AHRI Member Profiles

Our 300+ members are the heart of AHRI. Their industry knowledge and expertise support AHRI’s many programs. And while AHRI provides a single voice for the industry, it represents hundreds of member companies, each with its own history. Below are the first in a series of profiles of AHRI member companies highlighting the role each of them play in supporting the industry and truly making life better. Member companies interested in completing a profile for this series should contact Carrie Johnson at CJohnson@ahrinet.org.

 


 

Weil-McLain (September 2016)

Weil-McLain marks its 135th anniversary this year. What do you consider to be Weil-McLain’s most impressive, over-arching accomplishment since your start in 1881? (e.g., geographical expansion, energy efficiency efforts, reputation of reliability, etc.)

Our most impressive accomplishment over the last 135 years has to be maintaining our legacy as cast-iron pioneers while investing heavily in high-efficiency technology and channel support capabilities to offer our customers a full range of products and solutions. Just this past year, we introduced our most advanced high-efficiency condensing boiler, the 95-96.5 percent AFUE Evergreen®. The Evergreen has become a contractor favorite and is now an award-winning product, earning The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News’ 2016 Dealer Design Gold Award in the HVAC Light Commercial category. We also recently enhanced our line of popular SlimFit® high-efficiency condensing gas boilers with improved controls, communication, and usability.

Some companies with as long a history as Weil-McLain struggle to adapt to a changing market. How do you keep from getting complacent? What are some of the ways you stay abreast of evolving market forces?

Weil-McLain’s strategy for evolving with the market has three main elements.

The first is continuing to improve the basic cost/quality delivery equation for our customers. That ranges from the product itself and the value it provides to end users and channel partners, as well as the broader customer experience.

The second is a focused effort around evolving channel relationships to provide direct, positive results with contractors and end-users. That includes utilizing the company’s marketing analytics capabilities, technical expertise, and application knowledge in ways that directly benefit homeowners, building/facility managers, and, of course, contractors.

We know the contractor has a tremendous influence over the sale and support of these products. Through the company’s School of Better Heating Program, and through a partnership with North American Technician Excellence (NATE), Weil-McLain is committed to building on its position as a knowledge leader within the industry. This means not only having the answers to key questions, but also delivering information to the right person at the right time in just the way they need it.

For example, many of our contracting partners are small, family-owned, multi-generational businesses. The successor generation, in a lot of cases, may communicate in differently than the predecessor generation. As a result, Weil-McLain strives to facilitate all forms of communication, from smartphones to PDF downloads. If that partner wants a voice on the phone, a text on their smartphone, or to download a pdf, Weil-McLain makes it easy for that to happen.

And the third area is on the product level, built around technology and innovation.

Throughout the 20th century, Weil-McLain grew to be the largest U.S. manufacturer of cast iron boilers and a leader in the hydronic industry. Our Michigan City, Indiana location continues its cast iron foundry operations and houses a state-of-the-art laboratory and testing facilities alongside an engineering and development center. In 2005, Weil-McLain opened a second manufacturing and training location in Eden, North Carolina and a distribution center on the East Coast. In 2012, Weil-McLain opened an administrative office in Burr Ridge, Illinois.

Weil-McLain has had significant milestones over the years. We developed the first “wet base” boiler that eliminated the need for a separate base and combustion chamber. We introduced the first commercial boiler to be offered with factory-assembled sections. We also manufactured the first ultraviolet control system for an atmospheric gas commercial boiler. In addition, we were the first company to factory “fire test” package residential boilers.

Click the timeline below to learn more about Weil-McLain’s history of innovation:

In 1997, Weil-McLain was the first major U.S. boiler manufacturer to receive the ENERGY STAR “Partner of the Year” Award. Can you tell us about the work you did to earn this recognition?

Weil-McLain has been consistently setting and achieving aggressive engineering and design goals while employing innovative energy efficiency approaches. Our GV® boiler, with 87 percent AFUE, was one of the highest efficiency boilers at the time we received the award. In 1997, we earned this honor for demonstrating a commitment to energy conservation through portfolio-wide efforts.

Can you describe the meaning behind Weil-McLain’s tagline, “Simplified Solutions for our Complex World” and how your company works to live up to this pledge?

The tagline reflects our focus on: (1) understanding the evolving needs of our customers in an increasingly complex, interconnected, fast-paced environment; (2) innovating with new products and services to help our customers solve real problems and making their lives easier; and (3) continuously improving our customer experience and decision-making journeys with best-in-class application knowledge and responsiveness.

What value do you find in your AHRI membership? What is the most significant benefit of AHRI for your business?

AHRI offers a host of benefits to its members, including navigation of the regulatory environment and statistical programs. The institute has been valuable as an impartial advocate for our business and a resource for educational programs, training initiatives, networking opportunities, and research.

Learn more at http://www.weil-mclain.com/.

 


 

 

Cambridge Engineering (August 2016)

As a leader in energy efficient heating and ventilation technologies, what advice do you give building owners about the benefit of installing new HVAC systems?

First, a building owner should identify what is most important to their system design. This could include process/manufacturing exhaust, indoor air quality, safety for employees, thermal comfort, and working conditions during the heat and/or cold seasons in the facility. Second, a building owner should identify what objectives are important with respect to energy efficiency and operational costs. When evaluating total cost of ownership, upfront equipment costs and installation costs are extremely important, but operating costs for building systems far outpace this initial cost. It is also important to consider the timeframe within which the owner can expect to gain a return on an energy efficiency HVAC investment. Superior systems may cost marginally more on the front-end, but result in dramatic long-term value to building owners and operational managers. An owner should also be prepared to answer whether the total life cycle costs are important considerations in choosing the system.


Many employees in your organization reference LEAN leadership as the guiding principle behind your work. Can you tell us about the components of LEAN?

LEAN is a philosophy of continuous improvement. Every product and process within our manufacturing organization can be viewed through the lens of LEAN for continuous improvement. One of the biggest components of LEAN for Cambridge Engineering is recognizing that every member of our team has employee genius that they can share on how to do their daily activities better. By encouraging them to think about what is wasteful in their daily activities, and making changes to eliminate that waste (i.e., continuous improvement), we are actually helping our people grow, and that’s really what matters the most.


What value do you find in your AHRI membership? What is the most significant benefit of AHRI for your business?

One of the biggest benefits of being an AHRI member is the ability to build relationships and network with industry peers at different AHRI events throughout the year. The Annual Meeting is always a great place to meet with those who share a similar interest in improving the HVAC industry while building long-lasting relationships that continue well after the event is over.

Learn more at www.cambridge-eng.com and www.blog.cambridge-eng.com.

 



SEMCO (March 2016)

Please provide our readers with a little background about SEMCO, including the company’s history and the products and services you offer to customers.

SEMCO is a manufacturer of indoor air quality products. Established in 1963, the focus of SEMCO has been to pioneer new products and innovate air transportation and conditioning products for the betterment of our clients. SEMCO started off building ductwork and then branched out into custom air houses, acoustical panels, sound attenuators, energy recovery wheels, and dedicated outside air systems over the first 40 years. Fläkt Woods acquired SEMCO in 2008 and added chilled beams to its manufacturing capability. This increased the range of efforts that SEMCO placed on building indoor air quality and allowed for SEMCO to directly impact room comfort rather than just transporting air or treating ventilation. SEMCO has endeavored to always provide a system approach to building comfort, and to understand the impact its products have on other equipment within a building. Developing the AHR Innovation Award-Winning NEUTON and ASCENDANT products further demonstrate SEMCO's commitment to improved indoor air quality and energy efficiency.


SEMCO received a 2016 AHR Expo Innovation Award in the Indoor Air Quality and Plumbing categories for its ASCENDANT™ Series active desiccant hybrid system and NEUTON controlled chilled pump module, respectively. Tell us what makes these products especially noteworthy.

NEUTON is the industry's first and only smart, plug-and-play proactive condensation control device for active chilled beams. It is a factory-built and pre-tested controlled chilled beam pump module package complete with its own powered integrated direct digital controller, chilled and hot water connections, valves, variable-speed electronically commutated (EC) motor pumps, smart sensors, and other unique features.

ASCENDANT is a conventional cooling, active desiccant hybrid system, performance optimized to deliver and control low dewpoint air while minimizing energy input. A highly efficient system, ASCENDANT delivers low dewpoints (down to 20˚F) while minimizing the tons of cooling input. It operates with 25 to 50 percent less energy cost than conventional refrigeration-based dehumidification systems.


What do you see as the emerging trends and technology in the HVACR and water heating industry?

Indoor air quality is always under scrutiny. ASHRAE continues to amend and improve standards that help building occupants with regards to healthy buildings, but also work to improve the environment though energy savings standards; it can sometimes prove difficult to satisfy both indoor air quality and energy savings. With these two aspects of standards becoming even more complex, innovation is the only means through which we will be able to satisfy the ever evolving requirements.


What value do you find in your AHRI membership? What is the most significant benefit of AHRI for your business?

The biggest benefit of being a part of AHRI is the ability to show customers that our products operate as we state by having the full force of AHRI certification backing our performance. It gives customers confidence in our products. Furthermore, membership allows us to communicate with other manufacturers in the industry to achieve common goals, from responding to regulations to determining a specific direction for the industry that will benefit us as a whole.

Learn more at www.semcohvac.com/.