By Eamonn Ryan

For the past 23 years, Pat Burke has been at the helm of RPM Engineering Group, overseeing its remarkable growth and cementing its reputation as a trusted name in the HVAC industry.

Burke’s unwavering dedication and passion for the industry have shaped RPM into a leading firm of consulting engineers.
From humble beginnings with just three employees, the company has expanded to a team of sixteen individuals in the main office and 18 months ago opened a new office in Cape Town, with Burke’s son, Richard, taking charge of operations.

Pat Burke, outgoing Group CEO of RPM Engineering Group.

Pat Burke, outgoing Group CEO of RPM Engineering Group. Image credit: © Eamonn Ryan/RACA Journal

Burke’s entry to mechanical engineering stemmed from a childhood interest in car engines. As a 16-year-old, through his father’s connections, he became an apprentice at Carrier, a Durban-based HVAC company that played a pivotal role in introducing air conditioning to South Africa. He explains that his mechanical inclination and love for tinkering with compressors paved the way for a lifelong passion for air conditioning.

August 2023 personality profile sponsored by:https://www.fourwaysaircon.co.za/

Burke’s enthusiasm and dedication propelled him through various roles in the industry. After completing his five-year apprenticeship, he gained invaluable experience in contracting, and thereafter further broadened his experience by transitioning to become a counter salesperson for a refrigeration equipment wholesaler. Through hard work and determination throughout the 80s, he climbed the ladder, eventually becoming a branch manager in Durban and then Cape Town.

However, Burke soon realised that the corporate environment stifled his passion. Seeking a change, he joined Hill Kaplan Scott Consulting Engineers in 1990, as a maintenance engineer for two years before joining Richard Pearce Partners. This marked a turning point in his career, as he found his true calling in maintenance consulting. Eight years later, Burke took a bold step and acquired his division, forming RPM Engineering Group, initially known as Richard Pearce Maintenance.

It began as a maintenance consulting practice but has since broadened into a full services engineering group.

Burke explains that the company’s portfolio includes a substantial maintenance contract with Pick ‘n Pay, overseeing the upkeep of approximately 130 stores. “RPM conducts bi-annual inspections and deploys field experts to ensure optimal functioning of HVAC systems and generate detailed reports.”

As the head of the company, Burke has continuously sought out new and exciting projects to fuel the company’s progress. While much of the work is ‘bread and butter’ Burke never loses sight of the importance of finding unique and engaging projects that capture the imagination, such as the Nelson Mandela Square project featured elsewhere in this issue.

One notable area of expertise for RPM is VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) systems. Burke has a profound understanding of these systems, and the company has successfully completed numerous projects, demonstrating their competence in this field.

In recent years, RPM has witnessed significant growth, with Burke crediting it to their proactive clients, particularly their strong relationship with Redefine Properties. Burke attributes his firm’s expansion and capability to undertake larger projects to the strength of the Redefine relationship. “We have established a fruitful and ongoing collaboration with them, working closely with their building managers and facilities managers to ensure efficient air conditioning maintenance and optimal building performance.”

A core component of this success, says Burke, stems from knowledge-sharing: “We offer guidance and training to client building managers and facilities managers, addressing their technical needs.”

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