Toshiba and CIAT distributor Cool Designs (CDL) reports its best-ever start to a year, with air conditioning sales up over 50% in the year to April. The company has announced plans to relocate its headquarters to larger premises in the North East and expand operations nationally.
The new site will have a trade shop for accessories and service items, a fully-equipped training centre, and an additional 11,000sq ft warehouse to provide space for stock. It is also looking to recruit additional staff to cater for planned growth over the coming year.
Darrel Birkett, CDL Managing Director, said: “Toshiba has been the main growth area, however we have also seen significant expansion following the addition of CIAT. The chiller side in particular has opened up new opportunities for us, both with existing customers and new customers specialising in this area.
“We see further opportunities following Toshiba’s introduction of R32 equipment, which has been timed perfectly to address the emerging need in the market.”
Sales in Scotland have been boosted by the presence of its Glasgow office and additional sales resource, however it currently doesn’t have a branch in the South of England. “As business develops, this would be the next logical step to ensure continuity of our service levels to this important area,” said Birkett.
Installer training has been a priority for the company since it began. To date this year, it has trained more than 150 engineers at its own training facilities, and CDL is now rolling out the online training academy recently introduced by Toshiba, as a way of enabling engineers to update their skills at a time to suit them, and as an adjunct to classroom-based training.
The company is also developing a new suite of training videos aimed specifically at end user clients rather than engineers. This will give guidance on equipment selection and how to get the best out of air conditioning, with simple, clear explanations of how the technology works and is controlled.
The move to R32 provides a significant opportunity for suppliers with the right equipment and approach, believes Birkett: “We're taking a two-pronged approach to R32. First, and crucially, we are ensuring that contractors and consultants are equipped with the facts. There has been a lot of misunderstanding and uncertainty about R32, and we need to ensure people are as fully informed as possible, so they can make an informed decision. Secondly, we will be ensuring we have plenty of stock available in both R410A and R32 to provide choice for customers.”
To inform the trade, CDL is working with Toshiba to develop a CPD on R32 that will provide customers with a comprehensive briefing on the issue, covering safe handling and procedures.
Birkett said: “There is a feeling that R32 may not be the final solution in the ongoing refrigerants situation. However, it is possible that whatever happens the industry will have to get used to handling flammable refrigerants in the future. As a responsible supplier, we will be doing everything we can to educate and inform our customers, so they are fully equipped to deal with R32 and any new solutions coming on-stream.”