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Access Inc. celebrates three decades in business

Neenah-based company provides the 'heart and lungs of a facility'

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July 25, 2023

NEENAH – Seth Heeter, vice president of critical support for Access Inc., said for the past 30 years the company has provided the “heart and lungs of facilities.”

And if Seth and his cousin Drew (who serves as vice president of HVAC sales) have anything to say about it, the company – which is located at 844 Ehlers Rd. in Neenah – will be doing it for another three decades and beyond.

“The IT companies help provide the brains,” Seth said. “They provide the servers, switches and structures in which the data is stored.”

Access, Inc., he said, supports all of that infrastructure to keep it going.

“I always tell people, ‘If you had a magic hammer and could smash every piece of equipment we had in Northeast Wisconsin and the world – we do play on a global scale as well – everything would shut down,’” he said. “We do our part to keep everything going.”

Access, a provider of performance-driven solutions for its critical power, cooling and monitoring systems and commercial HVAC clients throughout Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is celebrating 30 years in business – a milestone the Heeter cousins said they take very seriously.

More on what Access does
Seth said the role Access plays in the industry is “crucial to a company’s success.”

“In our business, if someone has a downed unit, it could cost them $1 million an hour if the data center can’t get back up promptly,” he said. “It’s important we keep some of those hot-item parts available and we’re able to get parts turned around quickly for our contractor community so they can get the end-users back online.”

Access has two different sides to the business.

“We have commercial/industrial HVAC and the critical support side of the business,” Seth said. “When you look at the critical support side, that’s supporting all of the critical infrastructure so businesses can function.”

Even in the event of a power outage, Seth said Access makes sure facilities are protected from a power and cooling standpoint and makes sure their data is always up and accessible.

“For example, a hospital can’t take a power outage at all – what we do helps them stay afloat,” he said.

Drew said Access doesn’t manufacture HVAC equipment like furnaces and air conditioning units, but are rather a manufacturer’s representative.”

“We have territorial agreements with the manufacturers found on our website, and we’re the sales arm for those manufacturers,” he said. “Instead of them selling direct, they come to Access because we’ve got the expertise and talented sales team to go out and find the right solution for their products.”

Seth said about 50% of the lines on the company’s website are “exclusive to our territory.”

“If something ships into our territory that was engineered and sold outside of it, we are still relied on to make sure once it’s on-site, it’s installed properly and the engineering was done correctly – we’re here to send our techs out if something needs tweaking,” he said.

Additionally, Seth said the contractors they work with are important to the Access team.

“They are the ones doing the install,” he said. “Our service team’s job is to fix any problems that might arise.”

All in the family
A quick visit to Access Inc.’s website (, will show that four different Heeters are involved with the company.

In addition to Drew and Seth, Lee (president) and John (vice president) are also involved – which are Drew and Seth’s fathers respectively.

“Our dads founded the company,” Drew said. “Lee is my dad, and John is Seth’s dad. They are working on slowly transitioning into retirement.”

Seth said Lee and John both worked at Colonna-San Droni out of Milwaukee in the 1980s.

“They were entrepreneurial in nature,” he said. “They chatted with the company they were working for and bought a portion – the territory up here – of the business in 1993. Access mainly serves areas north of Fond du Lac, east of Wausau and into the U.P. We are also expanding into other areas of the state.”

Drew started with Access in 2016.

“I went to school for something different,” he said. “I did a slightly different environmental engineering career for about six years while living in Milwaukee. When my wife had our oldest daughter – I was traveling a lot at the time – we thought it was a good time for me to get involved in the family business.”

For Seth, who started with the company in 2015, it was also an unconventional path.

“Like Drew, I also went to school for something different,” he said. “I was guiding wildlife tours and teaching photography in Wyoming. I worked for one of the premier wildlife companies in Jackson Hole, and because of that, we had a lot of high-profile, business-minded individuals I’d take on these tours. I’d be with them for half a day up to four days – entertaining and educating them about the Tetons and Yellowstone (National Park). On one of the tours, I met a guy who had a successful business.”

Seth said the conversation with the gentleman got him thinking about his family’s business more than 1,300 miles away in the Fox Valley.

“This guy was bummed that his son had no interest in working for the family business,” he said.

“I chatted with him for a while, and by the end of the ride, I said to myself, ‘I should chat with my dad and see if there’s any opportunity with Access.”

Drew said the plan is for him and Seth “to take over from our dads.”

“Not quite sure when that will happen, but maybe within the next nine months to a year,” Drew said.

Green future
Like many businesses, Drew said Access sees a “green future.”

“The green initiative, the carbon-neutral push, especially for a lot of larger companies – they want to consume as little fossil fuels as possible and reduce their carbon footprint,” he said. “I think we’ll see that trend continue. We’re seeing on the front end of projects during design that there’s a big push to find more energy-efficient solutions.”

Drew said things have “definitely changed with doing things right” in terms of reducing a company’s carbon footprint.

“In the past, projects might have looked to be cheap and find the lowest, first cost,” he said. “Now, they’re evaluating the life cycle cost of the project and the energy consumption once the equipment is installed. That’s been a big shift during the last five years – people are more conscious of their energy consumption when designing projects.”

Drew said some companies are using “waste heat” in one part of a building to heat another.

“Say you have a conference room full of people and it creates a heat load,” he said. “There’s technology to transfer that heat through the air through refrigerant or water then to redistribute that to heat other parts of the building in winter. That technology is growing and getting better – to the point where fossil fuel consumption to heat a building will be a thing of the past at some point – probably sooner rather than later.”

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