Cees Lommers, L.AIRAH
In November 1970, Cees Lommers, L.AIRAH, arrived with his family at the port city of Fremantle, WA. As he departed the Queen Frederika ocean liner, his first memory was the warm air that blew onto the ocean from the mainland.
Originally from the Netherlands (and despite knowing virtually no English on his arrival on Australian shores), he has made a lasting career and home for himself here.
His professional start began with Musgroves, a Perth air conditioning contracting firm.
"I spent most of my first week reading and pretending to understand the Carrier Manual," he jokes.
Lommers would go on to complete a diploma in mechanical engineering, working with several contracting and consulting engineering firms before starting his own business in 1985. As the director for Lommers Engineering, he worked with his son, Mark Lommers, M.AIRAH, for 13 years.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
My English wasn't very good when we arrived in Australia in late 1970; I should have paid more attention when I attended school! My father made me look for a job the day after we arrived. I made an appointment with an employment agency, who arranged an interview with Bob Gray and Frank Hrabec at Musgroves, a local air conditioning company and music store.
All I remember from the interview is: "You have the job. Can you start as a trainee draughtsman on Monday?" I did start on the following Monday – and that's when I found out it was air conditioning I was meant to draw up. Needless to say, my learning curve was very steep, since air conditioning is not something you need much of in northern Europe.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
I have lots of good HVAC&R-related memories, all of which I cherish very much.
The most memorable event would be winning my very first Excellence Award in 1988.
I received a telephone call from Ian Loney, F.AIRAH, the Tasmanian state President with whom I had worked while I was seconded to work for three months in the Hobart branch of Lincolne Scott.
Ian asked if I could make it to the National AIRAH Conference in Hobart to collect an Excellence Award for the refrigeration system I had designed and documented for the Foodland Coldstores in Canning Vale.
The first person I rang was Mary, my wife, then my Dad and the project architect. When I asked them if I should go to collect it, they all said: "Bugger work, you will have to go and get it,” which I did.
I arrived at the Wrest Point Casino, mid-conference, where I was welcomed by Doug Elms, L.AIRAH, the newly elected and appointed federal President. I was treated like royalty throughout my stay in Tasmania. It remains a very special memory to this day.
There are many more memories that I could recall, but I need to leave space for others to tell their story.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I joined AIRAH in 1983, then ASHRAE in 1984 while I worked at Lincolne Scott. Geoff Hesford, M.AIRAH, who had been state President while he worked in the Northern Territory, proposed me into both. Thank you, Geoff.
What's something everyone should know about you, your work, or the HVAC&R industry?
I will always be grateful to those who provided me with the various opportunities in life, particularly in giving me the opportunity to do what I love most: Working in HVAC&R, and now, also, the fire safety industry.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with my son, Mark, for the last 13 or so years. I wish him well with his newfound career.
If there is something people should know, it’s that you need to enjoy your work in order to be good at your job. When you have a difficult job, break it down into smaller manageable projects. Go back to basics if you need to. It works.
Don't over-complicate things. Keep it simple.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
AIRAH has had many opportunities already. For example, the refrigerant phaseout guide is a particular document of which I am very proud.
We all need to work together to make our industry better. There are lots of opportunities. This doesn't just relate to large multi-storey developments and large shopping centres. We can significantly improve smaller projects. The quality of installations, system performance ... the list goes on. If we all work together to improve the image of our industry, we can only move forward to better things. We can be instrumental (if we are not already) in making decisions that impact the problems we currently face in the world.
The sky's the limit, as long as we all work with the same objectives.