The original founder and inspiration of the ACRA Kimberley branch which formally opened in May, was a name that loomed over the entire proceedings given he passed away during the process: Zach Reinecke.

Zack Reinecke, inspiration for ACRA Kimberley, together with wife Frances.

Zack Reinecke, inspiration for ACRA Kimberley, together with wife Frances. Provided by family

At the opening, RACA Journal caught up with his wife and business partner, Frances Reinecke, who shared some insights.

The legacy of Zach Reinecke, a pioneering figure in the HVAC&R sector in Kimberley, continues to inspire as his vision of establishing a training centre became a reality with the inauguration of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Academy (ACRA) branch in Kimberley. Through his decades-long commitment to excellence and education, Reinecke’s impact leaves a legacy in the form of the facility, marking a new era for aspiring technicians and professionals.

“Zach’s journey in refrigeration began over six decades ago when he founded the first air conditioning company in the Northern Cape. His familial ties to the industry spanned generations, with his late father-in-law, Charles Reinecke, installing the region’s first cold room and freezer room, laying the foundation for Reinecke’s lifelong passion,” explains Frances.

Reinecke’s career epitomised dedication, innovation, perseverance and determination. “He started as a technician, evolved into an engineer, and ultimately pursued his dream of establishing a training centre in Kimberley. That initial business, Northern Cape Refrigeration, ultimately evolved into Ambient Control. Then in February 2019, the first steps were taken to establish an ACRA satellite office, offering safe handling of gases courses. By August 2022, ACRA officially opened its doors [as opposed to the official launch in May 2024], fulfilling Zach’s dream of providing comprehensive training and education in HVAC&R,” says Frances Reinecke.

Tragically, Reinecke’s untimely passing in October 2022 left a void in the industry, but Frances vowed to continue his legacy. “We will still carry on with the training centre,” she affirmed. “His dream has come true, and we are committed to ensuring its success.”

Reinecke’s passion for training stemmed from a desire to elevate industry standards and address the shortage of skilled technicians. “He recognised the importance of proper competition and continuous improvement,” Frances explained. “His dedication to excellence drove him to instill his knowledge and expertise in the next generation of technicians.”

Frances fondly reminisced about his remarkable journey and his unwavering dedication to education: “Zach was not only a skilled technician but also a passionate educator. He was a soft-spoken and patient individual, with a genuine enthusiasm for teaching and a willingness to engage with students at every level. He had the patience to explain complex concepts and encourage further inquiry. His passion for sharing knowledge was evident in every aspect of his work.

“Zach’s belief in the value of continuous learning and professional development inspired him to establish ACRA as a platform for aspiring technicians to acquire essential skills and qualifications. His vision of creating a comprehensive training centre in Kimberley was driven by a desire to address the shortage of skilled technicians in the industry and elevate standards of excellence.

Frances Reinecke.

Frances Reinecke. © RACA Journal

“He always said that you must share your knowledge,” Frances emphasised. “For Zach, education was not just about acquiring skills; it was about giving back to the industry and ensuring its future success.”

Today, ACRA Kimberley offers a range of courses, from safe handling of gases to advanced electrical training, tailored to meet the diverse needs of students and industry professionals. Frances Reinecke explained the academy’s innovative approach to apprenticeships, which combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training, facilitated through partnerships with local contractors.

“We have contracts signed with contractors around us. Students spend time both at the academy and with contractors, gaining practical experience and theoretical knowledge essential for their careers.”

She highlighted the role of private companies in supporting ACRA’s training initiatives, with many sending their employees to receive specialised instruction. “Companies like Coca-Cola, PPC and Turbo Cooling recognise the value of investing in their workforce. They understand that skilled technicians are crucial for the success of their operations.”

In terms of her role, she noted: “This training facility was once our business, but now it belongs to ACRA as the sole owner, and I now work for them. Having run our own business, I understand things better – how to manage costs and make informed decisions. I bring that perspective to my role at ACRA, ensuring responsible stewardship of resources.”

Reinecke oversees administration, a task she describes as involving a considerable amount of paperwork, especially concerning training programmes and bookings.

As ACRA continues to grow and adapt to changing needs, Frances Reinecke’s dedication to maintaining high standards and fostering a culture of learning ensures that Zach’s legacy lives on, inspiring generations of HVAC&R professionals to reach new heights.