In 1984, a new managing director was appointed at a barely known refrigerator factory in Qingdao, China.
After attending to a customer who had complained about a fault, the decision was made to improve operations by acquiring technology and production techniques from a more successful German factory.
This small act set the wheels in motion for the company to transform into Haier, the number one brand of appliances in the world (based on retail volume sales*).
It all started by responding to a customer’s needs, and it’s that same dedication that has led the brand to become the international powerhouse it is today.
While beginning in the refrigeration sector, it was only a short time before Haier moved into other markets.
The first air conditioner manufactured by Haier came along in 1985 and was followed by another first in 1993 - their variable speed inverter air conditioner, a specialised high-quality entry to the marketplace which set the stage for future growth.
In 1999, Haier began exporting to the United States, while in 2001 a new Pakistan factory was opened to produce for the Asian market.
2007 saw Haier become an official sponsor of the Beijing Olympics, followed by acquisitions of Fisher & Paykel (2012) and GE Appliances (2016).
Technical developments also contributed greatly to Haier’s success on the global stage. In 2014, the company built a new research and development facility in Qingdao.
The new facility features a 110-metre testing tower, which was the largest in the world at the time of construction. The tower created practical testing methods for developing larger systems to service high rise buildings.
This testing tower was in large part responsible for the 2017 development of the massive 14700kw magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller.
Though Haier built itself into a global leader in the air conditioning market, they were relatively unknown in Australia until 2015.
Re-entering the local HVAC market under the sole distribution of Fisher & Paykel, a wholly owned subsidiary of Haier, the company has experienced significant growth.
In the few subsequent years, Haier’s Australian team has built strong relationships with dealers and resellers across the country, including ACD Trade, the CoolChain Group, Globalrez, National Air Parts, Air Direct, and AC Select.
Haier has introduced a wide range of premium air conditioning products into the Australian marketplace, over 260 in fact, from multiple ranges of High Wall Split systems (including the Elite, Premier, and T Series products) to the Flexis range of R32 models in October 2018.
They’re also offering a comprehensive range of ducted and cassette split systems from 7.1kW to 16kW, available for both domestic and light commercial markets, while the new 20 and 24kW ducted systems were introduced at ARBS 2018.
They feature a horizontal discharge condenser which reduces the installation footprint for residential and light commercial applications.
2018 also saw Haier launch into the commercial market with a range of commercial products.
At the forefront of these offerings is a completely new range of MRV- Haier’s VRF products, plus the commercial offering includes the powerful Oil-free magnetic bearing chillers.
Developed in-house and featuring astounding, previously unheard of capabilities, this system represents one of the key technological developments in the HVAC industry.
Haier’s growth in Australia is not just limited to product range though, as they’ve also spent much of 2018 boosting their human resources.
Business Development Managers for Multiple Dealers have been appointed in several states and a Commercial Air Conditioning BDM team was created with three new team members across the eastern states.
The team of Field Service Managers is also growing in order to maintain the high standard of warranty servicing and after-sales care that Haier has committed to and have recently added three Regional Service Managers to the eastern seaboard.
To aid the Field Service Managers, Haier has also launched a new online service tracking feature (click) to provide a better customer service experience to the consumer.
The growth, of course, can’t happen without a seed. Just like the customer who catalysed Haier’s first steps towards success back in 1984, the company’s success in Australia is in large part due to the relationships they’ve built with their customers.
One such customer is ACD Trade, a specialist wholesaler servicing the market in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Daryn Shepherd, National Sales Manager of ACD Trade, shares his thoughts on Haier’s recent growth.
“Since taking on the brand in mid-2016, Haier has grown into a consistent product offering for our expansive SME customer base. While initially offered only as a low-cost wall split, the expanding product range and aftermarket support is leading to increased sales opportunities as their place in the market continues to expand,” he said.
“Haier’s comprehensive range, including VRF products, give our customers the confidence that Haier has a product solution for the majority of their application needs.
“As contractor’s confidence in the product continues to grow and Haier’s brand awareness strengthens with end users, we see continued sales growth with the Haier Products and look forward to growing and strengthening this relationship.”
It’s certainly been a busy few years growing the brand down under, but Australian Sales Manager Tony Bartlett believes the team is only just warming up.
“Whether it’s hot or cold outside, people want to have a stable, controlled environment. Today, over 70 per cent of new homes, offices and other buildings have a form of climate control/air conditioning installed,” Bartlett said.
“It’s predicted that towards 2030 that number will jump to 90 per cent. We have plenty of room for growth and innovation in our industry for years to come.”
Plans for the near future are a little more determined. Bartlett and his team are looking to double total market share by 2022, as they have already gained traction in targeted sectors of the industry.
“Haier solutions are here for the duration, but I believe we deliver a solution that is as competitive as any of the other manufacturers in our market,” he said.
While much of Haier’s growth strategy is, of course, confidential, the next step involves the further development of their domestic range.
This will be championed by the introduction of the aforementioned Flexis range, featuring WiFi connectivity and intelligent features that make installation and operation a breeze.
Improved service capabilities, increased distribution, and new sales territories are on the cards for the immediate future.
“We have the product range, the reliability, and the agility to better serve our industry, and we’re looking forward to seeing where the road takes us and who we meet along the way,” Bartlett said.
These products are only available through specialist Air Conditioning contractors and wholesalers.
To become a Haier Air Conditioning Dealer or Wholesaler visit the website and make contact today at www.haier.com.au. 24/7 Customer Care Centre 1300 729 948.
*Source Euromonitor International Limited. Consumer Appliances 2018ed, % unit share 2017 data. Major Appliances category is the sum of dishwashers, home laundry appliances, large cooking appliances, microwaves and refrigeration appliances.