Spring Air Systems
Spring Air Systems is a privately held Canadian company specializing in commercial kitchen ventilation systems. Tom Mills established the business in 1988, beginning as a hood manufacturer. Over the last 27 years, the company has diversified, expanding into a one-stop shop for commercial kitchen ventilation systems.
A small, dedicated staff works diligently to develop and distribute innovative kitchen exhaust and airflow systems, including John Tepes, sales manager for North America. He has been in the industry for 36 years, the last 15 years being with Spring Air Systems; Tepes now oversees distribution with partners in Canada and the United States.
The business fabricates at three facilities; two in Canada and another in the United States. Headquartered in Oakville, Ontario, Spring Air Systems is able to compete in several distinct markets throughout North America.
The company operates exclusively as a manufacturer, although the business offers technical support for end-users and installers in the field. Furthermore, engineering and design are completely in-house, with a few components, such as fans and air units, sourced through a small network of strategic partners.
Spring Air Systems has always stood out as an innovative force in the kitchen ventilation industry. “We have been promoting energy savings since the early 1990s,” says Tepes. Energy saving models continue to play an important role in the company’s product line, which includes a full range of commercial kitchen hoods, extractors, control systems, exhaust fans, fire suppression systems, air supply units, energy rails and integrated exhaust systems.
Customized engineering and flexibility is what sets Spring Air Systems apart from competitors. While the brand’s latest low flow hoods are more than three years old, the company continues to improve designs on an ongoing basis. Products across the line grow in the same way, such as demand and energy control systems.
Tepes explains that these specific products are driven by today’s rising energy costs. Because energy savings is not only limited to large operators, Spring Air Systems has developed a wide product offering to suit most any size operation.
“One of our biggest areas next to research and design is our own proprietary online software,” Tepes adds. “In that aspect, we are on the cutting-edge in our industry. Spring Air Systems has been operating in the cloud since the early 2000s. No other company has the same kind of software we do that allows us to quickly enter the relevant information for a given kitchen project. We come up with a hood and with a few mouse clicks we can get drawings, specs, calculations and the payback for our customer. No one else has a system like this that details as many items.”
Putting such software in the hands of its front line team members allows the company to quickly produce and access all the information and drawings required by customers. “Regardless of where they are, as long as they have an Internet connection, they have access to all their projects and data,” Tepes says proudly.
Today business moves very quickly, and according to Tepes, having the ability to get information out to customers is critical to success. Spring Air Systems has always taken maximum advantage of technology advances to maximize efficiency and speed of providing information.
Spring Air Systems’ proprietary software makes a major difference in turnaround of projects, as well. Details are incorporated in each floorplan, and drawings are available in multiple platforms, from the planning stages on through completion of a contract. Throughout the process, team members can easily access plans, specs and notes.
“When I look up a job in the system, I can see when it sold, all the details, comments, commissioning details, everything to do with that job,” Tepes details. “In one spot we can put our fingers on a project very quickly, analyze any shortcomings and figure out what we can do better in the future.”
Over the years, Spring Air Systems’ products have been put to the test in a number of complex projects. An example is the Ottawa Convention Center, which was started by one of the company’s competitors.
“They couldn’t fit their hoods in the space,” Tepes explains. “So we took over and were able to provide custom engineering to adapt our hoods to work within the site restrictions. Right now we are working with a large beverage company’s new head office in the United States with multiple kitchens based on various continents, all control by the building management system through BACnet. This project will provide great exposure for future projects in the states.”
Hype is growing for the company’s strong product line and diverse design and manufacturing capabilities. While the economic downturn in the United States created a dip in revenue for the business, things are picking up on both sides of the border.
“Now that the economy is on a recovery track, our business is picking up accordingly,” Tepes notes. “We are getting back to the levels we saw before the recession.”
The company also has a presence in international markets and has completed several projects in the Middle East.
“Our focus now is on expanding our sales force,” Tepes says. “We have a lot of potential but we need to find the right people and the right partners to reach that potential. Finding the right people is critical to expansion. It can take a long time to find the right people, but we would rather not have representation in a territory rather than expand into areas with the wrong people. We need representatives who will help us build and maintain our reputation in the industry as our footprint expands. We prefer slow, steady growth that we can manage while satisfying our current customers.”
Building and maintaining relationships has been integral to the company’s success over the years. Looking further into 2015, Tepes and his crew will continue to focus on customer service and satisfaction, making first time clients into repeat customers. In both the United States and Canada, Spring Air Systems remains an innovative business dedicated to bringing customers the cutting-edge in kitchen ventilation technology.