Kevin Walter – when consulting and contracting meet

By Ilana Koegelenberg

Kevin Walter started his career as a consulting engineer, but eventually found his calling as refrigeration contractor — and he hasn’t looked back since.

Kevin Walter is a mechanical engineer at Lutz Refrigeration, which means he handles everything from design and quoting, to project management through to commissioning and even management of maintenance thereafter. Occasionally, he even gets to roll up his sleeves and get involved on site during complex maintenance issues and for commissioning of the bigger systems.

Kevin001 webKevin Walter, mechanical engineer at Lutz Refrigeration.

Getting started
Before joining the Lutz team, Walter worked at two other consulting firms within the HVAC and mine refrigeration/ventilation sectors, respectively: Richard Pearce and Partners, and Bluhm Burton Engineering.

It was by chance that he met Loni Nicolopulos — the current owner of Lutz Refrigeration — who was looking for a successor to learn the ropes and later take over the business. “The idea of getting into contracting and running my own firm seemed terrifying but exciting at the same time, so I took a leap of faith and joined the team at Lutz Refrigeration.”

Walter holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Johannesburg and an Honours degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pretoria.

Why this industry?
“I find thermodynamics and control systems very interesting, so I gravitated towards refrigeration. But I also like the people aspect that is attached to contracting, so the refrigeration contractor role suits me fantastically.”

His favourite part of the job is the excitement of trying to bring what he has learnt as a consultant to the world of contracting. “I feel this gives us a slight edge in the technical department and I revel in the opportunity to provide innovation for our clients.”

Future plans
The Lutz team is currently busy with various large-scale projects, with a massive drive towards innovative energy solutions within competitive budgets for clients. “I’d like to see our reputation as a price-competitive contractor that provides much more than the current run-of-the-mill refrigeration grow, as our projects speak for themselves. Specifically, we’d like to become the industry leader in large-scale freon cold storage and process cooling while still servicing the smaller clients — with the same bespoke individual attention that all our clients enjoy.”

Projects
Outside of the mining industry where projects are enormous, one of the biggest projects Walter managed in recent years was Southern Cold Storage (reviewed in the July/August 2017 edition of Cold Link Africa), which holds roughly 3 700 pallets in an approximately 25 000m3 -25°C freezer store. This is currently a flagship freezer store for Lutz, boasting an impressively low running cost.

Motivation
“I’m not hell-bent on being the richest guy in town; I enjoy engineering and am grateful that I landed up where I am in life. I like the old saying ‘charity starts at home’, and I hope to improve the lives of the staff around me and one day leave a legacy where people will be grateful for the footprint I left behind.”


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