Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Air-conditioning company expands into Kingston

Published:Sunday | January 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Patrick Walker, CEO of ComfortSystems Limited, which expanded into Kingston earlier this month, says he plans to develop an operating base in the capital on lands purchased at Osbourne Road.

The complex will house offices and warehouse space for ComfortSystems, which is in the business of trading air-conditioning equipment, parts and energy-saving products.

To date, some $10 million has been spent on renovation and expansion of a building which sits on the 12,000-square foot property, said Walker, who did not disclose the acquisition price for the land.

"The intention is to create a multistorey office complex. We expect that within another four to five years that should be a reality," he said.

ComfortSystems currently occupies the building, which was expanded from 3,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet at the 9 Osbourne Road property. It also has sales offices at Kerr Crescent in Montego Bay and Main Street in Ocho Rios.

Walker is identical twin to Perry Walker, both of whom once ran the air-conditioning business Tropicool, through Tropical Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Company Limited. However, Patrick now says they are more comfortable operating their own businesses.

"There is no feud. The personal relationship is still intact," he said.

ComfortSystems was incorporated in 2000, but the business launched operations in 2006.

Walker said air conditioning has been a family business for more than two decades, but ComfortSystems Limited has allowed him to raise his own masthead.

The company's sales are in the ballpark of $100 million annually, he said, with 75 per cent of revenue from the air- conditioning segment, and the remainder from energy-saving products.

"In 2006, we started using the name ComfortSystems, which reflects what we are all about, which is air conditioning and refrigeration and equipment, which offers comfort.

"Our business is AC equipment and supplies and energy-saving supplies. We are the home of the Duralite energy-saving bulb, for which the company is exclusive distributor."

The company is also owner of the Duralite brand. The bulb is manufactured in China to Comfort Systems' specifications. It also owns the Windchill brand of AC units, whose production has also been outsourced to China.

The company, which previously had its main base in Montego Bay, decided to make Kingston its new headquarters, and so opted to purchase property for its new home. Walker sees it as his 're-entry' to Kingston, from where he operated at Tropicool.

"Buying or leasing were the options. We favoured the location and wanted to establish some permanency," he said.

"The asking price for the land was in the region of $23 million. We did not pay that price; we got a good deal," the businessman said.

"We spent in the region of $10 million on renovations. We added on the original building and renovated part of the original structure."

The company's energy products are sourced from both China and the United States and are primarily distributed through supermarket and pharmacies, locally, with plans to push sales for this segment within the hotel sector.

"We were one of the first set of people to enter energy-saving lamps in a significant way," Walker said.

He considers ComfortSystems' principal competitors to be Appliance Traders Limited and Tropicool.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com