On January 24, 2005, HVACMall.com boasted on its home page that it had nearly “11.7+ million [page views] per year from over 212,000 [monthly] visitors”. By December of 2006, the homepage noted: “We are sorry, but the HVACMALL.com is currently closed for business.”
What happened in that two year period? Why would a site receiving nearly 12 million page views per year discontinue its operation entirely? We explore the history of HVACMall.com to find out.
The History of HVACMall.com
HVACMall.com was the brainchild of Environmental Support Solutions, Inc. (ESS), a company that offered a complete line of products and services for the planning, evaluation, execution, and management of environmental programs. ESS was founded in 1993 in Englewood, Colorado, and they launched HVACMall.com in 1996.
Between 1996 and 1997, HVACMall.com provided information on to a variety of topics such as refrigerant management (training and products), indoor air quality (services and hazardous materials), environmental news, environmental servers, and HVAC servers. While the web address of HVACMall.com originally lead to a homepage for Environmental Support Solutions, a separate section of the site titled “HVAC Mall” offered early versions of the information available in later iterations of this Internet destination.
The HVAC Mall portion of the ESS website made resources available for people looking for heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration products and services. Users could find information about manufacturers, distributors, representatives, contractors, consultants, associations, and software developers who worked in the HVAC/R industry. Also available to users were industry forums that included sections for industry news, classifieds, resources, government, and advertising.
By late 1998, the HVACMall.com homepage was entirely dedicated to the forums and resources available on a subpage of the former ESS website. At this time, it stated on the bottom of the new homepage, “The HVACMALL is brought to you by Environmental Support Solutions,” however no other mention of the company is made. The new 1998 site offered a search engine for HVAC topics, services, companies, and products. Site visitors could also scrolling through listings for products, companies, services, industry resources (news, event, glossary, pictures, and chat), and classifieds. According to the tagline at the top of the newly designed site, “The HVACMALL(SM) is the internet HVAC/R Directory, Index, & Resource for the consumer, commercial, and industrial Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration market. Find all kinds of information from product and contract providers who service the HVAC/R industry”.
With over 28,000 pages of HVAC/R content as stated on the About Us page, the site owners stated, “HVACMALL.com is the oldest, largest, and #1 rated HVAC/R specific search engine and industry portal web site serving the entire HVAC/R community (end-users & industry people) with a complete world wide service area coverage, individually targeting localized cities to full international audiences, and in business since 1995.”
This portion of the site also summarized their services as:
- “HVACMALL.com connects buyers with sellers and end-users with service providers in one common marketplace.
- Our HVAC/R content and information spans all major HVAC/R market segments (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, mobile, and marine).
- Our audience of motivated viewers spans all types of visitors including end-user individuals & companies, and HVAC/R industry people & businesses.
- Attracting buyers and providers of both products and services, our visitors are actively SEEKING AND FINDING specific companies, products, services, and HVAC/R industry information on our web site.
HVACMALL.com feeds our Company Listing advertising clients their core customers based on each and everything they offer (product or service) and specifically ONLY their highly targeted localized customers no matter what their service territory (local, regional, national, or international.)”
Specifically, the HVACMall.com website included the following sections:
- Industry Events Calendar
- News & Articles
- Jobs Available
- Jobs Wanted (same subsections as the Job Available section of the site)
- Classified Ads
- Companies (over 12,000 organizations listed, users could search by alphabetical listings or location listings)
- Products (over 2,800 product titles, users could search by alphabetical listings)
- Services (over 1,300 service titles, users could search by alphabetical listings)
- Misc Resources
- Chat & Forums
If the claim on their About Us page is true, in late 1990s to the mid 2000s HVACMall.com was the top destination online for everything related to the HVAC/R industry. So why did this website shut down operation in 2006?
What We Know
According to information provided by a WHOIS search on the ICANN website, HVACMall.com is registered to Internet Paradigm Communications in Phoenix, Arizona. The search also reveals a creation date for HVACMall.com of April 12, 1999, even though the Archive.org shows that this site was up and running in 1996. As mentioned earlier, the HVACMall.com website underwent major changes in 1998, which is the first time the Internet Paradigm Communications name is seen listed on the bottom of the home page.
Today when you enter HVACMall.com into your address bar, HVAC-Mall.com is suggested. On this site, you’ll find a Coming Soon message along with ads for services offered by Internet Paradigm Solutions, which also owns the HVAC-Mall.com domain. HVAC-Mall.com was first registered to Iulian Arhire of Dania Beach, Florida on December 11, 2007, at least a full year after HVACMall.com went dark. Arhire owned the HVAC-Mall.com domain until June 24, 2016, when Internet Paradigm Communications took control of it.
So What Happened?
The early 2000s saw Google’s search engine gaining massive popularity among Internet users. While it’s impossible to state with certainty if this was a cause for HVACMall.com going out of business, it might indicate a major threat the HVAC/R site was experiencing. Major search engines were edging industry-specific ones and offering users a one-stop shop for looking for anything related to any topic.
With no response from Iulian Arhire or Internet Paradigm Communication, and no available contact information for Environmental Support Solutions, Inc., the true story behind the rise and fall of HVACMall.com may never be revealed.