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A tireless professional passionate about air conditioning

Ramón Junco

"Work for me is not a job, it is a passion, it is a hobby and I love the people with whom I share, internal colleagues and clients. I have very good friends throughout the industry."

By Iris Montoya

Ramón José Junco de la Fuente, current vice president at Oldach Trading LLC, is a man reserved with his personal life and passionate about his work, an expert engineer in air conditioning who continues to work, despite having already reached the age to retire, because he overflows in energy and feels that he still has much to give to this industry.

Puerto Rican by birth, he grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he spent his childhood with his brother and sister. As a child he studied in a private school, but his last four years were spent in a private boarding school of Benedictine monks, on top of the difference of the study day there the teaching was mainly in the English language.

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From that time Ramón emphasizes that he enjoyed his closeness to physical activities, assures that he is a fan of all sports, but clarifies that "at that time he played American football, basketball and also practiced athletics, in long-distance races."

Upon entering the university he did not hesitate to enroll for mechanical engineering, because before thinking about higher education he was clear about his taste for thermal sciences. This expert commented that while studying his career he saw the subjects of heat transfer and then, voluntarily, took the subject of air conditioning. This is a clear indication of the industry you would choose.

Transition to working life
"I started working in the last year of my degree, because at the end of my studies there were several companies to interview graduation candidates, I went to several and an American company hired me. That company was called Dupont and it just so happens that I was making a very large plant in Puerto Rico to manufacture paints, I was hired to work on the construction of that space.

By chance when I started working with them I was assigned to the division that was building the central ice water plant. Look at what a thing! – Ramon comments happily. There I met people from Carrier because the equipment that had been purchased was of that brand. I'm talking about something that happened in 1974. While working there, an interview with the Carrier distributor in Puerto Rico emerged, from which I was offered employment. I was only six months old, so I didn't think about it, I jumped in at once, I went to work with them."

From this experience the engineer comments that he learned a lot from the CEO of the company, "an incredible teacher, a trained person and a great human being". He was working with them, and they even sent him to a five-month course for engineers. Later, he returned to Puerto Rico and worked in this company until the 80's.

Subsequently, Ramón had the opportunity to work for a decade with Trane in Puerto Rico and, by the time the 90's arrived, he obtained a general manager role at Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese company that distributed Daikin equipment for the region.

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An important detail is that at that time Daikin did not have the range of products it has today, so it was difficult to enter the market and the operation only lasted three years. So, in view of the situation and that he had experience, the engineer went to work at a consulting firm in Puerto Rico.

To his surprise, he was soon called back from Trane to give him a place and locate him in Miami, from where they asked him to manage the operation in Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia. He was with this company from 1994 until 2015, at which time he retired and went home.

Saying goodbye to the industry? Not yet
Ramón commented that although he was already taking a break from work, the field of air conditioning and the opportunity to have known different countries and cultures gave him the benefit of meeting excellent people outside the workplace.

"I always wanted to be able to enjoy with them longer and then, being retired, I was called by the owners of Oldach, Giancarlo Brito and Félix Campos, engineers who were friends of mine since the 80's, even before they were the owners of that company. They called me to tell me they wanted to open an operation and promote products in Central America and Colombia. They asked me if I was interested in joining the group, obviously!"

The engineer concluded from that question in a very joking way: "That was like asking the dead man if he wants mass." For him it was the perfect opportunity, it met his requirements to return to working life. Ramón emphasizes that the Oldach team has human and professional quality.

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"I was very interested in the opportunity to join the guild again and be able to continue doing what I had done for so long and be active in these markets again. So I put the jersey on in early 2016 and started working with them to this day."

Reading his story it is easy to understand why Ramón Junco has great recognition in the HVAC industry, as he has witnessed the growth of it by recognized brands and in a consulting role.

HVAC Industry Analysis
Ramon, who represents the knowledge and experience of the HVAC industry, explained what path this has taken in the last 15 years. For the engineer there has been an important development, of which the growth in variable refrigerant systems stands out, although he points out that these still have limitations.

On the other hand, he indicated that "cold water is still used, where the development of these systems has been dramatic in the area of efficiency, specifically those of the chillers of the chillers. In addition, there has been an important development of modular double-walled air handlers, responsible for promoting healthcare, so they have a great use in sterile areas, critical production spaces for the pharmaceutical industry."

To this he added that, in the development of air conditioning, it is important to analyze the item of the residential area, because of the air conditioning that is marketed in the world, 55% is composed of minisplit systems.

"This is a growing product that has been stylized a lot, it has been transformed to increase its architectural appeal, energy efficiency and, in addition, its costs have come down considerably. So, minisplits are more accessible to the average consumer or 'middle class', that's why it sells so much, and Latin America is no exception, these devices have an excellent market in Central America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico."

The expert believes that the pandemic boosted much more the adoption of this air conditioning solution in homes, especially in coastal areas, because being confined to their homes for so long, people began to see them as something more necessary to overcome high temperatures. "I think that this comfort system is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. All those who were able to work from home needed a more comfortable, more suitable environment, so those who did not have a minisplit went out to buy it."

Professional challenges and goals to meet with Oldach
Ramón, faced with the challenges posed by his future work, says that he has always been concerned that the markets continue to grow and that as a brand they continue to be resilient, so that there is an opportunity for growth. And he emphasized this, because although at the moment there is no American manufacturer that manufactures minisplits, rather, they sell those that are made in Asia, it is something that could change.

However, in the face of ice water systems, the engineer comments that the biggest challenge is "that people give us the opportunity and convince themselves that what we promote is a reliable Asian product. When we started to promote the applied products they told us 'that is a Chinese product and it is not of good quality, maybe it is not durable, what certifications?', the reality is that we do have the same certifications that American manufacturers have".

In this sense, the vice president of Oldach commented that in the market there is an indisputable reality and that is that "Asian products are more competitive in prices than those assembled in the United States, because labor in Asia is cheaper than American." Hence, the company you work for has a cost advantage for the end user. Also, in this scenario it happened that many American manufacturers took their production process to China to be able to compete in the market, then the argument of the difference in quality or the disadvantages of origin collapsed.

Finally, Ramón pointed out that it seems relevant that "the end user receives advice in the most transparent way possible, where the preferences of the consultant do not have weight", so that the best system can be chosen, whether Asian or American manufacturing.

Future of the industry
"I think the industry is going to continue to grow. To the extent that in our hemisphere, especially in what is Central America and the Caribbean, as well as part of South America, there is political stability, that will promote the interest of investors to participate in residential, commercial and industrial projects, all these spaces in which they need air conditioning. "

He also stressed that because many other projects have already completed their life cycle and need changes in their equipment, those in charge of the operation will look for more efficient solutions and devices that are adequate to current air quality standards. "So we have a development in both new projects and existing projects, with replacement of equipment by more efficient systems. In addition to changes in the spaces that would not have received a good preventive maintenance program."

Personal side of the renowned professional
To conclude, it is important to highlight the personal side of Ramón's life, which although being a reserved man shows the great love he has for his family, made up of his wife, daughter and grandchildren. The engineer shared that the pandemic brought them closer.

"I went two and a half years without traveling for the first time 25 years. My daughter lived in New York with her family and the pandemic brought her to our area to Miami. That is, that gave me the opportunity to share more with her and my two grandchildren (a girl and a boy). That closeness gave me the opportunity to watch them grow, which is a wonderful thing, truly a unique experience that has filled our lives with energy."

He stands out from his grandchildren who are very affectionate. Consider it a joy to be able to see them and have them around frequently. "I love having that opportunity."

To conclude, of his hobbies Ramón assures that, apart from the work that does not make him a burden, he exercises routinely, because he walks a lot. For a time he played golf, which he learned to play in Colombia, but this activity ended due to an arm injury. "I mainly walked and biked, as well as reading, listening to music and spending time with family."

Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Author: Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Jefe Editorial en Latin Press, Inc,.
Comunicador Social y Periodista con experiencia de más de 16 años en medios de comunicación. Apasionado por la tecnología y por esta industria. [email protected]

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