Looking at what has been achieved over the past quarter of a century, it is hard not to be impressed by A-Gas and how rapidly its operations have grown from its beginnings in Bristol, UK, to a dominant force in the refrigerants market, on a global scale.
What started as one man and one fax machine is now, 26 years later, a global corporation present in 12 countries with more than 600 employees worldwide.
The chances are at some point today you will have come into contact with what A-Gas does.
The company’s core business is focused on refrigerants and services used in air conditioning and chilling applications – so the air conditioning in your home, office or car or the supermarket chillers keeping your groceries cool.
Since its inception in 1993, A-Gas has been at the forefront of changes in the refrigerants market, focusing on continuously adapting its product and service offering to meet the ever-changing needs of the industry.
Change is something A-Gas has become adept in over the last 26 years as the company has evolved and expanded across five continents.
gasworld travelled to Bristol, UK to visit the company’s Head Office and sit down with Ken Logan (left), Group Commercial Director, to discuss A-Gas’ evolution, expansion and future.
Logan’s 19 years of service has seen him take on the role of A-Gas UK’s Managing Director, move across the pond and become the first President of A-Gas Americas, and then return to the corporate entity of the A-Gas organisation to his current post.
“Becoming the first president of A-Gas in the USA is one of my greatest achievements,” he highlights.
“In 2012, we bought two companies over there, with different business models, different skill sets and different ways of looking at business.”
“We then had to bring both into the A-Gas family, sharing our values, our commitment to safety and aligning with our strategy for the future.”
In 2018, A-Gas celebrated 25 years in business – a milestone Logan attributes to the company’s culture and values.
“An entrepreneurial approach to business, a unique culture with ‘can-do’ and ‘get up and go’ attitudes have all contributed to the success and growth of the business. That’s what makes A-Gas so special,” he explains.
“When I think back to the early days and the original three sites – Bristol, UK, Cape Town, South Africa and Melbourne, Australia – it is amazing that we have grown to more than 600 people worldwide in 12 countries, across five continents!”
“We are now very much a global company; when we see the emerging opportunity for A-Gas products and services, we mobilise our own resources into the country or region and pick the best entry method for establishing operations on the ground.”
For Logan, the biggest change in the business from 1993 to today is the development and expansion of the company’s environmental services offering.
“In the early days of A-Gas, we would have helped advise and supply customers who were looking for a new product that was more environmentally friendly and then would step back at this point.
“Today, we offer a Total Solutions™ approach, from offering a wide range of products tailored to the customers criteria, to recovering the existing gas and processing it through our unique reclamation technology to bring it back on grade for future use, in some cases negating the need for further virgin production.”
“In the USA, you can turn ‘end of life ODS’ into a carbon credit by permanently destroying them and using the saved emissions as a carbon offset project.”
“The complexity of the business and the services that we offer has changed enormously and I think that feeds back into the ethos of what we do – offering people a bespoke solution to whatever complex lifecycle management issue they may have.”
Expanding into Canada, acquiring VEMAC Services in Singapore and purchasing Arthur Friedrichs Kältemittel in Germany are three significant achievements from A-Gas over the last 12 months.
“At the end of 2018, we opened A-Gas Canada in Toronto, which is showing fantastic growth in its first year. This was a country we had been interested in for many years.”
“Business for our products and the regulatory regime are very similar in Australia and Canada, in fact they are probably the closest two in the world, despite very different ambient temperatures.”
“This provided an opportunity for our Managing Director of A-Gas Australia, who had a wealth of experience of the business and the market environment, to take the best practice we had built in Australia and implement this into the Canadian market.”
“She left +30 degrees at take-off and landed in -30 degrees in Toronto, now that’s commitment!”
“That is something we do a lot of at A-Gas, we look to provide new opportunities and we encourage our people to take on new challenges within the business to help them gain more experience of cultures, business environments, customers and, of course, themselves.”
“We combine the experiences and learnings from our existing territories and move these through our people around the world. That is one of the reasons I went to live in the US for three years.”
According to Logan, the Middle East, South America and Asia are three areas A-Gas would like to expand further into.
“If you look on a map, those are areas with the least coverage from us. We don’t currently have anything in South America or the ME, Asia is an area were gaining ground in but could do more.”
In the last 26 years, A-Gas has contributed to improvements in living conditions, food supply and safety, medical science, healthcare, transport and travel, technological advances, engineering breakthroughs and scientific discovery.
The company has a proud track record of being enterprising, bold and agile, driven by its passionate and hard-working team over many years.
So, what’s next?
“I suspect there will be one or two more acquisitions during the near term,” Logan smiles, “Perhaps one that’s a little different to our main business as well. But that’s all I can say, for now!”
“We want to grow our business, there’s no question about that, and we aim to be even more successful over the next 25 years compared to the last.”