Great Since 1978: The History of Bears Home Solutions

A fleet of five Bears Home Solutions HVAC service vans in a parking lot.

Bears Home Solutions has proudly been the region’s trusted heating and cooling professionals, serving Grand Forks, Fargo, Crookston, Hillsboro, and the surrounding communities since 1978.

But we are more than just a home heating and cooling business. As we’ve evolved, our company has expanded to offer a variety of solutions that keep your home safe, comfortable, and efficient year-round. These products and services include gas fireplaces, indoor air quality solutions, duct sealing, plumbing, and more.

With so many years of combined experience under our tool belts, Bears Home Solutions is proud of how far we’ve come as a company. In this blog, we want to share our history to give our customers a fuller understanding of how our team came to be among the top comfort specialists in the Red River Valley.

It all began when a couple named Dale and Louvain Boettner loaded up their belongings onto a cattle truck and headed north from southern Minnesota to a town called Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Back to the Beginning

When Dale and Louvain Boettner approached the border between Minnesota and North Dakota in late December 1960, the snow-covered prairie stretched out in front of them like a blank canvas.

Even though their car was one of the few driving north, the Boettners knew the Red River Valley was a promising location for a new chapter of their lives. At the time, Grand Forks was building a new Air Force base, and the couple wanted to be on the frontend of the community’s growth.

After they got settled, the Boettners worked with a friend to open a heating and cooling business called Air Controlled Heating, but eventually decided to start their own HVAC company called Custom Aire in 1978.

A vintage photo of an old Custom Aire office.

Once they were old enough, Dale and Louvain brought their sons Gary, Dan, Scott, and Randy Boettner on board to work in the warehouse and learn how to run the business, preparing them to potentially take ownership of Custom Aire someday.

Today, Custom Aire is a thriving employee-owned company that focuses on commercial HVAC services, with Scott Boettner serving as President and Randy Boettner as Vice President.

“Craftsmanship has always been at the core of what we do,” says Scott, who started working in the shop as a teenager and learned the meaning of this term from his father.

An old photo of Custom Aire and Bears Home Solutions founder, Dale Boettner, on the phone at his desk.

Currently, Custom Aire only focuses on commercial HVAC work, but for several decades after the Boettners founded the company, it also provided residential heating and cooling services. Demand was high in both sectors, leading to fast-paced growth that soon made the warehouse feel too small. In the early ’90s, the Boettner family decided it was time to expand.

Branching Out

1992 was a busy year for Scott and Randy Boettner. In addition to taking over the family business, the brothers also leased a building at 1318 12th Ave. S. in Grand Forks dedicated to the residential side of Custom Aire.

A brick building with a blue awning that has Custom Aire’s old red and white logo on it, as well as Bergstrom Electric, Inc.

After acquiring the building, they established Darin Gador, a dedicated employee and skilled HVAC technician who joined the Custom Aire team in 1985, as a partner of the residential division.

“He was working like he was already an owner through his loyalty, reliability, and trade knowledge,” Scott says. “He was exactly who we were looking for in a partner.”

A photo of Bears Home Solutions owner and general manager Darin Gador smiling at the camera while sitting on his desk in his office.

Over the next few years, the home heating and cooling side of Custom Aire continued to grow, despite the new office being flooded in 1997. Fortunately, the business quickly recovered and began to focus on exploring markets outside of Grand Forks and rebranding the residential division as a separate entity from Custom Aire.

In 2008, the owners officially established a legal identity for the residential business and became a franchise with Clockwork Home Services that provided training and marketing resources. This allowed the business to remain locally owned while offering competitive prices to their customers.

Now that the business had a new name, management increased its recruitment efforts to find professional technicians with a knack for customer service to add to the team.

“We enjoy hiring people with great personalities who are willing to learn,” Darin shares. “We have some of the best install teams across the entire country who take pride in their work. When they finish a furnace or AC replacement, it looks like a masterpiece.”

A male Bears Home Solutions heating and cooling technician removes the front panel of a Daikin furnace during an inspection

Eventually, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning outgrew Grand Forks and expanded to Fargo, Crookston, and Hillsboro. The company also incorporated other services like Aeroseal, fireplaces, and plumbing services through Ben Franklin to provide everything families need to keep their homes comfortable and efficient.

As time went on and our products and services expanded, the ownership team decided it was time for another rebrand, which brings us to the current company name: Bears Home Solutions.

Becoming Bears Home Solutions

For years, our company has been actively incorporating a variety of avenues to help our customers stay comfortable and healthy while saving money on energy costs. Although heating and cooling is a large part of this, we educate our customers on the importance of indoor air quality as well.

Because our company offers a long list of comfort solutions for the residential market, we knew we wanted “home” and “solutions” as part of our new name to emphasize that we do much more than heating and cooling.

But why “Bears”?

In addition to being a friendly mascot, “Bear” was also the nickname that co-workers gave to our own Darin Gador back in the day, and the rest is history.

“Beary the Bear as we know him today is much more patient than the nicknamed ‘Bear’ of the ’80s and ’90s when it came to barking out orders,” Darin quips with a smile.

Years ago, our company was only in Grand Forks, with a few service trucks and grand ambitions. Now, we operate throughout the Red River Valley with full install crews, service technicians, and an Aeroseal division. We only continue to grow, thanks to our loyal customers and hard-working staff.

Dale and Louvain Boettner could have moved anywhere, but they saw potential in this region and chose it as the location to create a legacy that is thriving today. It’s an honor for our company to be part of it.

A photo of Custom Aire and Bears Home Solutions founders Dale and Louvain Boettner at their son’s wedding in the early 1980s.