When Flowrite was named Contractor of the Year (Over 100 Employees) at the prestigious RAC Cooling Industry Awards 2019 in September, the success not only underlined the company’s high standing within the marketplace but also highlighted its consistency as it has been no stranger to award recognition.
“The fact we’ve won this award and have received other accolades in the past shows we’re a strong business that’s on the right track,” explains Tod Harrison, CEO. “We’re always delighted to receive recognition from our peers, particularly as it really highlights the hard work and dedication of our people and the role they’ve played in our progression.
“I’ve always been very passionate about training because when I was an engineer someone took the time to mentor and support my career development. Now I’m CEO of this business I feel it’s essential I create a culture where people can meet their full potential. It’s fundamental to what we do as a business, hence why we have the number of apprentices we do. We also carry out a substantial amount of training throughout the winter period when we’re a bit quieter. I have been lucky enough to be supported so it’s important I give something back in return.”
Emphasising the importance of Flowrite’s workforce clearly indicates one of the key tenets of the business, namely staff development. “We’ve always been firmly committed to investing in our people through training, in-house courses and apprenticeships,” adds Tod. “We run internal Institute of Leadership & Management courses and are very proactive about giving our people the necessary tools to develop and grow in a manner that benefits both ourselves as a business and our customers. Our structure is set up to allow us to be visible to our customers and our staff, which in turn helps to create a real sense of ownership that is then aligned with our clients.
“Because we are visible and take ownership of our customers and our staff, we’ve been able to build an environment of trust where we do what we actually say we’re going to do. The final main element of our approach is that we’re always striving for excellence. I want Flowrite to be the best air conditioning and refrigeration business there is. What’s exciting is that I don’t actually know what that means yet, because we are constantly challenging ourselves and pushing the limits of what’s possible.”
Built on the foundation of a highly trained and motivated workforce, coupled with the importance it places on strong customer relationships, Flowrite’s forward thinking approach has seen the company developing new systems and technologies, placing it firmly at the forefront of the industry.
“There are challenges in the marketplace regarding how services are delivered and technology is playing a huge part in addressing some of the issues that are being faced, especially in terms of the skills shortage and the need to improve efficiencies,” says Tod. “At the heart of our approach is the way in which we utilise data. As a result we know exactly what work our engineers carry out and what the costs are. Having access to this level of data is absolutely essential to how we operate the business and allows us to instantly make fully informed decisions.”
The extent to which Flowrite has embraced new technology is further demonstrated by its remote monitoring platform, CoolerResponse, which enables it to proactively manage its customers’ assets and resolve any issues without the need to physically send an engineer out, dramatically reducing costs, downtime and energy usage in the process.
“We are far more proactive about identifying issues before they occur and while this isn’t new to the industry, it is in terms of how we’re using technology to package and utilise it. What makes us unique is that we can provide a complete offering including monitoring equipment and formulating the best strategy to rectify a problem. If this can’t be done remotely then we’ve retained the capability to send an engineer to the job. If this does prove to be the case then we have a first time fix rate of 85% when we get there, which is industry leading, and we can carry out monitoring afterwards to ensure the problem doesn’t reoccur.
“I no longer consider ourselves as a purely refrigeration business, even though we’re extremely good at it. Instead we’re more of a technology-based service provider that has the platform to grow and support the industry. This is where we really differentiate from the rest of the marketplace, which tends to be quite traditional and slow moving.
“We are looking at our business in a different way and we own the IP for all the remote monitoring technology. We also have live trials taking place where we’re monitoring whole kitchen environments, from the ovens and the duct sensors through to energy consumption, to give a complete picture of the situation at any given time. It’s proving to be an extremely powerful tool in terms of the data it generates.”
As it looks to build on its impressive infrastructure and make the most of its technology-driven ethos, Flowrite is keen to keep the momentum going by pushing back more boundaries.
“There’s an opportunity for us to show the market that we can do things differently and reduce costs by utilising new technology,” outlines Tod. “There’s an engineer shortage, there’s no getting away from it, and we can’t keep putting the pressure on margins.
“The industry can be slow to change, and getting people to adapt to our offering can be challenging, but we’re determined to keep banging the drum about what’s possible. Ultimately we want to take our customers on this journey with us. Our key aim is to organically grow the business with our existing client base. This is always the best recommendation we could ever receive.
“We also want to be increasingly recognised as a company that is leading the industry in all aspects of what we do, whether it’s technology, level of service or our approach to staff training and development. I’d be more than delighted if companies copied our methods. It’s the sincerest form of flattery after all.” Given the ongoing award plaudits it’s receiving and the fact that it is continually shaking up the marketplace with the use of new technology, Flowrite’s ongoing progression looks assured. Further award recognition certainly can’t be ruled out either.