Valley Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Ltd.: Maritime Heating and Cooling Specialists

Valley Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Ltd. (Valley) is the largest privately owned heating and refrigeration contractor in the Canadian Maritimes. Valley first opened its doors in 1974, when brothers Peter and George Watson moved back home to Jacksonville, New Brunswick.

“One went north, one went south repairing appliances and furnaces and commercial refrigeration systems,” says John MacInnis, operations manager for Valley. The business remained small for the next 15 years until the brothers and a few other technicians landed a large contract with a line of grocery stores.

Valley landed this first contract with Sobey’s, the nationwide grocery giant, in the late ’80s. Breaking into large commercial contracts was a huge boost for business and Valley has continued to grow since, now performing installation and service for Loblaw’s, Circle K, Shoppers Drug Mart, Tim Hortons and Costco. Valley’s headquarters is located in Jacksonville, while the company’s four workshops are spread across the region. This allows the Valley team to service all areas in New Brunswick and complete projects in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The Valley Value

The company specializes in commercial and residential heating, cooling and refrigeration services with a team that is constantly evolving to serve a broad and perpetually changing market. The staple of Valley’s business, however, is the grocery store and restaurant industry.

Valley employs a team of around 60 refrigeration specialists, electricians and office staff. Each of these employees shares a dedication to courteous, knowledgeable service and quality installation. To ensure the utmost comfort of its clients, Valley offers 24-hour support service every day of the week. The entire management staff at Valley holds trade qualifications in refrigeration and all of the managers are experienced in the field.

“We have the best refrigeration mechanics east of Toronto, hands down,” says MacInnis. A few years ago Valley began hiring its own staff of electricians. While many heating and cooling contractors subcontract out electrical work, which raises costs for both the contractor and the client, Valley opts not to. The team is able to pass these savings along to its customers, many of whom are on a return basis.

“We just finished work on a new Sobey’s store in Prince Edward Island,” exclaims MacInnis. The company completed all aspects of the store’s refrigeration, which included coolers, freezers, delis, fixtures, heat, reclaim, air conditioning start up and even alarms. As far as installation goes, with larger chain stores Valley installs whatever products the retailer purchases. However, on smaller projects the company relies on established suppliers for quality and attractive pricing to keep bids low.

Both projects large and small produce work, and an economic boom has been boosting business in the province over the past year. And, according to MacInnis, Valley has been reaping the benefits. “We’re putting bids together all the time,” he explains. Business is so good that the staff can hardly keep up, so the company is expanding. “We built a website in 2011 specifically to recruit employees,” says MacInnis. The site seems to be working, as the company has attracted technicians from all over Canada and even a new hire from Germany.

Valley is a non-union company, and MacInnis says, “We have all long-term employees. When we hire someone, we want them to spend the rest of their career with us.” All of Valley’s employees employ a broad wealth of knowledge in the industry. In order to maintain Valley’s expertise, the staff receives regular intense training, and the company as a whole is constantly keeping all of its employees up-to-date on the newest technologies and best practices. One step that the company has taken utilizes the ever-so-popular Blackberry, where technicians work collaboratively via cell phone if trouble on site arises.

High-tech Refrigeration

The ever-changing technology of today keeps the Valley team on its toes. “It’s really fun,” says MacInnis. “We’re always trying to keep up.” According to MacInnis, the company regularly sends technicians to trade shows and conferences to check out the latest systems. “Compared to the systems that the Watson brothers started with in the ’70s, the technology is amazing,” he says. “Everyone is going green, and the energy efficiency of some of these systems is just really cool.”

The company doesn’t rely simply on technology, however. MacInnis and part of the Valley team took a reconnaissance mission down into the northern United States in summer 2012. “We went down to check out a few Target locations,” he explains. “They’re coming here soon, so we wanted to take a look to help us figure out how to price those jobs.” MacInnis says that’s one of the benefits of living on the border. When brands creep over from the United States, Valley is prepared to offer each prospective client a well-researched bid.

The company has established a reputation in the industry for quality and timeliness. Valley is always willing to offer up one of many client references, which cite the business’ prompt, patient and diligent performance. A knowledgeable staff of technicians and managers is available to answer questions along the way, keeping clients in the loop and up-to-date on each project’s process. Valley Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Ltd. serves a broad range of customer needs, and guarantees that even if only one technician is on site, that employee has the support of a team of colleagues and managers with decades of experience.