For 25 years, Assistant Service Manager April Johnston has been one of the most familiar friendly voices answering the phone when Mitchell Cooling and Heating customers call in asking for help.
Johnston joined the Mitchell team during her senior year at Dacula High School, back in 1996. As part of a work-based learning program, she would spend half her day at school, then half in the Mitchell “office.” At the time, the whole operation was run from a single, long desk with one computer and two phones, all of which she shared with Kathy Mitchell and Lindy Strickland.
“We were literally elbow to elbow,” says Johnston. “We worked hard and we laughed, and we just had fun.”
In the early days, Johnston did a lot of filling out paperwork, filing, and making copies. “Everything was on paper, so everything took longer,” she says. “The copier was my best friend.”
As the company grew, so did Johnston’s responsibilities. In time, she took charge of answering customer calls, dispatching technicians, and coordinating the daily service schedule. While additional team members now take some of the customer calls, you’ll still often hear her voice when you call in. Some long-time customers even ask for her by name.
People You Know
Though raised in Lawrenceville, Georgia, Johnston went to Dacula for school, church, and softball practice. “It was a very small town when we were younger,” she says. “Everybody knew everybody. Until a few years ago, just about everybody who worked here, we knew them or knew their family.” (Mitchell is now headquartered in neighboring Auburn, Georgia.)
It’s part of why she has stayed so long at Mitchell. “I get along with everyone,” she says, “I’m paid well, and they treat me well. And when it comes down to it, they know me. We’ve been through the good, the bad, and the ugly together. There’s a lot of benefit to really knowing the people you work with.”
She says that many of Mitchell’s customers feel the same way.
“They like that it’s the same people when they call, no matter how long it’s been,” she says. “They know they’re not just another customer to us.”
Rearranging the World to Make It Work
“I do the best I can for every customer, every time,” Johnston says. “Not just because they’re someone special. Not because they’re so-and-so’s mother. Every customer who needs help is someone who needs help, and I do everything possible for them. I will rearrange the world to make it work.”
After 25 years at Mitchell, she and Lindy Strickland can even troubleshoot some problems over the phone, saving customers a service call by talking them through something simple like flipping a breaker switch back on.
“We don’t try to charge them for things they don’t need,” she says. “We’re not constantly pushing something new on them. We’re honest, and we do what we say we’re going to do.”
Family and Fun Adventures
Johnston and her husband have three children, two now grown, married, and out of the house. Because of the pandemic, it has been over a year since she last saw her son, who is in the Army and currently based in Alaska. She hopes she’ll be able to visit him soon. Her daughter lives close by, so they’re able to visit her more often. Johnston’s youngest is still at home and is enjoying time as the only child in the house.
Johnston and her husband are nevertheless content making the most of their time with family. “We enjoy being together, doing whatever comes up or just hanging out,” she says. “We may wake up Saturday morning and decide to go for a mountain hike, head to the lake, visit an antique store, or just take off for the day.” Sundays and some weeknights are taken up by church.
After years of marriage, they know each other well and have been through a lot together. Loving someone, trusting them, and knowing them well for so many years… What else could anyone want?
Is it time for your spring HVAC maintenance? Give April a call to schedule it or talk with anyone else in the office by calling 770-995-7585. You can also schedule service online.