History | General Heating and Air Conditioning

A History of Note

GHAC_history_early_1From the Beginning

General Heating and Air Conditioning originated as a heating service company for Madison in the late 1940’s. Local fire fighters, organized by Ralph Triggs, fixed oil furnaces during their spare time between shifts, but the advent of home air conditioning and an increase in service work created several problems for the small company. At last, a business partner was brought in for full time management, and the company was incorporated and residential air conditioning installation and service was added to their repertoire. The business partner, Charlie Kruse, became president of the company in 1963, adding new construction to the list of services, buying a sheet metal shop in 1971, and moving the company to a small metal building on Perry Street.

History: 1990s

Thirty years later, in 1993 when Charlie retired, significant changes had occurred in the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning industry. General had become a significant part of the construction industry in Madison and maintained its service origins. At this time, Ashok (Willie) Chopra, a project manager for General, became the new president. Willie and Charlie had been working closely with a local electrical and piping company and in 1994, Hooper Corporation bought General as a wholly owned subsidiary.

 Since 1994, General has grown and expanded its services. The shop and office on Perry Street has become a mini campus with an 18,000 square foot fabrication facility, contract department warehouse, service and parts warehouse, service department offices, fleet maintenance shop, and a new office headquarters. In addition to our current location, we share a training and warehouse/fabrication facility with Hooper Corporation on the east side of Madison.


In 2008, General went through another period of change. As a growing design build mechanical contractor in Madison, General was outgrowing its current office space. Decisions were made to design and construct a new office headquarters on the current campus. The building was completed and occupied in the fall of 2009, just ahead of Willie’s retirement at the end of the year. General’s new president, Dave Orr, started with the company in 1982 and took part in the many changes occurring with the company and the industry. Some of the challenges Dave faced as president were the ever changing sustainability issues, indoor air quality standards, codes, and regulations, and new developing technologies in design, engineering, installation and service. 

All of these challenges and many more were involved when the Company served a unique role as owner, mechanical engineer/designer, mechanical contractor, commissioning agent, occupant, and facilities manager for their new headquarters building. The goals set for the 34,000 square foot office building were straight forward: design a building that meets current and future office needs, re-invests in the current location and community, and demonstrates the company’s services and capabilities.

In 2015, Dave Orr assumed the role of president at our parent company, Hooper Corporation, and Brad Werlein was chosen as the fourth president of GHAC. With nearly 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry, Brad will be an invaluable asset as the leader of our company. Brad earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and spent the first half of his career designing HVAC systems. The latter half was then focused more broadly on design, estimating, contract negotiations, and overall business operations. As president, Brad will continue to focus on business operations for both our commercial and residential HVAC projects.