State of the local industry – feedback

By Ilana Koegelenberg

I was completely humbled by the overwhelming feedback I have received on my July edition feature on the state of the local HVAC&R industry, both from local professionals and abroad. Here are some of their comments…

Pat Burke of RPM Engineering Group
Congratulations on your excellent feature article on the state of the South African HVAC&R sector.

I believe your article accurately depicts the present status of our local industry — an industry that is currently in a state of flux.

My personal perception is that the industry is generally overtraded, which probably works to a degree in the good (boom) times. However, in today’s market scenario, it is simply not sustainable.

This situation is certainly not unique to South Africa. It is in fact a global phenomenon. This is borne out by the many large international company mergers, take-overs, acquisitions, and joint ventures that have occurred in very recent times. The industry is clearly in dire need of such consolidation generally.

From the very outset, our industry has been one of ‘too many trying to make money out of too few’.

Add to this uncontrolled imports, poor implementation of industry standards, lack of meaningful protection for the local manufacturer, lack of skills and training, and all the other maladies that contribute negatively to the situation we face today.

However, it is not time to despair. These poor economic times (and we have had a few) have a habit of levelling the playing fields, sorting the wheat from the chaff.

The well-run, well-managed, quality-first companies will no doubt weather the storm, leaving behind a stronger, more stable industry from which the country will benefit as a whole, in years to come.

Stephen Gill – Institute of Refrigeration (IoR) president
Thank you for sending this, and what an interesting and, may I say, timely read.

Much of what you say rings very true across the wider global industry, in that the average age of ‘artisans’ (not heard us called that before) is rising (surprised it is only 56!), and that the refrigeration sector remains busy.

The HVAC or M&E is very much dependent upon the construction industry, which in turn follows the economic climate. A building boom or even a rise in leases/lettings is economy related.

Back to the ageing workforce for a moment and the lack of knowledge transfer; this was one of the reasons that I launched the mentoring scheme in 2015. We are not only finding that the workforce is ageing, but also that many of the older workers now work for smaller organisations and are often freelancing or self-employed, which obviously reduces the opportunity to pass on their knowledge during their normal day job.

Really good article. Thank you for sharing. A nice start to the day.

Steve Comstock – publisher of ASHRAE Journal
Thanks so much. Nice job. Very interesting. My take-aways are (besides a need for more business) the need for training and innovative projects that blend technologies. We see that here too.

From your article, it does seem we want to follow up on a training opportunity.

Thanks again.

Yannick Lu-Cotrelle – market intelligence manager at Eurovent Market Intelligence
Thank you again for your brilliant article that I have read with great care and attention, and thank you for your help. It opens our eyes to the lack of information available on the South African market.

We would like to restore justice by making a dedicated market study for South Africa, of course in addition to the global ‘European’ article we normally publish.

Satomi Kakuya – JARN reporter
Thank you for your article. It seems hard to find data on the South African HVAC&R market.

It will help us learn more about the market in South Africa.

What do you think?

The state of our local HEVAC&R industry is an ongoing topic of interest, as the situation changes from week to week. What is happening in your world and what do you think the real issues are that our industry faces?

I’d love to hear from you. So, let me know! You can contact me at or on +27 (0) 11 579 4940. 

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