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Business as usual for PCE & Chiller and Aircon Services


After the sad loss of business visionary Cassie Steenkamp at the beginning of 2021 that left a significant void, operations continue as planned and management’s view of the future remains optimistic, noting that as the industry changes and adapts, so too will they – as all businesses must today to avoid getting left behind.

Carrying a legacy forward is by no means an easy feat but this has been achieved so far through the team that is enthusiastic and passionate about keeping up the business’ success, even though the industry is going through an extremely tough time from an economic point of view under the pressure of the ongoing pandemic, as well as supply chain and import/export challenges.

“Ensuring business as per usual has been the main objectives of the team as well as continuing to assist our clients – no matter what their needs are as we always have – from South Africa to Ethiopia. Can’t is not a word we often use here and is followed by the philosophy of always making a plan or finding a way,” says business lead stand-in managing director Iwan van den Berg.

Perhaps not widely known is the vast portfolio of the business that includes the complete refurbishment of any compressor – the business priding themselves in using only OEM parts ensuring quality and even re-doing windings inhouse, onsite servicing and maintenance of chillers and air conditioning systems, and chiller rentals for many applications. They hold thousands of items in stock and even go as far as keeping some for compressors they may only see once in 10 years.

More recently the addition of the direct distribution of Carel controllers and LS switch gears, as well as system design, controller programming, and becoming sales and rental agents of ice cream machines were further added to the list of their offerings.

“We have to follow the international trends around what’s happening in the rest of the world, and this includes creating convenience for your clients as well as cost efficiency. Adding strategic product distribution as well as the ability to write our own software and design systems enables us to provide the right solutions at the right competitive price. We also now have the ability to do even more amazing things with the systems we work on in terms of energy efficiency and therefore cost savings”, adds van den Berg.

Remembering Cassie Steenkamp

Steenkamp was well known in the industry particularly for his business strategy, being able to understand a far bigger picture and almost ‘predict’ the outcome of the future. The vision left behind will still be carried forward as his care for the business and team stood strong as he continued to give guidance and steer the business to be a better company and remain an exceptional working environment right up to the time of his passing.

Steenkamp further had a wonderful passion for helping people to improve and building a strong team while he continued to offer up his time to mentorship and letting others realise their dreams, all amidst building the business up to what it essentially is today. His legacy will continue long into the future.

Cassie Steenkamp was known for being able to understand the bigger picture and predict future outcomes.
Image credit: Power Compressor Exchange

Forward plans

For any business, ensuring they have the right people in place is critical, particularly in the void left by a lost leader, and for these companies it is indeed the case according to van den Berg who notes that the team is more than just work colleagues, they are a family.

“As we push forward, as all sectors must these days, we will continue to expand using the internal knowledge and skill sets within the companies to keep providing quality services. Change is important because without it you fall behind and we definitely intend to stay ahead, however, how change is implemented is an important aspect too because transition between events or changes may be stressful for everyone involved and alignment becomes critical for a successful outcome”, notes van den Berg.

In addition, van den Berg stresses in caution that business in the HVAC&R space today have to be careful because their own dealing have noted that much trust has been lost, particularly in contracting, because behind the scenes people who are not adequately trained or qualified are found to be working on very expensive equipment. An air conditioning technician should not be working on a multi-million-rand chiller investment because when something goes wrong and breaks, it’s not a couple of hundred rand to fix, but could be tens of thousands of rands.

Another critical aspect that needs to get attention is the general mindset around costs as clients are generally only interested in the figures at the bottom of the quote rather than considering the lifespan of their equipment. Generally, plant equipment will last up to 25 years and poor choices up front could land up costing dearly over the long term, considering capacities could run into many megawatts – even the smallest savings enables a payback period of any additional capital within a very short period compared to the expected life span.

Concluding van den Berg says, “At the end of the day, we continue to look after all of our customers, because business should not see an engagement as a once off but rather the start of a long-term relationship. Our objective has always been to do business with our customers long into the future, 20 plus years down the line, and so a long-term view is what it has always all been about and will continue going forward.”