Please explain a little about yourself.
I was born in 1942 in Budapest, Hungary, and emigrated to Sydney, Australia with my family at the age of 14. At the age of 16 I lost my father, and relocated to Melbourne in 1960, when my mother remarried.
Upon arrival in Melbourne, I commenced studies for an electrical engineering course at RMIT. After graduating I worked for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria as a cadet engineer.
I married in 1965 and have three children and eight grandchildren with my first wife. I divorced in 1986 and married my current wife, Deborah, in 1993. Deborah had two children. We now, together, have five children and 11 grandchildren.
What brought you to the HVAC&R industry?
In 1965 I left the SECV and took up a position as an engineer with my stepfather, who exported rabbit carcasses, boneless kangaroo meat, and boneless beef to the USA.
The company operated a number of ammonia pressure-plate freezers, blast freezers, and chiller and freezer storage rooms. There was a requirement to consolidate the production from all these facilities, and the profits were reinvested by adding more frozen storage space and establishing a cold storage company named Polar Cold Storage company.
I became a very hands-on cold store manager, and very quickly learned how to operate industrial ammonia refrigeration plants, as well as all operational and administrative aspects of managing a cold store.
I partially completed an air conditioning and refrigeration course at Swinburne Institute of Technology, but work and family pressures with three children resulted in not completing this additional diploma.
The cold storage company’s first external customer was a frozen vegetable producer, Wattie’s Pict, followed by Kraft Foods who were maturing bulk bins of cheese at our facility.
We quickly realised that there was good money to be made in cold storage, and later we gained a customer from Wodonga, with the work involving freezing and storing export lamb carcasses. We built a new freezing chamber nearly every year until my stepfather passed away in late 1973. I designed and project-managed the construction of these new facilities.
After the death of my stepfather, there was a lot of friction with the new owners. In January 1975 I left Polar Cold Storage and started Oxford Cold Storage Company from a purpose-built 400-pallet freezer built at the rear of my first wife’s family’s poultry processing and distributing company.
Our clients were all the abattoirs and boning rooms in the Brooklyn and Laverton North areas of Melbourne. Again, the business was very successful, and we built one new freezer every year until we ran out of land adjacent to the poultry factory.
In 1980 we purchased the current Hume Road, Laverton North site of Oxford Cold Storage (now owned by Lineage AUS TRS P/L) and by 2013 became the largest Australian cold store on a single site, with a capacity for 165,000 pallets and employing 450 people. I designed and project-managed the construction of all the new buildings.
I have been very fortunate, as I have built dozens of new cool rooms and, as I also had to operate them, I have learned from my past mistakes and was able to improve the newer buildings. I found the AIRAH conferences particularly useful in keeping up with the latest trends in building and refrigeration plant design.
How long have you been a member of AIRAH?
I have been a member of AIRAH since September 1968.
What's your favourite HVAC&R-related memory?
I enjoyed attending many AIRAH conferences, subcommittees and information sessions. But my most memorable moment was receiving, in 1958, the IIR and AIRAH Thomas S Mort Award for my work toward energy management technology for electricity load shedding and rainwater harvesting for evaporative condensers.
How do you see the HVAC&R industry developing over the next 100 years?
I am unqualified to comment on heating and air conditioning. Third-party temperature distribution centres are getting larger, fully automated, with increased storage density in sealed high-rise chambers with minimum infiltration and increased energy efficiency.
I feel that ammonia refrigerant will still be the first choice for large industrial refrigeration plants. They will be very-small-charge systems possibly operating on renewable energy such as solar and wind, with some form of energy storage.