Viessmann: Third Generation Family Business Meets Challenges Head-on

April 1, 2009

When we talk about a multi-generational family-owned business, we don’t normally think in terms of 92-year-old manufacturing companies that employ more than 8,000 people worldwide.

But that’s exactly what we’re talking about when the company is Viessmann Manufacturing Company.

Headquartered in Germany, Viessmann has 12 manufacturing plants and more than 120 sales branches in more than 35 countries.

Viessmann’s specialties include: air-conditioning technology; combined heating and power stations; control technology; data communication; domestic hot water cylinders; gas-fired, oil-fired, and condensing boilers; heat exchangers; heat pumps; home ventilation systems; photovoltaic systems; solar systems; and other heating system components.

According to general manager Rich Corcoran, “Precision engineering goes into everything from the building design itself, to the products, controls, manufacturing processes, automation, and our green practices.”

Corcoran is a 20+ year veteran of the mechanical systems industry who has worked in the manufacturing, service, and installation aspects of the marketplace. He recently joined Viessmann as general manager after an eight-year stint with Grundfos Pumps.

“Our focus,” he explains, “is in the residential and commercial hydronic heating markets, as well as the thermal, solar, and domestic hot water markets.

“For Viessmann,” he continues, “the focal point of our efforts is on both the contractor and the distributor. They play dynamic and essential roles in delivering our equipment to the end user. Supporting and empowering the wholesaler and contractor to effectively sell, market, and support our products is key to our strategy.”

With that in mind, when asked what one of the top issues facing contractors and distributors today was, Corcoran targeted manpower.

“As an industry, our biggest hurdle is the availability of new, qualified people entering the trade. Coupled with this need is a rapidly changing environment calling for greater efficiency than ever before.

“This charges the entire industry with mastering new technologies — as well as understanding the proper application, installation, and troubleshooting of this technology.”

He adds that we’re faced with challenges to the traditional way of conditioning habitable space. “Energy costs and questionable fuel supplies are pushing us into a future where our comfort solutions must integrate sustainable, renewable energy along with a highly efficient, smaller, fossil fuel-based appliance,” Corcoran says.

Viessmann is already there. Corcoran says the company, which develops and deploys its own technology, has been integrating renewable and traditional technology successfully for more than a decade in North America.

“We come to market with a systems-based approach,” he says. Viessmann is dedicated to training. Corcoran is particularly focused on this. “People must have careers in the HVAC industry, and it’s incumbent on manufacturers to provide edu-cation without pushing completely brand-specific information.”

To that end, Viessmann trains more than 1,000 contractors annually at its facility in Warwick, RI, on boiler system and control technology. The emphasis is on applications.

Despite the state of the economy, Corcoran sees this as the greatest possible time to be in the HVAC industry. He says the decisions made by today’s contractors will continue to impact the country 20 to 25 years from now.

“Our industry can and should play a key role in delivering a greater level of energy independence for the next generation,” he concludes.