 3532 N. Comotara.

President Scot Pennington will remain in his position as well.

Fahnestock says she never intended to stay at the company long term.

“My whole purpose in stepping into the company was to get it back to profitability, and that’s exactly what’s happened.”

Her late husband, George Fahnestock, died seven years ago. His son, Eric Fahnestock, ran it for the first two years following his father’s death.

Then DeeAnne Fahnestock took over in January 2012.

The company had struggled since before her husband’s death.

“It was 2014 that we made a pretty good turn as far as profitability goes,” Fahnestock says. “It was off the tracks.”

Now the business is doing well, she says, and the difference is “like night and day.”

“I’ll tell you, the first thing I did was turn the business over to God,” Fahnestock says. “I just relied on him to help me be where I needed to be and do what I needed to do.”

One of the things that made the biggest difference, she says, was when she joined a group of national companies like hers.

“That saved us.”

She says she could learn from the companies.

“I knew nothing about running the company. I knew nothing about the industry. I was too scared to stand in front of the employees and speak in public. Things turned to where I needed to start doing that.”

She says she joined Toastmasters and conquered her fear.

Even with all her new knowledge, Fahnestock says, she’s not venturing into a new business.

“Oh, no,” she says. “I’m done. I’ve had enough excitement in my life. I’m just going to take time and breathe now.”

There was a time that was a little harder.

“When I jumped in in 2012, it was like swimming for my life,” Fahnestock says. “My prayer all along was ‘Help me find the right hand to put the company into.’ ”

She says Builders will be able to offer her employees even better benefits than she could.

Fahnestock says she thinks her late husband would approve.

“I think he is probably so proud of what we’ve done,” she says. “By ‘we,’ I mean the employees and the managers and Scot Pennington and I.”

Though she thinks George Fahnestock would be “just in disbelief that we could do this,” she also thinks he may have been lending a hand through the years.

“I think he’s probably been up there working on this with God.”

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