From its humble beginnings within a spare bedroom in 1983, Grant Edwards, Managing Director of Axair Fans, now oversees a successful distribution business working in partnership with an impressive host of industrial fan manufacturers. What makes Axair Fans successful? Grant would say that innovation and a dedication to customer service lies at the heart of its operations here in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire.
In addition to their original supplier partner, Ecofit, the company works exclusively with a network of reputable fan manufacturers including Rosenberg, Fandis, ETRI, Sodeca, SEAT & Wellington. The strong team of 23 employees advise on the most effective ventilation solutions for their customers, assemble products and overcome any complex technical issue. Given this growth, Managing Director Grant is determined that the company’s expansion will not dilute the high standards that Axair is known for.
Going back to 1983, a twenty something, ambitious, Grant Edwards began working out of his bedroom with no stock. Later Ecofit signed him up as an agent and exclusive distributor in the UK. This September, Ecofit celebrate their own 40th anniversary in business which Axair has been cordially invited to attend.
Axair supply industrial fans into a wide range of market places and applications with one common goal for most systems; to improve air movement efficiency and positively impact indoor air quality.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) becomes ever more important in the built environment and its effects on productivity and learning become more apparent. The development of EC motors from Rosenberg and Ecofit allows control and instant response to changes in room environments. By linking EC motors to sensors, levels of humidity CO2 etc. can be continuously controlled. Turning down the motor performance in times of low demand can result in tremendous energy savings for the consumer.
The company’s industrial grouping of Sodeca and SEAT allows Axair Fans to serve a different market, dealing with mid-range industrial applications. Increasingly Axair are supplying to the “Smoke ventilation” market and able to offer Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) studies for car park ventilation projects. SEAT offers a large range of polypropylene fans for corrosive fume extraction. Laboratories including those within pharmaceutical, university and schools, all have fume cupboards requiring ventilation to the atmosphere. Axair Fans are able to look after this niche sector as part of their diverse offering and attend regular regional shows to network with those operating in the market place.
Availability of suitably qualified personnel is a perennial problem yet only rarely do Axair employ from a direct competitor. For new members to the Axair group, a comprehensive in-house training course delivered by their long standing team of experienced engineers and colleagues allows our sales force to offer well-judged technical advice whilst visiting clients. The average length of service for the employees is currently around ten years highlighting the strength of the companies culture and strong employee morale. This is reinforced with third party training whenever necessary and frequent visits to their principal suppliers in Europe keeps the training and knowledge at the highest level. Being members of various industry committees such as FETA and the FMA, the company’s employees regularly sit on regional and national meetings to ensure that the company is kept abreast of any changes in legislation and market developments.
With National apprenticeship campaigns ringing in our ears pushing for businesses to take on apprentices within the local community, Axair has recently employed an apprentice to work with the business and earn while they learn. Reinforcing the importance of vocational learning while doing a real job working with experienced engineers and sales professionals makes a significant contribution to the National scheme. Giving an opportunity to local people who have chosen not to go on to university but to focus on their careers in an alternative route is something Axair is proud of. It is likely that further apprentice recruitment will be offered within the administration & finance department. Whilst offering real world experience at Axair fans the apprentices are continuing to attend their college courses for formal training as they work towards a qualification. Regarding external training, one of the companies long term objectives is to support the education of future engineers. By offering CIBSE approved continuing professional development (CPD) seminars, in Mechanical Smoke Control, Extract Pressurisation and an Introduction to Fume Extraction systems, to the mechanical and electrical engineers and consultants, Axair educate and entertain the industry to ensure they remain up to date on current legislation and standards affecting the market place. This is done on a weekly basis across the UK and ad hoc requests for a seminar are encouraged.
As an importer of most of the products in the Axair portfolio, the issue of BREXIT is an elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. The fall in the exchange rate was predictable and regrettably following a four year period of no external price increases we have had to increase our prices to reflect this. Many of our customers are exporting their products and we think that our industry will recover on the back of exports but anticipate that it may be a difficult 2-3 years before a more stable pattern emerges. Having said that, Axair, who are officially a carbon zero company, advise that it is its relationships with its manufacturers that offer clients a greater flexibility, with engineers able to offer tailor made solutions to meet customer needs quite often with short lead times.
Axair Fans are capable of supplying large volumes to big manufacturers based here in the UK, however, they also have fans and ventilation equipment that serve niche markets. What does the future hold for the company? Focusing on the organic growth that the company has experienced coupled with the ability to maintain that innovative edge due to good relationship with suppliers and customers is the main strategy.