ACR Journal

28 ADVERTORIAL From humble beginnings in 2003 (initially run from the founder's kitchen table with first-year sales of just £600k), Cool Designs Ltd has grown into a £21m turnover business with a reputation as one of the country's largest and most respected independent air conditioning suppliers. Humble Beginnings to National Distributor: CDL celebrates 20 years In the past 20 years, CDL has expanded from supplying equipment locally in the North East to being a national distributor supporting customers across the UK. In this time, the company’s initial team has expanded to 42 employees. The original founders shared local connections: Darrel Birkett (Managing Director) and Lee Neale (now branch manager in Gateshead) were friends at school and both worked at Greenham Air Conditioning. Michelle Lawson (now focussed on the VRF side) was CDL's first employee, and Ray Steel (now branch manager at Warrington) joined in 2005. Shortly after, Chris Oldroyd joined as the company's first external sales person (now Area Sales Manager responsible for contractor sales in the North East across all products), and was joined by Ally Stubbs (head of logistics in Warrington). All remain with the company today. The approach from the start was to be customer-led. This means listening to what contractors actually want, and not trying a force a solution on them that doesn't meet requirements, just because it's the easy option. It also means protecting customers: CDL positions itself on the customer’s side of the table, for example in discussions with national accounts and manufacturers. Now with three branches, the company’s comprehensive training programme and design support service are focussed on helping customers win projects, and ensuring they have the skills and knowledge to deliver outstanding results for their own clients. “From the beginning, we decided that all new staff must have engineering knowledge. We didn’t want to become just a sales company, but have the knowledge required across the team to understand and support customers in the challenges they face. This has been a key to our success,” says Darrel Birkett, CDL’s md and founder. The range of equipment supplied has grown from the original core offering of Toshiba and Fujitsu splits and VRF to larger applied equipment, such as chillers, heat pumps and air handling units, with the addition of the Carrier and CIAT brands. Today, heat pumps are a major growth area, and the company is gearing up to support the drive towards decarbonisation. A pioneering decarbonisation project by AbbeyMAT school trust in North Yorkshire is using CDL-supplied CIAT heat pumps to help reduce carbon emissions by more than 9,000 tonnes over the lifetime of the scheme, saving £84,000 a year in energy costs. The company worked hand-in-hand with the consultant and schools from the beginning to ensure a successful solution. Hand-in-hand approach From the first day customers learn of a new project, CDL works hand-in-hand with them: Visiting site or their client, discussing requirements and offering suggestions that may not have been considered. Where relevant, it also offers bespoke control solutions to deliver improved energy savings. The whole approach is to support customers and add value from first contact to final completion – and beyond, through ongoing support. February | March 2023 Volume 9 No.2

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