In this edition of the Professional of the month, we highlight the trajectory and leadership of José Luis Urrutia, president of Compañía Climatizadora.
by Duván Chaverra Agudelo
José Luis Urrutia is in love with the air conditioning and refrigeration business. His charisma and his facility to socialize are characteristics that have allowed him to lead Compañía Climatizadora to be one of the most important contractors in Panama and the region. In 2022, the company celebrates 75 years in business and José Luis is the third generation of the family leading the specialized firm.
The president of Climatizadora arrived in Panama at the age of three. He was born in Bloomington, Indiana (USA), the third of four children, when his father was doing his doctorate at Indiana University. His arrival at the company occurred when he was still studying architecture at the University of Panama.
Air Conditioning is a company that was founded by his grandfather in 1947 after spending a year in 1944 at Carrier Syracuse. The company began as the distributor of Carrier for Panama and in a relatively short time made a series of installations in the most important shops and offices in that country.
José Luis is "happily married" and has two children: Sergio and Alana. Among his hobbies is practicing the Olympic pit, which is a form of shooting, "also as a child I always liked sports such as sailing, diving, snowboarding and fishing, some that I still practice today," he says.
Now, let's know little more details about how José Luis fell in love with this industry and what his opinions are about the current state of the market in his country and in Latin America.
ACR: How was your process of joining this industry?
Jose Luis: As a child I spent many summers working in Air Conditioner, I learned a lot from the workers and the company. While studying architecture I worked with an architectural firm, then in a construction company where I stayed until 1995, when the then operations manager, Arquimedez Broce, asked me to get involved in the family business to lead it.
Once inside I took control of the company where we define short, medium and long term goals. These goals have been updated and today we have an excellent team that allows the company to develop several business units that are totally independent but all related.
ACR: What challenges do you face as a professional?
Jose Luis: There will always be challenges, today for example: the supply chain is totally affected where equipment that was previously manufactured in 8 to 10 weeks, can take you up to 47 weeks or more of manufacturing, and then enter the logistics challenges, so you have to be really prepared to handle these situations and avoid affecting the end customer.
Air conditioner this 2022 turns 75 years old and it is those challenges that make everything even more interesting; 75 years of good weather is not just an advertising slogan, it is where we have focused on educating, guiding and helping our clients achieve their goals in their projects with the best products using our stores, different channels of representation and distribution of manufacturers and wholesale.
We maintain an education and training program for our team and customers, with our suppliers in our training center, through organizations we support such as APAFAM (Panamanian Association of Facility Manager), Green Building Council of Panama and local universities, among others. We work with humility and respect for our employees, they as our customers, are the center of everything.
ACR: What do you think are the reasons for your recognition in this market?
Jose Luis: I am very grateful for this recognition, for my trajectory of what we have achieved in Air Conditioner during these last decades. I like to connect with other people in the industry so that together we support each other and we can transmit the knowledge obtained over the years to our business allies, always giving the best to our customers.
I love what I do, my honest work ethic comes from a family with values and it's something I communicate to my children and our team.
ACR: From your point of view, what has been the evolution that the industry has had in your country in the years you have been working in it?
Jose Luis: The history of modern air conditioning indicates that these systems were first developed for use in public places, theaters, shops and work offices. Throughout the latter part of the twentieth century and to this day, climate change has had a noticeable impact on temperatures in most parts of the world and Panama does not escape this, causing more and more people to turn to air conditioning units to cool their home. as well as to take care of the cold chain of food and medicines of utmost importance in these current times.
In fact we are distributors of prestigious brands that over time have impacted the industry thanks to the invention of Willis Carrier, and where today we benefit from air conditioning to diversify uses. As an example, we have Carrier as a pioneer brand where its impact on HVAC systems education, PAH design software, and high efficiency equipment have set the standard in the industry; water movement systems such as Taco pumps, Aquatherm pipes, efficient air management with Price Industries, Belimo, ABB, cold chain management and cooling systems with brands such as Hussman, Bitzer, among others.
All these brands present continuous education as a fundamental pillar for our commercial allies and in the end to be able to provide the customer with the best service.
ACR: How do you see the future of this industry?
Jose Luis: In Climatizadora we create a good climate to grow, learn, teach and take the future forward. We always remain at the forefront, in the search for technological advances to offer better products to our customers, providing them with the good climate that characterizes us and thus grow in the regional market, but always in a responsible way.
A great threat presented by our sector is the overload due to the use of millions of air conditioners, which forces the systems we put in place to be the most efficient for use and to be installed and operated by qualified personnel which avoids causing damage to the environment.
However, new equipment with new refrigerants with low impact on the environment, and with high technologies have reached the market, which translates into savings in electrical energy with better performance.
ACR: Do you remember any anecdote?
Jose Luis: There are many anecdotes but I think what I always carry is the teamwork that exists in Air Conditioner. We have, like me, several collaborators who work with us in their third generation. Where the transfer of experience and knowledge occurs within the staff, because it is important to support each other and I think I have achieved it. I am very proud to have a team of people as committed as I am.