AIR-CON: Lou-air expands

By: Amie Hickland

Queensland supplier Lou-Air has expanded their base after decades in the same premesis

AIR-CON: Lou-air expands
Sevan Arakelian services an air-conditioning unit on a Transdev bus

Heating may be the complete opposite of air-conditioning, but it’s what one Queensland air-conditioning supplier is focusing on.

Lewis Arakelian, founder of Lou-Air Australia, has decades of experience in air-conditioning but says his focus on the heating aspect of air-conditioning units is what sets him apart from the rest.

A mechanical plumber by trade, Arakelian specialised in designing and constructing HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) systems, industrial boilers and steam and high temperature hot water heating for various industrial and commercial developments.

This experience led him to understand the importance of heating in the cooling environment.

The Gold Coast supplier is one of the few independent air-conditioning suppliers around today, and Arakelian says his expertise and experience are what have kept him in the game.

Lou-Air’s value on face-to-face business as well as focus on aftercare and maintenance also set them apart from competitors.

The units

Lou-Air specialises in creating, fixing and retrofitting air-conditioning units.

Lou-Air’s units are well engineered to maintain cabin temperatures at any set point within half a degree — a key point largely due to the design of the heating system.

"Our design has other units wanting," Arakelian explains.

The units have a British thermal unit (BTU) cooling capacity of 115,000BTU and heating capacity of 140,000BTU and produce 7,200m3 per hour of airflow — figures well above the average of other mainstream units.

The highly competitive unit prices are industry defining and customer-friendly, which include fitting and the development of a special climate control operation which is easy for drivers to use and understand.

Lou-Air is also a specialist in retrofitting units, and boasts the ability to fix any brand of unit.

"We have parts for any type of air-conditioner," Arakelian says.

This is crucial to the business as many larger suppliers tend to contract out aftercare and maintenance work.

Arakelian has managed to build the trust of companies large and small over the years to make him the first port of call for any issues.

Retrofitting units makes up a large part of the company’s core business.

"I think we’re the only air-conditioning company here that retrofits units," Arakelian says.

"We can do anything here, really."

One operator who has undertaken these services is Valley Coaches, based in Biloela, central Queensland.

Owner John Dionysius recently chose to retrofit an air-conditioning unit into a 57-seat Custom Coach earlier this year.

"Apart from having no air-conditioning, it was a good solid reliable bus, so the decision was made to retrofit new air-conditioning," he says.

"A notable feature of this Lou-Air unit is the quick cool down time of the cabin space when it is initially switched on. This is a great benefit when returning to a closed up coach," Dionysius says.

He says the control panel is also very simple and user friendly.

"We are confident that we have purchased a reliable and cost-effective unit that will stand up to our harsh central Queensland climate and road conditions.

"We had previously obtained quotes from other suppliers to fit major brand name units, but these were much dearer and we considered it not viable for this bus."

The workshop

While still based at Molendinar, on the Gold Coast, Lou-Air moved workshops to the Industrial Avenue address about a year ago.

The reason for the move included better workshop facilities and increased security levels.

Arakelian says the new workshop has more space for the work Lou-Air undertakes, and includes a mezzanine level which offers extra storage space, reduces manual handling processes and also allows the mechanics better access to bus air-conditioning units that are rooftop mounted.

The mezzanine level was installed specially for the company to help those working at heights although all the correct harnessing equipment is also present and is just one aspect of Lou-Air’s quality, safety and performance management scheme.

Air-conditioning unit installations and services aren’t just restricted to the workshop, with Lou-Air’s small fleet of service vehicles fully stocked and catering for not only south-east Queensland but stretching interstate.

With new opportunities recently forged as far south as Tasmania, Lou-Air’s goal to service and supply to all of Australia is becoming reality.

This type of hands-on customer service also has a flow-on effect, allowing operators to build a genuine relationship with the mechanics.

"It’s always good with new customers to go and meet them face to face," Lewis Arakelian’s son Sevan says.

The company has many loyal customers, including one of the larger operators in Australia —Transdev.

Lou-Air has been servicing and maintaining the vehicles for Transdev’s Queensland division for about 22 years, with a current fleet size of about 145.

"I pretty much grew up with the Transdev buses," Sevan Arakelian says.

Lou-Air also made the move to showcase their services at the recent bus expo held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Lewis Arakelian says the show gave him the opportunity to meet with existing and potential clients in a face-to-face setting.

"I do want to be in the show every year," he says.

"A major air-conditioning supplier actually took notice at what we were doing at the show and came to see me for expert advice."

Although business is steady, Lou-Air will have to continue with the high level of service to continue to keep its market share.

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