ACR Journal

ACR industry Leanne Gill is operations manager at Finn Geotherm, an award-winning Norfolk-based heat pump installer which was established in 2006. She explains how chance led her into the ACR industry and, almost 15 years later, why she still loves her job. wanted to run their hands under the tap check the water was actually hot! We did a lot of county shows in the early days and spent a long time trying to explain to people what this ‘magic box’ actually did. Joining Finn Geotherm was a massive learning curve for me, but I was confident in the potential of heat pumps and I believed David’s vision for Finn Geotherm. I visited Finland to see Lämpöässä’s operations and trusted this long-established brand, which had a great track record. If you can heat a home using a heat pump in Finnish winters, you can heat anything anywhere! We still install Lämpöässä systems today. An evolving industry As the industry evolved and Finn Geotherm grew, I’ve had to tackle more regulations and get to grips with managing increasingly complex projects. There was no MCS or RECC initially so we’ve had to follow new regulatory bodies as they have come in and adapt our business accordingly. It’s amazing when I look back at the 6kW systems we started installing in the early days at Finn Geotherm compared to our latest 630kW heat pump project, more than 1000 installations later. Current role My current role as operations manager includes ordering and managing raw materials, equipment and labour for every one of Finn Geotherm’s installation projects. I also look after the vast majority of personnel admin for the company, as well as being responsible for managing all the required accreditations including MCS and the company’s quality management system. With ongoing changes to payroll, customs declarations, health and safety regulations, it’s essential I keep the company up to date. I completed my AAT Level 2 qualification in accounting in 2016. Finn Geotherm continues to expand, with 2021 set to be our most successful to date. We are currently undertaking 21 large scale heat pump projects in the public sector using some of the biggest capacity systems in Europe, in addition to the day-to-day commercial and domestic installations. With an extensive amount of planning needed to keep everything moving along nicely, I am hoping to devote more time to pre-planning each project and be able to delegate other aspects of my role to new colleagues joining the business. I love this job. No day is the same. Every project is unique and has different requirements. We’re genuinely making a difference to people’s lives and, at the same time, we’re doing our bit to help the environment which is crucial right now. The First jobs When I left school at 16, I went straight into a hairdressing apprenticeship. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – I’d always fancied being an environmental health officer, but the opportunity to earn a wage and continue studying appealed to me so I took the hairdressing job and became qualified. I decided I wanted a change and took an admin job for a food producer. It was good (I even met my husband there!) but with an hour’s commute each way, it just wasn’t suitable after the birth of my daughter in 2006. I wanted to be closer to home and found a job nearby with a tree surgery company, who unfortunately went into administration shortly after I joined. Operating on the same farm was a new heat pump company – Finn Geotherm – set up a year earlier by David Alston. David was importing and installing heat pumps from Lämpöässä in Finland, having spotted a gap in the market (David is half Finnish and an engineering graduate). David was working out of a container unit in the scaffolding barn and had more work than he could deal with. I joined him in 2007 to answer the phone and do all the admin side of things while he installed the heat pumps. At the time, I had no idea what heat pumps were. I’d never heard of them, but having learned more about them, I asked David to install one in my home – a 1970s bungalow which had no heating. The systems did sound a bit too good to be true but I soon saw for myself exactly how well they worked. We had no showroom for Finn Geotherm at the time and so used my house to show prospective customers a working system. They always February 2022 | March 2022 Volume 8 No.2 36 WOMEN IN ACR

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