Louis Bruno, 26, is a rising star in the air conditioning business – the Fort Myers High School graduate started his company three years ago with $27,000 in savings and now has 85 employees and more than 70 service vehicles on the road.

His latest venture: customizing Trane air conditioners to help them withstand the heat and humidity of the local climate.

On his start

I started as an AC helper with a small family-owned company out of Fort Myers and I trained with them for three months as a helper, learning the business, learning the equipment, the process, the procedures, the way the systems operated and after three months I was in the field performing maintenance.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

One thing that really sticks with me today, and I wake up thinking and I go to sleep thinking it, is Mark Cuban saying you have to work 24 hours a day like somebody’s trying to take it from you.

 

Louis Bruno speaks to financing specialist Leslie Bosque at Bruno Air Conditioning in Bonita Springs on Thursday. (Photo: Sarah Coward/The News-Press)

What drives you

I’m hypercompetitive by nature. I want, I have this extreme will and desire to make everything better. No matter how good anything is. I want everything to be better from the customer experience to the way the company runs to how efficient we operate.

On failure

Failure naturally resembles, or is inferred, that it’s a bad thing. I accepted early on that I’m going to fail and for us to do what we’re going to do we’re going to fail a lot and we’re going to fail every day. And so every no ends up being, we take it as, every no ends up being one step closer to a yes.

Who has been your biggest influence?

The biggest influence in my life has probably been my mom. My parents split up at a young age and my mom literally did whatever it took to give my two sisters and I a better life. And as I look back at life now, what she did, and what she went through, and what she did for us, and how she provided, I get a lot of motivation because she ended up being a business owner once life settled down and I was in high school. But those stages from 3 or 4 years old to 15, she was running our own little family as a business and she did whatever it took and I haven’t given her enough credit.

On lessons learned

Early on we got “no” all the time. Everything we asked for, everything we wanted to do. Whether it was partnership, whether it was distributors, whether it was consumer financing companies, we continued to get the word no. The lesson I learned from it is never to accept no because what was really happening, when someone would tell us no, we’d re-frame the question,.we would re-frame the opportunity, we’d push harder. And because we weren’t accepting no, we started get a lot of yeses. And as I look back on it now and I look into the future, I firmly believe anything’s possible if you don’t take no as an answer or an end result. It just becomes a speed bump. It’s a culture of not accepting no.

ABOUT

  • Name: Louis Bruno
  • Age: 26
  • Occupation: founder and owner of Bruno Air Conditioning
  • Education: Graduate of Fort Myers High School
  • Did you know? Bruno was a star pitcher on the Fort Myers High School baseball team.