Heatcraft Australia is embarking on a new era of excellence. The wholesaler unveiled its plans for the year ahead in an exclusive interview with CCN.
With a new leadership team now firmly in place, Heatcraft is ready to move ahead with its bold new plans for 2018.
For the first time in more than a decade Heatcraft has an Australian managing director. The previous two managing directors were both from the United States.
Having an Aussie at the helm really does make a difference, according to current managing director, Damian Mackey, who has been in the role since the beginning of 2017. “It is much easier to relate to an Australian,” he said. And Mackey should know, he has run companies in 10 countries.
“I know how a local can make a difference. We have a more specific understanding of the market and we have this understanding much earlier because we are more in tune with the environment,” he said. With a background in industrial products, Mackey’s track record is all about leading and inspiring strong teams that deliver results and that is exactly what Heatcraft customers can expect in 2018.
Mackey admitted the company has always been customer focused. “But now we have a laser focus,” he said. “You’re only as good as your relationship with customers which is why our goal now is to delight the customer.”
That’s an ambitious goal but as Mackey points out – good business is built on service. “We have to identify how to make our customers succeed in a highly competitive market,” he said. “The leadership team has been busy travelling across the country visiting branches, empowering staff and gaining plenty of customer insights.” Forget customer satisfaction surveys, all of the interactions have been face to face.
“It is important for us to be out there interacting with local teams because we need them to be engaged so they can really connect with customers,” Mackey said. “We are only as good as our people, we need to give them every possible tool to succeed. Heatcraft is very integrated, it is very much a part of HVACR in Australia. I have noticed when I meet people that everyone seems to know someone who works at Heatcraft or has worked here. The company has a great tradition in Australia.
“We are drawing on all of these great attributes from our tailored, customised solutions to our great Kirby heritage. We are innovators but we also acknowledge the Heatcraft traditions that have made us successful.”
Mackey said the company is planning to launch a number of new products in the new year which will be on show during the ARBS Exhibition in May, 2018.
The new members of the team along with the existing team of Paul Campbell, operations director and Colleen Osborne, finance director have created a great mix of energy and experience. Roger Pecnik, Heatcraft’s marketing director, has seen the renewed customer focus across the business.
“Although customers have always been at the centre of Heatcraft’s success, we now have the right leadership team in place to deliver,” he said. “This is the most aligned I have seen the business in the past two years. Effective alignment starts at the top and I have seen how it has been spreading through the entire organisation. This is because we have a team that is invested in our plans, we are all heading in the same direction.”
Pecnik said Heatcraft is also leveraging its technical superiority – a feature that has always set the company apart from the rest of the market. “We are doing this at a local level by upskilling local teams to ensure they have greater technical expertise,” he said.
Pecnik also commented on the importance of Heatcraft guiding its customers through the regulatory and technological changes across the industry, “We need to ensure that our customers get the advice and information they need to future proof their capital for the years ahead,” he said. “We are only successful if our branches and local teams are successful. That is why we are working so hard to ensure they are highly skilled and well positioned to deliver on the ground.”
Supporting this goal is the company’s new supply chain director, Michael Carr, who has been in the role for six months. Carr has spent 27 years in the fast moving consumer goods industry.
“The supply chain in HVACR is similar with the same kind of issues,” he said. “These are areas that require a strong customer focus. To ensure the supply chain is world class, we are leveraging connections with suppliers, customers and branches. This includes ensuring we have stock availability at all times.”
Carr describes the supply chain as the glue that holds everything together. “This glue works when there is the right depth of inventory in branches, our suppliers have the right products and products are getting to customers on time,” he said. “To make it work we need our sales staff talking to customers and passing on that feedback.”
Heatcraft’s director of human resources, Susan Milne, joined the company 10 months ago and in that short period of time has been impressed by the long tenure of most people in the industry. “Long tenure equals credibility and it is our job to build on that capability,” Milne said.
Milne has been at the centre of staff development initiatives and the upskilling of our teams. It isn’t just about technical skills, we are also placing an emphasis on developing the softer skills to enable our staff to better delight our customers,” she said. “Heatcraft’s deep heritage in HVACR is evident in the quality of its people. The staff are our champions and I really want to make the most of this great asset.”
For Heatcraft sales director, Stuart Crabb, it is about powering up branch communication and creating branch communities.
“We are encouraging staff to interact more, engage with customers, be more proactive,” he said. “In this industry we can get to know our customers individually so when a customer walks into a branch we know that customer’s name. It is fundamental but it is absolutely fundamental to success.” After only four months in the job, Crabb said he did notice that employees were already customer focused.
“But it needs to be harnessed so we can unlock the customer potential and ensure it is fully realised,” he said. “The key is providing customers with the right solution but to do that we need to know the customer well and we need to know the customer’s business. For our staff to deliver they need to be trained in every product we have, every application and to have the expertise to help their customers succeed. There is a lot of old equipment out there and not a lot of big capital investment, it is a breakdown mentality,” Crabb said.
“That’s why we need to interact with the customer base as much as possible, to find out what equipment they need, how we can help their business grow and to use our experience and heritage in this business to really add value.”
Clearly the new leadership team at Heatcraft Australia are on a mission – to connect, lead, inspire and, most importantly, to delight.