How did you get involved in the industry?

I joined the chemical industry nearly 25 years ago, after leaving the shipping industry where I was a cargo superintendent, responsible for the layout of the ships for cargo. Which was great, because it meant I travelled the world. Interestingly enough, I was able to go to places like Iraq, Iran, and Syria which of course you would never go to these days. They were beautiful with lovely people and a lot to see. I was involved in the manufacturing and the distribution of different products for various industries including industrial, pharmaceutical, food, and construction – a huge variety. I did that for a long time. About seven years ago Climalife, or IDS Refrigeration, advertised for the position of managing director. 150 people applied and I got the job. I’ve not looked back; it’s been absolutely fantastic.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I’ve been really pleased with the significant growth that’s been achieved at Climalife since taking over the helm. It’s never been an easy journey but I think we’re a nice company, we know what we’re doing and the industry has received our offerings warmly. On a more personal level, I’m proud to see how my three children have grown in their lives. They’re doing really well and that really inspires me to keep on improving on a personal and business level.

What’s the best aspect of the industry? I’ve seen a lot of change in regulation. There’s been a lot of innovation, and I

26 November 2017

think this will continue for many years to come. From our perspective, it keeps us very fresh as we continue to work with customers and bring new solutions and products to the market.

The other aspect, and it’s something I’ve always been passionate about, is the planet and the environment and today, with a lot of the new technologies we’re bringing to the market, I can proudly say that I’m leading a company which is helping to contribute to a better and safer environment.

Is there anything the industry could do better?

My customers get frustrated when they hear of companies or engineers who are operating without F-Gas qualifications. This is very irritating, because obviously everyone is paying a lot of money to get the qualification and make sure they do the right thing.

But I have to say that more recently, certainly over the last six months or so, I hear a lot less of that. I think that in this industry, everyone knows one another and looks after one another and I think there are a lot of really good engineers out there and a whole rack of new products coming to the market. It’s the better companies and the better engineers and those who are F-Gas qualified – these are the ones who are getting on and doing it. The other companies who are just in it for the moment, they’re putting stuff in and not really knowing where the next job is coming from and I think these companies are falling by the wayside. Year on year there are more and more F-gas certified and qualified companies, and that’s really

Managing director of Climalife.

Harper good for the industry.

What do you think is the biggest challenge ahead for the industry? It has to be the successful

implementation of the F-Gas regulations. This year has been unprecedented in terms of seeing significant price increases on refrigerants, which is a direct result of the industry now having to work to a strict quota system. The industry has never had to work with this kind of regulation and it’s going to be tough. We’ve seen a huge shift away from R404A over recent months. The industry, however, should have placed more emphasis on this switch away much sooner because today’s producers are struggling to keep up with demand. The next challenge for me is in the air-conditioning sector. There isn’t enough equipment available in the market to replace systems which are currently running on R410A. Next year, there will probably be the same demand for R410A in the market place, but the industry will be working with a 32% reduction in quota.

What should we do to educate end-users?

We do a lot to inform the industry through marketing, email campaigns, and roadshows. We do a lot of work. But our customers are the wholesalers and they’re the installers and contractors, and we mostly don’t have that exposure to the end-users, the contractors’ or installers’ customers.

I know the majority of our customers are trying to talk to end-users but many are restricted in budgets and this year

has been a revelation to them, because the contractor is putting in his bill and for some refrigerants its 800% more. I think the contractor or installer has to try to get them to understand what’s going on.

From a commercial refrigeration point of view, there are a lot of companies, such as the supermarkets, who know exactly what they need to do and have a five, 10 or 15 year plan, but there are a lot out there who really don’t know what is around the corner.

How to encourage younger people in the industry?

It’s really great to see incentives such as SkillFRIDGE and it’s important that the industry continues these initiatives. We deal with a lot of big contractors and they have a lot of apprenticeships, bring a lot of young people through, training them to a very high standard. I think generally speaking there is a lack of engineers in the industry and for me, there has to be more incentive to do apprenticeships. They are the best way to learn the ropes. You need hands-on, day-to-day practical experience. I would say to anyone joining is that whilst this is a very technical and hard- working industry, everyone is very open, very honest, always willing to help and know how to have a good time. You can’t buy that, it’s really important.


Rugby is my passion. I still play in North Somerset for Yatton Rugby Club. I also love sailing and I have my own boat, a Laser, which I race. Where I can I try to get in some yacht racing as well.

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