12 October 2022
Nicky Moroncini is sales director at Basingstoke-based Comfort Building Services.
What was your first job?
Whilst studying at college, I worked at Sainsbury’s evening and weekends. I was like many students who didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had an idea about going into the police and it was suggested that I do a Youth Training Scheme (YTS). I joined Bramshill Police Staff Training College working in their audio visual studio, which involved filming and photography. One day a week I went to college to study for a certificate in Art & Design. I really enjoyed that time and was offered a permanent position after the scheme ended but decided not to pursue my career within the police or civil service.
What does your current role involve?
Comfort Building Services were one of my customers and in January 1995 I was given the opportunity to buy into the business. I had never worked directly in contracting and it was a very steep learning curve. It was hard but I have never been one to give up and slowly my confidence grew.
I joined as sales director and was responsible for developing new sales within the business, primarily air conditioning. I survey the work, design, and propose the best solution and if successful, I project manage it. Once the job is complete, I pass it over to our service manager to quote for the service and maintenance to run alongside the manufacturer’s warranty.
What attracted you to the industry?
I fell into it really! I was not happy in an accounting job and applied for the position of spare parts administrator at Lennox Industries, Basingstoke (1988). After working there for about 8 months, the financial director said he thought I would be good in sales and asked if I wanted to give it a go. I agreed on the proviso that I was given extensive air conditioning and product training in their in-house training department. The training manager was a lovely gentleman called Brian Strowbridge and he gave me one-to-one training to acquire the skills in air conditioning design and selection.
I worked for Lennox Industries for 7 years, until their move to Northampton, and then joined Space Air for 11 years and Kooltech for 8 years until I joined CBS.
I have been employed by great companies, worked with amazing contractors and consultants, and met some fantastic people along the way who have helped me on my career path, many of whom I am still in touch with today.
- My first year sales turnover at Lennox secured me an all-expense paid trip to their HQ in Dallas, Texas
- Securing the largest Mitsubishi Electric VRF order at that time (The Tower, Vauxhall Bridge, 2011) which involved the development of bespoke products which are still being used today.
- Becoming a Member of the Institute of Refrigeration.
How would you like to see your career developing?
I have been in the industry for over 34 years and I am grateful for how my career has developed. There are many changes happening within our industry and I will continue to train for new skills that will help me in my role. I have recently attended AUTOCAD training, gained an IOSH certificate and been on a ductwork design course. We are working towards our MCS accreditation and I will work with our suppliers to continue to improve my knowledge and awareness.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
The best piece of advice I would give to a younger Nicky is not to pretend to know something you don’t as you will dig yourself a hole! If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know but assure the customer that you will find the answer and come back, you will earn greater respect in the long run! I pride myself on repeat business through good customer service.
What do you see as the challenges facing the industry?
- Making ASHPs more affordable when it comes to replacement systems. I believe contractors are being put off quoting replacement systems as the price is generally so much more then the client wants to pay and the pay back on the investment is too long in a lot of cases.
- Young people wanting to join the industry. They need to improve apprenticeship schemes and give the option to cover both heating and air conditioning (Incl. ASHP) at the same time rather than a split course. I can only speak for Southampton and Eastleigh College.
What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?
There are so many different exciting opportunities for women in the industry and my eldest daughter has moved into project management within the construction industry and gets involved in ACR.
I never had the opportunity to go to university, but I did have the tenacity and determination to succeed in a time when it was a very male-dominated industry. It is great to see so many great women in the industry and new ones quickly coming up the ranks.
Nicky likes to wind down in escape rooms
Is there a little-known fact about yourself that would surprise other people (secret skill, unusual hobby etc)?
I wouldn’t say unusual but when I am not working, I enjoy socialising with my family and friends, doing escape rooms (the competitive part of me!), cooking and baking, going to the gym to do Zumba and spin classes. I am also a fair-weather golfer who gets worse year-on-year!