As a trusted air-conditioning partner to many in the local bus and coach sector, Coachair knew it had the customer and product side of its operations on the right track.
When general manager Anthony O’Donnell joined Coachair Australia a little more than five years ago, he began reinvigorating the HVAC brand’s after sales and service capabilities.
“A big focus and a point of difference for Coachair is the after sales support we can now give our customers,” O’Donnell told ABC.
“The team I’ve accumulated over the past two years is very experienced. Our product was already excellent, and now it’s backed by the right 24/7 support that bus and coach operators need for their HVAC systems.”
In the months before COVID first interrupted the market, Coachair embarked on a journey to rebuild its technical and service departments. Since then, Coachair has accrued a team of four people in the engineering and technical side of Coachair to support and service customers.
This includes O’Donnell as general manager, alongside national business development manager Eddie Furmanczyk, national engineering and technical support manager Ian O’Hara and training manager Mick McKenzie.
Furmanczyk returned to Coachair with more than 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry, complementing O’Donnell’s wealth of knowledge and O’Hara’s HVAC background in the UK.
Now, this fantastic four offer training with HVAC systems for bus and coach customers, either on-site at the operator’s depot or at one of Coachair’s facilities in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.
It’s a far cry for O’Donnell, who only had two technicians each in Melbourne and Sydney to make up the service department when he first came on board with Coachair.
“Since that time, we’ve built service divisions that support each capital city on the east coast of Australia,” he says.
“For example, in Queensland, we have a service manager and six technicians in the local Brisbane area to help us currently undertake a service contract with Brisbane City Council to maintain the HVAC systems on 450 of their vehicles, while NSW is supported by four technicians and a service manager to cover both metro Sydney and country NSW.”
In Victoria, a service manager and three technicians currently service and maintain air-conditioning systems for major operators such as CDC and Ventura while also focusing on regional customer requirements.
The team’s experience means Coachair can now provide solutions for any brand or model air-conditioner customers have, expanding its one-stop-shop outside of just Coachair products.
As an example of Coachair’s current customer focus, McKenzie recently jumped into his ute in Victoria, travelling up to operator Buslines in Lithgow after Buslines came onboard with Coachair. As part of the Coachair package, McKenzie will now travel to all of Buslines’ regional NSW depots, spending days with the team to teach them how to service and maintain their air-conditioners.
“This is a service we offer to any of our customers Australia-wide,” O’Donnell says.
“At Coachair, we believe the real measure of great Australian service is the local support a customer receives, and we aim to measure up every time. So, we might travel to Lithgow for Buslines one week, and then we’ll be in Cessnock for another Buslines depot in the following week.
“Providing that local support where our customers need it is how we ensure that we accommodate their requests.”
The four-staff strong team managing after sales at Coachair has more than 100 years of combined industry knowledge. In the time O’Donnell has spent assembling his dream team, he has also set up a sub-contractor dealer network and ensured that spare parts has received the love and dedication it deserves.
The group will continue selling and servicing the latest Coachair HVAC range. After recently visiting the factory in China to see new prototype units, Coachair’s range is set to get more sustainable than ever before.
“The new prototype being developed now has a physical case made out of carbon neutral material, not fibreglass,” O’Donnell says.
“It’s in the trial stage now and will be developed and offered to the local market in the near future.”
This exciting new model will accompany Coachair’s existing range, including the flagship XT suite of models.
The latest evolution of the XT range is the XT44, released this year, which O’Donnell says features the largest capacity in heating and cooling in the local air-conditioning market.
“The XT44 has been really well accepted by customers,” he says.
“Major customers like CDC Australia have transitioned from our XT353 model to the XT44, which is also set to be delivered on more CDC buses in future.”
The XT44 includes Coachair’s Climate Control System, a staple of Coachair’s diesel unit range. O’Donnell says parts have been produced on new models that are still interchangeable with older units from 15 years ago to make life easier for customers.
In the electric space, O’Donnell says the EX32 unit continues to be sold to major operators throughout Australia and has one of the highest capacities and lightest weights for an electric unit on the market.
“We’re currently fulfilling a very large BCI order for WA operators,” he says.
“We’ve had two electric mining buses featuring Coachair products onboard for the past six months, one in the Pilbara and one south near Bunbury, and those buses haven’t had a day off the road due to performance problems.”
This reliability that the brand is recognised for remains a central part of its growth strategy.
“Functionally, our models have been perfect – the climate control system and electronic parts for them are made locally in Australia and are very cost effective for the nation’s operators,” O’Donnell says.
“For our current product range, and any future innovations, we’ll continue to maintain our focus on spare parts and servicing to deliver on our Through Life Support commitment.
“Moving forward, where we have built service departments in Australia, we want to bolster the spare parts side. We have plans in place to continue growing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.”
Although innovation is undoubtedly a core part of Coachair’s capabilities, it’s clear Coachair’s commitment to service will be on full display in the years to come as its exciting new arrivals begin to arrive on Australian shores.