By Greg McMillan
By daring to be different, The Airon Group of Companies has forged important partnerships and made a name for itself as a building industry innovation leader.
The Burlington, Ontario-based firm, which provides services to engage facility managers, builders and consultants in the Building Automation Systems (BAS) process, embraces technological advances and the challenges they bring with them – ensuring that Airon maintains an advantage over its competitors.
“Timing is very important,” says Airon President Richard Gorka. “We don’t want to be too far ahead of our industry’s adoption of future technological advancements, but worse, we don’t want to fall behind.”
To that end, Airon consists of unconventional thinkers who assist its partners with difficult problems and invigorate their organizations by going beyond conventional roles and defying traditional ways of thinking.
“The majority of construction and related services work in Canada is procured through the ‘bid and spec’ pricing model,” Gorka says. “This type of procurement model ensures that the lowest bid most often wins the project. In this business environment the emphasis on achieving lowest costs is often placed ahead of highest quality.
“However, as an industry innovation leader, Airon can only deliver on the highest quality, and to compete we must work towards executing in the most efficient manner. Since construction requires the collaborate efforts of many different expert trades, we must seek out partnerships with other trades who look to execute on a high quality, high efficiency model.
“As this business model is one of our founding principals, we have many examples of projects executed through high quality trade partnerships.”
In that vein, Gorka cited several recent Airon projects:
Airon believes that in an environment of continuous change , it’s never business as usual; that an organization needs to be nimble because technological advances continue to define its business. So Airon’s services engage builders and consultants in the BAS process. By partnering with facility managers, builders, consultants and product suppliers, Airon discovers how to develop innovative solutions for building challenges and generate innovative strategies for long-term positive results.
“Since founding our company 20 years ago, our industry evolved enormously, based mostly on technological advancements,” says Gorka. “Not one element of our business is the way it was. We have gone from typewriters to tablets, from relays to integrated functional devices, from CB radios to iPhones.”
Along the way, he says, the company continued to grow, and needed stronger leadership with distinct skill sets.
“As as a result, I developed two minority partnerships – one with Reid Hutchinson in our HVAC service company and one with Gezim Berisha in our HVAC control company,” he explains. “We developed an extremely talented team of HVAC technicians, all well experienced and trained on both the existing and emerging technologies that exist in our industry.”
Additionally, he said, Airon assembled an expert team of licensed electrical technicians with advanced electronics’ skills to efficiently and accurately install increasingly sophisticated building automation systems.
“And we developed an expert team of designers and programmers that are made up of mechanical and computer science technologists and engineers.” he says. “This team is continually testing, adopting and implementing the latest advanced technological applications in our industry.
“And perhaps least recognized, we developed an expert team of sales professionals, managers and administrators that, without a doubt, are the glue that holds the operation together.”
There are many wide-ranging testimonials to Airon’s professional expertise.
“Our current clients are thrilled with our advanced services,” says Gorka. “They have observed an almost instant reduction in both energy and facility management costs. “Through ongoing mini-seminars, trade shows and face-to-face interactions with the general industry public, the interest has been very positive. We are negotiating more work based on energy management and associated sustainability than ever before.”
Ange Bruni, former Manager, Facilities Management Services at the Welland Campus of Niagara College, echoed those words.
“Airon’s flexibility and creativity is a highly desirable feature in today’s challenging world of technology and, from my experience, this has been a missing element in relation to the larger corporations,” Bruni says. “It is those very characteristics that allowed Airon to successfully create a systematic approach to achieve the requested innovated results.”
Looking ahead, Gorka foresees a bright future for Airon.
“Our technological management is better than ever, our teams are working well together and we are well ahead of our competitors,” he says, “in delivering the next major change to affect the mechanical services industry: A shift from Reactive service to Proactive service.”
He explained that, in the Reactive service model, a problem or equipment failure remains unnoticed until it is discovered via human intervention, such as an uncomfortable tenant or an observant service technician on a routine preventative maintenance check.
“In this model serious energy-wasting problems can go unnoticed for many weeks, and in some cases the problem may never be discovered at all,” Gorka says. “In the Proactive model, technology continually monitors all the major building systems and reports a problem immediately as it occurs in real time via email to concerned parties.”
“We have been working on an effective Proactive service model for several years, and through Airon’s exclusive ANT Technologies™ we have a highly advanced real time Proactive reporting suite of software tools.
“Many of our clients are currently using ANT Technologies™ and, as we roll out the next phase of software tools we expect that ANT Technologies™ will provide us a major differentiator in the market.”
Another striking example of how Airon dares to be different – again and again and again.
As an Authorized Tridium™ Developer, Airon has partnered with Tridium™ to develop specific applications that will advance existing technology. New solutions that will better serve your needs. Proven solutions are then licensed by Tridium™ and shared with other Integrators forming the technological building blocks of the future, today.
Airon has established a research and development partnership with Brock University, and is working with a team of computer science engineers to advance energy analytics and fault detection solutions that will continually monitor energy use in facilities and immediately diagnose environmental and energy-wasting problems in facilities and forward reports as they occur.
Airon has also partnered with Humber College in creating a specialized lab and teaching courses to arm the students with the BAS basics needed to enter the industry.