PHOTO PROVIDED Victor Camara recently started a Ductz franchise to serve the Stillwater and Edmond areas.

In the past year, thousands have flocked to the state’s unemployment office after being laid off from their jobs in the midst of an economic crisis.

Victor Camara, a Stillwater resident, however, used his misfortune as an opportunity to open his own business. He opened Ductz, a HVAC system and duct cleaning franchise, to serve the Stillwater and Edmond areas.

“Cleaning the main components restores it to its original functionality,” he said. “By restoring your system to what it originally was will allow you to achieve some energy savings. As dirt accumulates on the system, the system works harder to keep your house cool.”

Camara said his background and experience in mechanical engineering and program management in the automotive and marine industries allowed him to gain control of his finances through the stability of starting his own business.

His passion in how mechanical things work began when he was just a little boy.

“I was the kid that pulled apart the TV and radio and tried to fix the bicycle,” Camara said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from a university in Mexico, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in engineering and technology management from Oklahoma State University.

Camara said he chose to open Ductz because of its national presence with more than 160 franchises. He said while he does have competitors in the area, his franchise is recognized as an Energy Star partner and follows the recommended guidelines by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. Camara also completed the air cleaning specialist certification.

“It helps us to do the service right the first time,” Camara said. “We make sure we touch every component on the system.”

He said he recommends that air ducts be inspected once a year. Camara said Ductz inspections usually are free and cleaning will not be recommended unless necessary. He said the frequency of the cleaning of an air duct is dependent on the outside environment, which changes with the seasons and years, pets and the quality of the system’s filtration.

“It’s like changing your oil,” he said. “You know if you don’t change it the engine will fail.”

Ductz has a national service team that provides rapid response services to natural and man-made catastrophes, Camara said. For example, Ductz franchise owners went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help get air conditioning and heating units back up and running.

“We will come to participate according to availability and proximity,” Camara said.

He said they also will volunteer time to help with the systems in Habitat for Humanity homes.

FOR MORE information, call 372-2005.

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