Paul McRoberts’ father, Earle McRoberts, strongly encouraged his sons to enter the trades. Beginning in ninth grade, Paul McRoberts took many trade courses and chose plumbing as his major. In 1984, at the age of 31, he started Paul McRoberts Plumbing & Heating, which included new residential construction installations and residential service. The heating side included water heating, baseboard heating and boilers.
In 1992, McRoberts was introduced to radiant under-floor heating, and was very interested in the concept and the way it worked. As his contracting company changed, the name changed, too. In 2000, iFH Designs and Installations was born.
“We wanted to let our clients know we were in the in-floor heating business,” he says. “In my mind, floor heat or hydronic heating will become the heating system of the future. With electric floor heat, once the electricity stops running, it does not take long for the wire to cool down. However, with a hydronic hot water loop, the warm water in that loop still lets heat out and for a longer period of time.”
Based in the rural area of southwestern Ontario, iFH covers a large area. Technicians drive out about an hour in each direction. The company is a member of PHCC in Kitchener, the Canadian Hydronics Council, the Canadian Plumbing and Heating Association, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“We service what we sell but we do all areas — including new construction in custom homes, commercial and agriculture — which cover plumbing, boilers, floor heating and gas work,” McRoberts says.
Now at age 62, McRoberts employs five people and also takes on local high school co-op students to show them plumbing and the “wet” side of heating. He has three completely outfitted trucks — a 2004 Dodge Sprinter, a 2006 Toyota Tundra and a 2015 Dodge ProMaster — and an all-aluminum, dual-axle 2015 tour trailer custom-made by Bremar with barn doors on the back and a side door. The trailer measures 22 ft. by 8 ft. by 8 ft.
“Our favorite is the ProMaster and trailer combo (pictured),” McRoberts says. “The ProMaster is designed with a diesel four-cylinder engine, an average 800 km/tank, lots of cargo area and height to stand up in. The trailer is completely insulated and wired for hydro and lights.”
McRoberts decided to wrap his trucks to show everyone exactly what his company does. “Branding is the biggest thing in business — to have people think of you when the radiant floor heat idea comes into their minds or conversations is important,” he says. “We also are starting a new campaign with the London Transit company and putting a couple of wraps on the back of its buses.”
Each wrap is slightly different, but each has the iFH logo, website and slogan, “Kiss your cold feet goodbye.” All the vehicles were done by Jason Wilds of Wilds Everywear Graphics in Exeter, Ontario. iFH also advertises through its own live radio show once a month and various home shows, where it features a complete 200-sq.-ft. working floor-heating model. Sales back in 2000 were in the $40,000 area. Since radio and other promotions, iFH’s sales have increased 10 times.
“I am finding that people need to be educated to understand the workings of hot water heating,” McRoberts adds. “This is all we had before forced-air came in. If you go back and check the breathing problems that people have, they would all go back to when forced-air was introduced. I call hydronic heating a healthy heat.”