Access Heating and Air, based out of Meridian, Idaho, has been a Nexstar Network member for just over a year. However, Nexstar was on the company’s radar much before that.

Access owner Keith Lithander called himself something of a “hard sell” as far as Nexstar Network goes. His friend of 18 years Kirk Miko, owner of J&D Heating and Air Conditioning, had been a Nexstar member since 2010.

“I wanted to watch Kirk, he is always honest about things and he’ll tell it like it is,” Keith said. “A strong recommendation from Kirk Miko is why I decided to pull the trigger and join.”

Lisa White, of the Nexstar membership sales team, said she worked with Keith for seven years before he decided to join. He was also in a closed market, but those members in the market—Kirk Miko and Marty Cullen, owner of A-1 Plumbing and Perfect Air—voted to allow Access into Nexstar. In November 2014, Keith finally took the leap and it’s beginning to pay off.

Over the year 2015, Access had undergone some major changes, including an increased marketing effort and restructuring of its 10-person team. Nexstar is helping Access build a foundation to catapult the business forward, although Access is already supported by a close-knit group of employees.

“We roll as a team,” Keith said. “We’ve seen so much change in the last two years in the business, since joining Nexstar. At times it’s been hard: We’ve moved people into different seats, people who have been in a certain role for several years are fitting into something different. They’re willing to take it for the team and step up to the plate.”

Access was originally in the construction industry for several years before making the switch to residential in 2004, a smart decision in hindsight, Keith said.

“We went cold turkey from construction to residential service repair and maintenance,” he said. “So many people went out of business during the recession; by the grace of God we skimped through and made it out of that.”

Now that Access has joined Nexstar, the company has built a foundation for marketing success and has started to get coaching and tracking in place. Nexstar Business Coach Jodie Deegan said having Access at a Business Planning Workshop in fall 2015 was a turning point.

“It really lit the fuse,” Jodie said. “Since doing that, they’ve been focused on getting the three-day call board in place, built a marketing plan and pace report. I’ve been getting those guys focused on the daily numbers—getting Keith re-engaged in the business.”

The best is yet to come for Access and they started the first year with Nexstar on the right foot, said Nexstar Marketing Coach Melanie Tauring.

“What they were able to do for themselves is get a foundation from which we can build,” Melanie said. “That’s the key a lot of new members miss. When you come in, you have to start a foundation. If you’re not tracking and you don’t know, that’s OK. But get something on paper, get a foundation so that we can start to either do a gut check or to track to find out what’s working.”

Not only has the coaching been a help to Access, but the networking aspect of Nexstar has been a big benefit of membership, Keith said.

“Having a coach like Melanie to guide us has been huge,” he said. “Being able to work with preferred vendors is huge. Working with Jodie has been awesome. He’s held my feet to the fire, he’s been there to listen and be supportive, he has a lot of wisdom and I respect what he has to say. I take Nexstar coaches seriously. It’s a great value to have them. That’s been huge to meet people at the meetings—regional and annual, to meet people that are in the same boat that I’m in.”

Read the full story in our most recent issue of “At Your Service.”