When Kevin Marr travelled across the Tasman 25 years ago to set up business in Australia he arrived with little more than two suitcases.
The 26-year-old didn’t even have a bank account or telephone.
But what Marr did have was plenty of ambition and a belief that his company, Eurotec Instruments, would succeed.
In 2001, Eurotec was acquired by CAREL and today CAREL is a global company that was listed on the Milan Stock Exchange 18 months ago.
To mark this quarter-century milestone, CAREL CEO APAC South, Kevin Marr, talks to CCN about how the business has changed since starting out as a distributor.
“Setting up a business isn’t easy there is a lot of stress and anxiety,” Marr said.
“The first three years of the business were probably the toughest of my career.
“But from a commercial point of view it has been very satisfying to be in the driver’s seat taking a start-up through its various stages to where it is today.”
Looking back at when it all began, Marr said that back in the mid-1990s the industry was making the transition from mechanical to electronic controllers.
“For large projects such as supermarkets, this transition was complete but for contractors building cold rooms they were still using mechanical defrost controls,” he said.
“This made it challenging because we were introducing new technology as well as a new brand.
“It led to a lot of flights around the country visiting customers and being part of a continuous training mission.”
Marr said the customer discussion today has shifted with the focus on energy savings and ROI.
He said installation costs are also important due to labour costs and labour availability.
“We spend more time on trial projects to demonstrate savings,” he said.
“While independent case studies are a good start nothing beats real, local, customer-based data.”
Prior to the CAREL acquisition, Marr said the company business model was to develop the refrigeration business through wholesalers which is very time-consuming.
“While it has proven successful in the long run, I recall we only had about $30K in sales in the first six months,” he said.
By the time the acquisition took place, Marr said sales were just under $A2.5 million.
“Since then we have managed to achieve double digit CAGR right up until now,” he said.
Marr said becoming part of the CAREL Group provided access to more financial resources, R&D, innovative technology and greater recognition from larger OEM’s, end users and corporate customers.
Since listing on the stock exchange, Marr said there is a stronger focus on planning in the medium/long term, and a more coherent structure.
“Our investors are long term funds interested in our long term strategy, not the daily stock exchange variations,” he said.
“This allows us to focus on the future, instead of being distracted by short term market fluctuations.
“Over the next 25 years we will continue to focus on our geographical footprint allowing us to get closer to our customer base.”
In Australia, Marr said its CAREL’s staff that sets it apart from competitors.
“We have always had strong technical support which has given us a good reputation for high quality application knowledge,” he said.
“Our front of house people are mostly from the trade because technical support is even more critical in the area of HVACR control solutions.”