Hot and cool solutions
Accent Air,a Liverpool based air conditioning and heat pump manufacturing company, was founded in 1993 and acquired by Rheem Australia in 2007. Over the years, the company has established a reputation for designing and producing custom built air-conditioning systems and heat pumps to suit the individual needs of customers. Their manufacturing facility is located in New South Wales,and their products are sold through distributors across the country.
Since Rheempurchased the family run company, General Manager Richard McBurney and staff have put in a lot of work to help Accent Air adapt to a more corporate setting while still maintaining a small business culture. Originally, Accent Air had been moulded around the dedicated vision of the previous owner, who actually is still working in for the company. Now, the challenge is to keep that family run mentalitywhile shifting to a more corporate, efficient and systematic way of conducting business.
According to McBurney, that evolution has not always been easy, but it has resulted in the pathway towards a more successful organisation.
Accent Air services both the domestic and commercial sectors. Their customer base is wide-spread and includes individual houses, apartment blocks, hotels and resorts, nursing homes and hospitals, supermarkets, arenas and a lot more. Their products vary to suit the client, and are comprised of only premium components.
In recent years, Accent Air’s focus has shifted to the commercial sector, where there is more of a need to custom build a unit to meet the specific needs of a project – which is something the team at Accent Air excels at. By working in that sector, they have less need to compete with the low cost of imported product, or to contend with the rising strength of the Australian dollar.
Besides manufacturing air conditioners, Accent Air also produces heat pumps which use air conditioning technology to heat water as opposed to heating/cooling air. The majority of the time,their heat pumps are used for pool heating, but on a commercial level they can also be used for factories, hotels and aquatic centres –in Australia and abroad. Currently, roughly 15 per cent of the company’s heat pumps are exported to South East Asia, and this number is expected to grow in the future.
McBurneysays that what sets Accent Air apart in the industry is their dedication to customersand understanding of clients. The company’s products are Australian designed. There is a strong emphasis on local research and development, and all products are customised to meet the needs of the project. The company also has a long standing reputation of reliability and quality which has resonated with their clients for years.
When it comes to those clients, Accent Air tries to maintain a personal touch – something they did when the company was family run, and something they have worked hard to keep doing andeven improve on. McBurney says that the best strategy to keep clients happy is to try and understand their needs, which is always a learning process.
The company’s customer focus comes from above as well. Rheem’s parent company is Paloma Industries, a world leader in instantaneous hot water systems. Paloma’s world-wide philosophy is “Customer First” – and they’ve brought that ethos to Accent Air.
Accent Air also maintainsstrong relationships internally. Once again, the company started off as a family-run, and the corporate culture has always reflected that. Since coming aboard in 2010, McBurneyhas tried to maintain the attitude and commitment of a family business environment. Though the corporate shift has led to procedural additions such as team meetings, the company has still maintained open lines of communication for the employees to voice their ideas and participate in the direction of the company.
Accent Air’s commitment to fostering a positive corporate culture has helped them to maintain a reliable team with an abundance of skill and knowledge – which is critical to keeping the business thriving. According to McBurney, everyone in the company – from management on down – shares the goal of being best in class, and they constantly push the boundaries of product design in order to achieve that.
The company boasts even stronger relationships with their supply chain. As a manufacturer, they need to have those strong ties because many of the components that they buy – such as the compressors, coils, heat exchangers and fans – are the main components of the unit. To ensure that the quality of these components meets the standards of the company, the relationship with the supplier has to be close and long standing. Many of the supplier relationships go back to when the company was still privately owned.
Cheap, imported product is not the only thing that poses a challenge to Accent Air. The company is also currently contending with the rising price of refrigerants due to the new carbon tax. This has caused the price of refrigerants to grow exponentially, significantly increasing the price of air conditioners,.
Despite these challenges, Accent Air’s unique selling point is their ability to customize and meet customer’s orders in quick and efficient manner. Over the years, that ability has earned them an unrivalled reputation for being reliable. That reputation has kept their customer base strong, loyal and growing.
The future goals of the company are to continue to pursue that growth, while adapting to the difficult times in the market. That will mean continuing to provide quality custom heating and cooling solutions in an efficient way. It will also mean keeping up with the standards of the industry – the company was recently ISO 9000 certified, which is a good indicator of their willingness to do just that. Their products currently meet the toughest standards of efficiency as well. Moving forward, McBurney says they will strive to ensure that’s always the case.
In general,McBurney states the company is looking to continue to produce high quality products, invest in local research and design, and maintain their reputation of consistency and superiority. He predicts that their vision – when combined with their corporate backing –will enable Accent Air to become one of the leading air conditioner manufacturers in their region.