Kevin O’Shea began his career as a humble technician but in the past 50 years has taken Australia’s HVACR industry to new heights.
This year he shares the award for HVACR Leader of the Year, sponsored by Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, with Mark Padwick.
Kevin was the founding director of both ARBS and the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC). He is a pioneer that led the industry throughout the formative years and was involved in setting up the course for refrigerant handling for the CFC phase out.
He has always been a major contributor to vocational education and skills development.
Kevin’s primary concern has always been strengthening the trade which is why he is the president of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (RACCA).
The joint HVACR Leader of the Year winner says he knew nothing about the trade when he began his apprenticeship at the tender age of 15.
“I’ve seen many changes over the years, especially with refrigerants,” he says.
“During my apprenticeship we were converting methyl chloride to R12(CFC) then we changed to HFC's and now to HFOs.
“Ammonia has always been there and the use of CO2 has greatly increased, which is good to see.”
In 2019, Kevin was appointed a Member (AM) in the general division of the Order of Australia for significant service to the refrigeration and air conditioning industry.
His long list of achievements are impressive but Kevin says his dedication doesn’t show any signs of waning.
“The biggest challenge for our industry is having competent tradespeople available for employment. We have always had a skill shortage and that's not going to change anytime soon; so there is still plenty of work to do,” Kevin says.
“We need to start attracting the right calibre of apprentices that can be trained into highly capable technicians.
“We have to make our industry sexy and appealing and we need to do this by making it more visible as it is a great industry to be a part of. We just need to spread the word.
“I'm still going into the office each day and can’t see that changing anytime soon.”
In between advocating for industry Kevin actually found time to set up his own business, Cold Rae, which provides design, installation, commissioning, maintenance and servicing of air conditioning and ventilation systems.
Sponsored by Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA), the award winners were announced by RRA general manager, Kylie Farrelley.