20 Questions with Dave Pearson, President and General Ganager of Airwell-Fedders

Originally published: 03.01.10 by Terry Tanker


Recently, Publisher Terry Tanker caught up with a very busy Dave Pearson, President and General Manager of Airwell-Fedders. They discussed changes underway at the international company as it emerges from bankruptcy.

 

1. The last time you yelled at the TV, what were you watching?

CNN.

2. What’s one thing you wish you would have said yes to?

Crewing on a private yacht in the Caribbean

3. Like many executives you travel a lot — and often internationally. What’s the longest period you’ve spent in a hotel?

Three months. I stayed in one for eight months once, but traveled home on weekends.

4. When you’re on the road, what do you really miss?

Raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

5. My dad always said...

Make sure you have a trade to fall back on.

6. What’s the best lesson a mentor ever taught you?

Always listen, and then listen again.

7. Complete this sentence: If I ruled the world, the first thing I would do is...?

Only allow leisure or vacation travelers to fly on the weekends.

8. Where did you get your start in this industry?

I started in the industry as a ductwork installer in South Florida.

9. Why did you take this job?

I joined the company 11 years ago, and I took my current position with the knowledge it would be a very big challenge, but that was the main reason it was so attractive to me. There was also a community of customers I wanted to serve.

10. Since you’re bringing Airwell-Fedders out of bankruptcy, it seems like you’re starting a new company. Will the new Airwell-Fedders resemble the old company?

No. We will be focusing on the distributor/contractor community. We will not be a “big box” store provider as in the past.

11. What are the significant management challenges you face?

Two biggest challenges are maintaining profitability in a challenging economy while resurrecting a company out of bankruptcy and an acquisition.

12. What aspect of management is the most satisfying to you?

The most satisfying part of management is watching colleagues mature and take on increasing responsibilities and challenges.

13. What’s the breadth of the product line you will be marketing under the Airwell-Fedders brand?

Currently, we have entry-level residential products, room air, typical split systems, furnaces, coils, and package units. Since Airwell currently makes commercial and industrial units, we will introduce those into the U.S. market.

14. Who is Airwell, and why did they purchase Fedders?

Airwell is a global air conditioning manufacturer, primarily in Europe. They recognized that the U.S. is the second largest market and used the Fedders opportunity to enter.

15. Why did you decide to stick with the Fedders name as the brand for this market? You must have had an opportunity to rebrand the company.

Fedders has a long history, particularly in the Northeast. Consumers still recognize the brand, because of the several million window units that are in the market. It would be foolish to throw that away.

16. Does Airwell intend to be a major player in the hvacr industry?

Yes. Airwell already is a major player in Europe. We are growing fast in China and are picking up momentum in the U.S. and South America.

17. How will you build — or rebuild — the Fedders relationship with hvacr contractors?

We are dedicated to helping our customer base. That’s why we have developed our professional services program. We have teamed up with companies that are the leading experts in their fields such as in accounting, insurance, legal, retirement, I.T., payroll, etc. By offering these services to our customers, we feel that we can help them through the tough economic conditions right now, and make them stronger businesses when this current crisis is over.

18. You held a national distributor meeting last fall. How was Airwell-Fedders received by this group?

I think we were well received. They see our vision becoming a reality, our shipping time is short, our customer service is excellent and our warranty rate is very low. And, we are methodically introducing new products that fit the needs of the market.

19. So, distributors have been supportive of your new mission and vision for the company?

It was slow at first; everyone is a little apprehensive to do business with a company emerging from bankruptcy and when the owner is overseas. But they find that we have a customer mindset and a willingness to get involved with their business and help.

20. With recent signs that the economy is finally starting to move, how do you see the growth and opportunities for the industry over the next few years?

I think the industry will move forward with caution, inventories will be held closer, efficiencies will increase and refrigerant will change in the next few years. The basic need for comfort will always be there. As an industry we need to find new ways to serve those needs and be on the leading edge of technology.


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