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The HVAC/R industry continues to conquer engineers

Sergio Flores

Sergio Flores found the perfect equation in industry, sales and engineering.

By Andrea Ochoa

The air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC / R) industry has captivated more than one engineer, many have developed their true vocation developing projects and systems. Therefore, today we highlight a professional who tells us how to face the constant challenges presented by the progress of technology. The Venezuelan Sergio Flores, founder of PrimeLines LATAM, LLC and mechanical engineer by profession and who has more than three decades of experience in HVAC, an industry to which he has dedicated his entire life, being in charge of systems design, installation, equipment manufacturing and sales, argued that "the last stage of his career (sales) has been the most satisfactory in all planes, because to be successful in engineering sales, the most important thing is experience in the industry."

His beginnings in engineering were at an early age, when he discovered that he wanted to be a mechanical engineer, "I had the joy of growing up within a metalworking company of which my father was a partner, and then it was very normal for me to spend school holidays and sometimes even weekends in that company, doing all kinds of jobs, according to my physical abilities at each age," says Flores.

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In relation to this, he emphasizes: "I was fortunate to have as a father a very visionary and intelligent man, who, without formal studies, had an immense intuitive knowledge of everything related to engineering, and which he always put into practice with impressive results. All this instilled in me the love for engineering and then, during my higher studies, I did nothing but verify and verify so many things learned in my childhood and adolescence, practically it was about validating with formulas or equations what I had already learned in a practical or empirical way. "

Years later, Sergio joined the HVAC industry. This happened since he got his first job, it was then, that he started in a company - manufacturer of automotive air conditioning equipment, as described by the engineer, was one of the largest in Latin America at that time. Then, on that journey, he became a product engineer and plant manager at another company that manufactured residential and commercial air conditioning equipment in Venezuela. In that go, and over the years he worked as a contractor in a company in Caracas.

New changes marked his professional performance
Sergio moved to Miami and discovered that the best way to make money, while using his experience, was in the field of sales. In the United States, his first job was in the late 90s with Strong International, followed by a very brief stay at InterClima Corporation, from where he went to SAEG Engineering Group as director for the Caribbean area for 11 years, until he finally decided to accept an opportunity to start a joint venture with a Hong Kong-based Business Group called MESAN Group. and found their first company in this country, called MESAN USA, LLC, where they manufactured cooling towers.

Once MESAN USA was consolidated, he continued his entrepreneurial "adventure" at PrimeLines, LLC in late 2017. Regarding this challenge and its business models, the engineer states: "we are representatives of prestigious American manufacturers, such as Greenheck, Bell & Gossett, Price Industries, etc., for the Caribbean market, and then in 2019 founded PrimeLines LATAM, LLC, which is responsible for representing those same manufacturers, but in Latin America and which, thanks to exceptional partners with a lot of experience in each country, managed to have a local presence in Panama, Colombia, Peru and Chile, in addition to our headquarters in Miami."

Family, hobbies and collections: other passions
Sergio claims to be happily married to Joicie Castillo, Venezuelan Journalist, Lawyer and Life Coach. He has three children (Cynthia, Daniel and Camila). As a family they enjoy the sea, and their boat during the summer.

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As for his hobbies, he enjoys classic-sports cars and modern high-performance cars, "I like to restore the classics and enjoy the modern ones (I accumulate more than space allows, but it's a passion I enjoy a lot)". As for sports, "as a family we like physical exercise, we have our gym at home and we try to use it as much as possible, within the limitations imposed by our professional activities."

In the midst of his family, work, hobbies and sports, Flores enjoys his travels, "my business activity has led me to visit more than 40 countries, and I have been fortunate to hold seminars and conferences in destinations as "remote" as Sri Lanka, Oman, Kuwait, Australia, Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and Thailand, as well as in others more "close" such as Canada, the entire USA, the Caribbean and several Latin American countries, all to promote our cooling towers that we distribute in the Americas (from Canada to Argentina), the Middle East and Australia.

Challenges and vision
"My main challenge on a personal level is to ensure the success of our companies, while maintaining a balance between professional and family life. The next goal is to start a fourth company that will be a licensee of a well-known American brand, to introduce HVAC products to the market."
Regarding business relations, he adds: "With our employees, whom I do not like to call that way, but rather 'co-workers or teammates', there is the best possible relationship, they are all excellent, very motivated, efficient and above all very loyal and committed to our cause and our vision. Something interesting is that in our organization, there are no sales goals, everyone always gives the maximum and the results, as well as continuous growth, reflect this. Nor are there formal meetings, which in our very personal opinion, become a waste of time and resources. Our work schedule is flexible, everyone knows their responsibilities and what the company and its customers expect from us, and despite the flexibility, everything goes on time."

Regarding how the industry has evolved and its future, he shares that in the world there will always be the need to refrigerate or cool, both environments and products, only it will be with new technologies, but the fundamentals, the theoretical principles behind all this will remain the same (thermodynamics, physical and mathematical fluid mechanics).

An anecdote that becomes reflection
"I have a lot and little space for all of them, but a very interesting one for me is when I visit the most important mechanical consulting company in Abu Dhabi who were in the middle of designing a project called "2020 WORLD EXPO" to be held in the United Arab Emirates. This was at that time the largest project in the world (several thousand tons of refrigeration) and I visited them in order to promote our cooling towers. Our representative in that territory got me the appointment with the engineering manager of that firm and when I arrived at the appointment this engineer received me very cordially, made me go to a conference room, and told me: "I only have 10 minutes for you, what do you bring us?". -I came prepared to give a presentation of 1 more hour, a time for questions and answers, and his warning put me out of place, so I didn't even use my laptop, and I just started talking to him about the technology behind our products and how they could benefit his designs, etc."

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"Not 10 minutes had passed when he interrupted me, picked up the phone and called his entire engineering team into the conference room and said, 'Sit down, Sergio has some interesting things to show us.' It was then that I was able to take out my computer and make the presentation I had prepared. At the end of the question and answer session (1-1/2 hour later), this prestigious engineer dismissed me with this sentence: "Every time you come to Abu Dhabi, do not forget to stop by, this is your office, come whenever you want and you know that it is at your command". It is something that I always remember because it shows that "knowledge is power" and that in our industry there are no borders, we all speak the same "language", unlike others that are more specific to each area or country.

Andrea Ochoa Restrepo
Author: Andrea Ochoa Restrepo
Coordinadora Académica KNX. Editora en Latin Press, Inc. Candidata al título: Magister en Economía Aplicada, con amplia experiencia en medios de comunicación y Políticas Públicas. [email protected]

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