Three generations live up to Wilbur’s culture of quality

Not many six-year-olds understand the concept of quality, but Luke Welch does. And it shows in the level of his performance on a TV commercial shot last year for his grandfather’s company, Wilbur’s Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing.

“I really want to do a good job,” Luke said before filming began, and when the cameras started rolling, he did. (Click here to see Luke’s commercial.)

Michael Doonan, Luke’s uncle and the producer, director, writer, and editor of the commercial, said the youngster’s approach to his role as a pint-size protector of hearth and home only made sense.

“My dad – and my whole family – care about quality,” he explained. “It’s something that sets our business apart.”

The project came about through a video message Michael shot of his dad, Wilbur Doonan, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wilbur’s was granted essential worker status, and Dad wanted to get the word out that he was doing everything he could to keep both his employees and customers safe,” said Michael. “So we made a short video with him talking about the new protocols and what the company was doing to adhere to the CDC guidelines. After the video’s success, a friend suggested we do a commercial.”

Though Michael didn’t think much of the idea at the time, weeks later he had a dream from the point of view of a child. Some early images from the dream became the opening sequence for the commercial.

“I was new on the film scene here in Birmingham, having been away for 15 years, but l had the good fortune of meeting some folks who would lead me to finding my team,” he said. “After months of pre-production, we shot the entire commercial over the course of 12 hours. We all had a great experience shooting it, and I was proud of the level of talent and collaboration present. Birmingham is a great creative center in the South, and it’s only growing.”

The shoot, which took place in Trussville’s Cahaba Springs neighborhood, made for a long workday for a little boy, but according to his uncle, Luke was a trouper. And in the process, the two enjoyed some quality playtime together.

“I wore my own space helmet and carried around a ray gun, and we’d be shooting at each other in between takes and stuff like that, just to keep him focused and entertained,” said Michael. “He had a blast (excuse the pun)!”

While six years old is still a bit soon for Luke to be making any life decisions, his early work experience as an actor cum home protector puts him in good stead for a job in either field. But his family might have other ideas for his future.

“We would, of course, love to see him come and captain the ship here at Wilbur’s someday,” said Michael, “but for now, he’ll be the captain of his own imagination, playing and growing in worlds of his own making.”

Wilbur’s Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, founded by Wilbur Doonan in 1979, is a longtime member of the Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce.