Our story

The Key to Better Business

Bob Heisler

Post World War Two America experienced the start of many new beginnings. During this era of resurgence, two business men with engineering backgrounds started the original Key Mechanical. Bob Heisler and Lee Sandahl began what was known as Key Mechanical Industries in Southern California in 1956. The new firm specialized in commercial mechanical contracting.

Lee Sandahl

After many successful decades of conducting business in Southern California, the firm expanded northward. In 1975 Key Mechanical opened up shop in Kent Washington, just south of Seattle. The growth posed new challenges to the firm. In search of new business avenues, Key broadened its business lines to include commercial refrigeration installation and service in the late 1980’s.

As a result of this new business line, Key partnered with what was then Tyler Refrigeration to become an authorized Tyler dealer. This allowed Key to more easily offer superior products to clients and become the authority on Tyler refrigeration cases and parts in the region.

Frank Leonard

During this time, the firm also experienced the passing of the baton. Bob and Lee, looking to exit the business, found a successor in Frank Leonard who became President and CEO in1990; while the Southern California divisions were passed on to different successors.

The 1990s also saw a rapid expansion of the economy and business, particularly in the Northwest. In 1998 Key Mechanical opened a new location in Portland Oregon to meet the needs of this expanding market. In 2002 the growth continued with the opening of a new branch in Livermore California.

Throughout the 2000’s, there was a flurry of merger and acquisition activity in the refrigeration industry. This resulted in Key Mechanical becoming an authorized Hillphoenix® dealer. This move strengthened Key’s relationship with its supplier and increased the product options available to clients.

Throughout Key’s history however, the firm has stood as a leader in service, innovation and expertise in commercial mechanical contracting. The principles and values of our founders still guide our ethical business model today. We treat our clients, employees, vendors and suppliers with the utmost integrity and respect.

Key Principles:

Bob Heisler in front of
Key Air in Santa Fe Springs
  • Treat clients, employees and suppliers with respect and fairness
  • Make use of the highest caliber personnel available to operate all departments
  • Perform all work in a manner that is a credit to the industry and to the firm

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