Southern Refrigeration Corporation is a wholesale distributor of heating, refrigeration and air conditioning products and supplies located in Newport News. The company takes pride in helping Virginians with their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) needs. Originally established in 1947 in Roanoke, Virginia, Southern Refrigeration eventually expanded to 10 other stores in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Newport News location, which opened in 2020, is the eleventh.
John Jernigan, branch manager of the newest location in the Oyster Point area, enjoys his line of work because of the people with whom he works. He attributes the corporation’s continued legacy in the community and beyond to its status as an employee-owned company. “That’s really the bottom line of how we have enjoyed such success,” he says. “Management has hired people who are invested in the company.”
Across all 11 locations, the company uses about 75 skilled employees. At the Newport News location, there are four, making the business a closely knit operation. Jernigan says since there is a limited number of employees, each must be trained in all avenues of services offered, becoming specialists in various areas. The Newport News location services the Virginia Peninsula as well as the Southside.
About 60 percent of Southern Refrigeration’s business involves HVAC operations, which includes ice machines and boilers. It also offers a variety of refrigeration products. “Sometimes we get specialty requests from military bases, which can present oddities,” Jernigan says. These oddities often include the need to replace specific pumps and “parts that break down on older equipment,” Jernigan says.
Eric Taylor, at Benchmark Heating and Cooling in Hampton and Newport News, is a valued customer of Southern Refrigeration. “[Southern Refrigeration is] fast, reliable with great customer service. John is great to work with,” he says of Jernigan.
Jernigan is an Air Force veteran with 21 years of service. After working for Ferguson Enterprises and as a contractor for 13 years, an opportunity at Southern Refrigeration attracted him and in February 2020 he joined the business.
“Everyone here is helpful, from the warehouse person to the accounting person,” says Jernigan. “Our people are friendly and bend over backwards to get the job done, especially at this new location.” Jernigan says he believes the Newport News location “hit the ground running” after being open for a little over a year. His diverse career background has given him various skills that assist him with his branch management responsibilities, such as leading a team.
Jernigan has been married for 38 years. He and his wife have two adult daughters and four grandsons. “My time out of work is spent with them,” Jernigan says with a smile. “Family is my focus.” In addition to his family, he enjoys golf and watching NASCAR.
Jernigan says Southern Refrigeration Corporation is “a wonderful company to work for,” especially “being on the distributor side, with the way the company was founded. Customer service is our hallmark and I’m glad to be part of the company.”
TO THE POINT:
Southern Refrigeration Corporation
Address: 809 City Center Blvd.,
Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: John Jernigan, branch manager
Business: HVAC, wholesale distributor