AirSource Directors (l to r): Dave Clayton, Alex Pinchbeck & Andrew Pinchbeck
I went to visit the Manchester-based company and met its managing director, Dave Clayton, to learn more about this growing heating, cooling and ventilation business.
By Will Hawkins, Editor of the ACR Journal
When you visit a company called 'AirSource
' in the heating and cooling industry, the immediate thought about what it does is heat pumps, as in air source heat pumps. Heat pumps are a big part of the solutions developed by AirSource, but the company works on a range of bespoke solutions to help its customers keep their employees comfortable.
AirSource operates in several sectors including schools, law courts and football stadiums, as well as office buildings. When Dave and his partners, Andrew and Alex Pinchbeck, started out in 2010, among them the team had a long history in the industry. Andrew focused on the engineering, Alex the sales and Dave managed the business, which matched their skills and experience.
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The team set out to differentiate themselves by providing the type of service many large companies find difficult to manage. They were doing what they had done before, namely designing and building air handling units. Being a small firm means you have more time to attend to your customers.
AirSource won their first order within a week of starting. To make the order into a reality, Dave hired three employees, all of whom were unemployed, trained them, and bought a second-hand punching machine to get them going. The new team put the solution together and had invoiced their first £40,000 within twelve weeks of starting up. AirSource outgrew its factory within 18 months, followed by another move into a 13,000 sq ft premises nearby.
Soon, the team realised there was a bigger demand for systems using heat pumps which competitors were not fulfilling. They were already making packaged units that used heat pumps, as well as air handling units. AirSource developed their production to meet the demand. As a result, Andrew, Alex and Dave invested in more into research and development on better compressors and controllers for their systems.
One of their latest products is the ClassAir system which they designed specifically for classrooms. It is a fresh air ventilation system which helps students concentrate better by using 'free cooling' from outside air and heat recovery. Aside from the proper ventilation in the classroom, they are cheap to run. AirSource's TempAir products use renewable energy to provide heating, cooling and ventilation. The company provides for bespoke applications with its 'CustomAir' which they adapt to specific needs.
Dave told me they sell most of their solutions to UK customers. However, they see an export opportunity when they have standardised their products.
I asked Dave about how the Brexit result would affect them. With the pragmatism of a businessman, Dave said:
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“It is important for us to show now that we have great products based on sound engineering.”
I asked Dave about why they are different to their competitors.
“People come to us for straight-talking, advice and solutions. Technically, customers like the fact that we make the system controls based on their exact needs. Added to that, we then provide customers great support.”
It seems like AirSource has a winning formula. They recently won Salford's SME Business of the Year too.