County Meath-based Versatile has been able to chalk up over 30 years of operation thanks to a forward-thinking approach that has seen it constantly evolving its offering to suit the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace. This eye for innovation was recently further underlined when its Zehnder ComfoAir Q ventilation unit was put forward for a prestigious Irish Construction Industry Award 2018 within the Construction Product of the Year category.
“It’s always been in our culture and DNA to provide customers with the best products available and the ComfoAir Q is just the latest example of this approach in action,” explains Andrew Treacy, Managing Director. “The product was only launched in the past year and is an absolute quantum leap forward in terms of the benefits it brings to heat recovery ventilation. For example, it is a very quiet unit, producing 40 per cent less noise in comparison with similar products available in the market, while it also has the lowest SFP (Specific Fan Power) rating around. What’s more, the user interface is extremely simple to use. Overall the ComfoAir Q is able to provide outstanding comfort for a perfect indoor climate and healthier buildings with maximum energy efficiency. It’s cooling properties have even been able to overcome the overheating issue that has emerged due to the fact that modern buildings are so airtight.”
Versatile has been operating within the heat recovery ventilation market for around ten years now, building on a specialism within the heating sector that dates back over three decades. “Over the years we’ve strived to organically evolve the business by listening to the needs of the market and continually keeping an eye on the latest innovations that are coming through,” adds Mr Treacy. “We remain a family company and have developed the business to the extent that it now has three distinct elements within the overall group: Versatile Heating, Cooling & Ventilation; Versatile Bathrooms and Versatile Tiles. A workforce of around 60 employees support our activities across these three divisions.”
Versatile’s emphasis on innovation has not only helped it secure award recognition but more importantly has enabled it to shrug off the previous market downturns. “Even during the worst of the recession we were still able to keep growing the business because of the quality of the product range we offer and the fact it’s so cutting edge. This meant we were leading the way in terms of energy efficiency, something that obviously becomes increasingly important to businesses during a market downturn when money is tight.
“We would never sell a product that we didn’t believe in and as a result we have been able to develop excellent relationships with our suppliers and Zehnder is a prime example of this. In fact, their original owner, Hans-Peter Zehnder, said to me ten years ago that we needed to move into heat recovery ventilation because of how the market is changing. Ten years on and here we are, with their product being one of our fasting growing lines. In addition, the ComfoAir Q is ideally placed to make the most of the move towards ‘Near to Zero’ energy buildings that we’re seeing within the wider marketplace. We’re also continuing to focus on innovative radiator products too.”
Despite the success of the Zehnder ComfoAir Q in particular, Versatile continues to look for opportunities in all areas of the marketplace, including traditional radiators. However, there are also challenges to be contended with, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. “We export a significant amount of products to the UK with it accounting for around 70 per cent of our business so the whole Brexit issue is concerning, as is the volatility of Sterling. We have plenty of experience to draw on when dealing with these types of challenge, however, and we’re looking forward to further develop the business by adding more products to our ventilation portfolio.
“It is clear that the market is increasingly embracing higher quality solutions and the likes of the Zehnder ComfoAir Q product will become the norm rather than the exception, as awareness of the benefits it can provide grows. Moving forward, ‘Near to Zero’ buildings will become all the more important to achieving Ireland’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions, so we’ll be playing our part in the overall solution. It’s all about having a joined up approach and we’re keen for our technologies to be involved. The key now is to raise awareness of what our products can offer and the benefits they provide. In addition to being functional, our portfolio also has a strong aesthetic element too and across the group we are very design-orientated.
“It’s important to emphasise that the strength of our product portfolio is only part of what we’re about as a business because we’re also extremely customer-focused. Our strapline is ‘From inspiration to installation, we’re with you all the way’ and as part of this ethos our designers work closely with the client every step of the way from the very start of the project until completion. This means that in the unlikely event of an issue we will be on-hand to analyse the problem and resolve it. The overriding objective is to provide the customer with complete peace of mind.”
It is this commitment to ensuring the customer receives the required level of solution that has played such an integral part in Versatile’s longevity as a business. The other key element is the strength of its range, as demonstrated by the award recognition that its Zehnder ComfoAir Q ventilation unit has received. This marriage of excellent customer service and a high quality range of products looks set to keep providing the foundation for the company’s future growth and development.