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Seven Decades of Excellence and Counting

The year is 1951. Patti Page's "Tennessee Waltz" starts the year off as the No. 1 single on the Billboard Chart. President Truman resides in the White House. The country is in the midst of the Korean War. A Streetcar Named Desire is a box office smash. Catcher in the Rye is published, and I Love Lucy makes its television debut. Here in Kansas, the Great Flood of 1951 reaches its highest point in Northeast Kansas, culminating in the greatest flood damage to date in the Midwestern United States. Oh, and on the heels of this natural disaster, Homer McElroy opens his new heating, cooling, and refrigeration business.

A lot has changed in almost 73 years, but the principles Homer founded his company on have remained the same. “My grandfather worked for a contractor who asked him to do something unethical,” Paula Beal, McElroy Mechanical, Plumbing, Heating & Air co-owner said. “He couldn’t do it and keep his conscience clean, so he decided to start his own company and run it how he wanted to run it.” Today, McElroy’s is still going strong with roughly 200 employees and McElroy descendants still at the helm.

“My grandfather was very mechanically minded, but he understood people too. He had this ‘bottom-up’ philosophy,” Paula shared. “You had to work your way up through the company from the lowest positions.” Paula’s father, Jerry McElroy, took the reins in 1973. He started working for the company in junior high school as a janitor. After studying accounting at Washburn University, Jerry continued working for his father and eventually became president. With his business sense, he was responsible for greatly expanding the company adding plumbing, pipefitting, and ductwork fabrication over the years.

The family and the business melded seamlessly for Paula Beal. “While other girls played with dolls, I had a drafting table in the basement. My father bought me colored pencils and would bring me blueprints of new jobs to do takeoffs,” Paula explained. “I would color code the copper pipe, PVC pipe, and fittings, measure out the linear feet of pipe, determine quantities of parts, and give him the information so he could determine a bid price. I loved being involved.”

Today, Paula and her husband Dan Beal run the day-to-day operations at McElroy’s. With his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and his master's in business, Dan has modernized the business and improved efficiencies while continuing to support their five core values (have a positive attitude, be trustworthy, be a problem solver, provide craftsmanship, support the community). To enhance the company culture, every year the employees vote for one of their coworkers who best personifies the company values. That employee wins the Integrity Award and the company donates to the charity of their choice in their name. 

When asked about the uncommon success of the company, Dan defers to the employees. “We treat our employees like family,” he said. “They are our greatest asset. They know our core values and believe in them like we do. We want them to take pride in the company and know they are valued.”

“We’ve been very, very blessed with outstanding employees,” Paula reiterated. “With 200 employees, it may not look like the small family business it started out as, but we want it to still feel like a family business. A family is a little world created by love and we’d like to expand that world to include our employees and the entire Topeka community.”

Today, McElroy’s provides a wide array of services from residential HVAC service & installation to large-scale industrial commercial projects. Guided by the values established by Homer and Jerry, McElroy’s serves clients with exceptional craftsmanship, unmatched customer service, and money-saving expertise. With two of Homer’s grandchildren and three great-grandchildren coming up through the ranks, it looks like the McElroy legacy will remain in capable hands and the company will continue to serve the Topeka community for decades to come.

To learn more about this legendary Topeka company, visit

  • Dan and Paula Beal
  • Parker Beal, Paula Beal, Dan Beal, Chad Hunsicker, Brit Hunsicker, Greg Hunsicker
  • Homer McElroy
  • Homer McElroy