Having rebranded in April 2019 Kirby has been laying the foundations to continue its focus on customers in 2020.
The company has been connecting with the trade through a series of industry trade nights and tailored customer training programs.
Kirby national sales & marketing manager, Brett Hedge, said the the CO2 systems training provided by Kirby and SCM Frigo throughout 2018/19 was a great success story for the company, adding that it is just the start of things to come.
“A new Beijer Ref Academy opening in 2021 will provide Beijer Ref businesses across Australia and New Zealand with a world-class facility to continue training technicians in the use of new technologies,” Hedge said.
For Kirby the focus will continue to be on strengthening the refrigeration component of the trade and that includes supporting apprentices and trade technicians.
Referring to Australia’s silver medal win at the International WorldSkills Competition last year, Hedge said the impressive result by Skillaroo, Patrick Brennan, was a testament to what can be achieved when we invest in our youth. Brennan’s win was particularly significant for Kirby as the company has sponsored WorldSkills Australia for 23 years.
“WorldSkills provides us with the opportunity to support apprentices, a commitment that has been extended with the establishment of the Kirby Apprentice Fund,” Hedge said.
“Kirby has a history of fostering apprentices, so this is an exciting way of bringing an element of our Kirby history into our new Kirby future.”
It has been 18 months since the Beijer Ref acquisition but the change for customers has been minimal largely because the company has taken a business as usual approach to day to day operations.
“2019 has brought about some change but it has largely been a sharpening of focus on the things that have made our business a great success over the years,” Hedge said adding that the structure has been aligned to provide stronger leadership through the wholesale business.
“It is hard to speak on behalf of all customers, but from what we have seen and heard we believe that we are heading in the right direction.
“The experience that Beijer Ref provide as a leading global refrigeration and air conditioning wholesaler is a strength that will provide benefits to our customers.”
The biggest news in 2019 was the change of name announced in April.
“The name change has been accepted by all – not surprising given the heritage behind the Kirby brand,” Hedge said.
“The announcement received some great recognition but also fostered a sense of expectation that is not lost on us. We look forward to building the Kirby business to a position in the market where it has the same respect as Kirby and Lovelocks enjoyed many years ago.”
Looking ahead, Hedge said 2020 will be another busy year with a number of changes requiring significant focus.
He said Kirby is working through the integration plan for a new enterprise system which will facilitate improved efficiencies from the purchasing of raw materials to point of sale staff.
The other major planned initiative is the relocation of the Milperra Head Office, Distribution and Manufacturing plant away from the patch of land that Kirby and Heatcraft have called home for the last 60 years.
“Over the last few years we have added stores to our network providing a platform that makes our great brands accessible in all parts of the country,” Hedge said.
“We are extremely well positioned in metropolitan and regional locations to serve the market and in addition to the above want to be sure that we are doing everything possible to make sure that customers see Kirby as their preferred wholesaler.”
Hedge said the wholesaler will continue to focus on natural refrigerant solutions and lower GWP alternatives.
“Our success in influencing the market in natural solutions over the last 10 years is something that we are proud of and are looking to build on with a broader customer base by leveraging our global network through Beijer Ref,” Hedge said.
“This is an area that fits well with the training and products that we can offer which is a very unique proposition of Kirby.”
Hedge said one of the highlights of 2019 was the launch of World Refrigeration Day.
“We look forward to even greater engagement from the entire industry increasing in 2020 and beyond so that we can continue to raise the profile of HVACR,” he said.