I first met Nigel Palmer from PACAIR last September on a manufacturer’s site visit in France. They have an interesting business. I met them at their Hemel Hempstead office in January to learn more about it.
Nigel started the air conditioning and heat pump solutions business 11 years ago. They work closely with Mitsubishi Electric, LG and Toshiba and cover ‘anywhere up to Newcastle’ in the UK.
Making Friends and Influencing People
In a competitive market, Nigel put the success of the business down to the time PACAIR has invested in developing relationships with their consultant and installer customers.
“We are not after lots of enquiries from new customers,” said Nigel. “Our business growth comes through our reputation. We are very confident with, and close to, a tight knit group of customers. New customers are important for us, but we are careful about who we work with.”
To do this, the team has been looking at different suppliers. The ‘new kid on the block’ for PACAIR is working with LG. When talking with Nigel in France, it was clear that LG had made a positive impression on them.
“LG has really got their act together, recently,” stated Nigel. “They have sorted out their warranty support, which makes a massive difference to our customers. The LG support is what finally made our minds up about partnering with them.”
“Consultants can’t be experts on everything,” said Nigel. “They rely on the specialist knowledge of their suppliers. Our customers have come to rely on us for information.”
“Contractors have less time to deal with details than consultants,” said Nigel. “We help with detailed support and act like a design house for them.”
For example, if someone asks for a quote for a refrigerant and the person or company is not ‘F Gas certified’, PACAIR politely turns them down. This meticulous attention to detail builds confidence in their customers; customers know that they are dealing with an honest, loyal supplier that works in partnership with them. As a result, their high installation standards helps to win projects.
Power from the People
Richard Parvin is the company’s technical manager who was with Toshiba for seven years before joining the business. As Nigel put it, “He really does ‘think outside of the box’ when it comes to technical challenges.”
Robin Clark is the sakes director who has been in the industry for over 20 years with experience from working with Toshiba and HRP. Jonathan Davies, work for Robin supporting customers.
The operations manager, Paul Cross, was formerly Mitsubishi Electric’s logistics manager, as well as a spell with AMP. Stuart Law runs, and part owns, the sales operation from the office in the North West, which has been a great success. Stuart is a “very technical salesman” and was a Mitsubishi Electric specification manager before coming to PACAIR.
The company has invested in a new quotation system too, which is accessible for the sales team on their tablet PCs. This mean they can provide quotes for their customers almost immediately on-site. This responsiveness helps their time-poor customers win business too.
Nigel Palmer’s philosophy of hiring great people and creating a ‘team atmosphere’ runs throughout the business. Besides, it is more than just how he works with employees and customers.
Every year, the business takes employees, customers (who are usually competitors) and their families away to a number of events. At Christmas, PACAIR took his team and their spouses to a hotel in Mayfair for a treat.
As Nigel said, “When we have a good year, we like to make sure everyone benefits from it.”
“It’s surprising to see how our customers talk to each other on the Family Days, despite being competitors,” added Nigel.
More space to think
PACAIR, however, is not complacent. Nigel is planning to grow his business by developing a new ‘technical area’ and workbenches in the newly purchased business unit next door.
“We decided it was time to turn up the level of professionalism in the company,” said Nigel. “The expanded office space will help with demonstrating and testing solutions with customers. Also, we need more room for the team to keep providing the levels of service they expect from us.”