From a tiny air-conditioning outlet to industry powerhouse with a global footprint in 17 countries, Fourways Group has made a name for itself as a South African HVAC leader over the past 23 years and is showing no sign of slowing down.
When Richard Perry founded Fourways Airconditioning in 1999, the HVAC market was not an easy one to penetrate. It was the turn of the millennium and the world was plagued by Y2K panic. It was feared that the so-called Y2K bug would cause global panic by affecting electrical power and technology, stirring up problems with digital and computerised temperature control systems.
Determined to succeed despite this very real concern, Fourways Airconditioning pushed forward and established a good base in the market, proving that with hard work and self-belief the business could get a toe-hold in the industry and flourish.
Today, Fourways Airconditioning, now trading as Fourways Group, has grown into the largest distributor of Samsung and Alliance air-conditioning products in Southern Africa that services a network of more than 2000 installers, contractors, architects, B2B consultants and consulting engineers. The company has nine offices with warehousing facilities in every major South African province and employs over 200 people. Through this wide logistics network, Fourways Group delivers products and solutions needed by customers where and when they need them.
As Africa’s fast-growing mega-cities began to boom and the necessity for air conditioning became apparent, the Fourways Export division was born. This thriving division caters to all SADC regions, as well as some major African countries that include Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, as well as the Indian Ocean islands. This cross-border service has proven invaluable to building infrastructure in these countries and delivers essential temperature-control solutions that combat their extreme heat climates.
Bringing vision into being
For Richard Perry, the vision for Fourways Group was always to be and remain the number one supplier of air-conditioning units, spares and service in South Africa. That vision has since evolved in tandem with the company. Fourways Group now operates in new markets and boasts a wider catalogue of products and services beyond air conditioning. It provides turnkey solutions in water heating, pool heating, large and small appliances, and electronics, with fast turnaround times for projects of all scopes and sizes.
The Fourways Group product range includes air conditioners, water heat pumps, swimming pool heat pumps, air care products, household appliances and electronics for residential and commercial use. Notable brands distributed include Samsung, Alliance, Philips, Toshiba, Midea retail products, AirQuality MESP filters and Hisense – with several brand products built with innovative technologies; such as Samsung Windfree technology, Alliance inverter technology that reduces monthly temperature-control electricity consumption by up to 70%, and Alliance water heaters that save two-thirds of daily water-heating costs.
“The big thing that has changed over the years is that technology is getting smarter. This is evident from all the innovations brands are incorporating into the goods they manufacture and control that businesses are rolling out for energy management,” says Richard Perry, Managing Director of Fourways Group.
“At Fourways, we are driven by the modern needs of our customers, by opportunities to build relationships, and to achieve success by helping others grow and succeed. Over the years we have built a large customer base that includes several leading retail chains, banks, hotel groups and other commercial enterprises, as well as universities and government departments,” he continues.
‘Service Is What We Sell’
As Fourways Group clients have come to know, the company prides itself on fast, on-the-spot supply in addition to long-term parts and service backup. These values are built on a deep understanding of how clients operate in different industries.
“We are constantly building on what we do best,” says Perry.
Evidence of this is reflected in the training, technical support, marketing support and dedicated engineering team that assists our clients with the design of complex VRF and commercial systems. Fourways Group also has a one-stop-shop that provides a wide range of ancillary equipment to installers, ranging from copper piping, insulation, brackets and trunking to wire, electrical conduit and complete installation kits.
Fourways Group has a team of expert specialists who are fully integrated into its clients’ businesses. The company’s hands-on approach enables it to provide immediate answers to pressing issues, as well as provide the flexibility and scalability needed to support clients’ changing business requirements. Its impressive project archives consist of the iconic Umhlanga Arch, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, King Edward VII School, Hazendal Wine Estate and the 34-storey landmark Foreshore Place in the Cape Town CBD, among others.
Taking Customer Satisfaction Further
In 2022 it seems self-evident that businesses should be pushing the envelope in their customer satisfaction experiences; to do otherwise would be to ignore a fundamental law of our world – that people will keep coming back for more. Yet it’s easier to think of times when brands have failed to satisfy, rather than when we have been satisfied. This is where Fourways Group distinguishes itself in industry. It has built an entire ecosystem around service excellence and customer satisfaction.
Its Dealer Portal provides dealers with a private business management tool designed to make operations easier. Features include product-specific CRM, inventory tracking, order management, accounting, invoicing and reporting to name a few. This is making a world of difference to how clients are running their businesses.
Along with Fourways Online, an e-commerce platform that connects installers with consumers, more secure systems for deliveries and collections involving OTP facilities, as well as the newly-launched Fourways Fourbucks Rewards programme that offers purchase incentives, Fourways Group is raising its bar and the industry’s for customer satisfaction.
Giving back has also been a part of the Fourways Group story. The company plays an active role in the upliftment of disadvantaged communities, the development of its staff and caring for the environment. Fourways Group has served as an associate sponsor of the Hollywoodbets Dolphins since 2018 and has supported the cricket franchise’s feeding scheme, as well as the Imbumba Foundation’s Caring4Girls menstrual hygiene support programme that has empowered over 1.2 million adolescent girls from low-income and low-resource communities.
At the heart of the Fourways Cares philosophy is uplifting its people, achieved by providing development opportunities to staff that their full potential to be reached and career aspirations to be fulfilled. An initiative that stands out is the company’s Owner Drivers Initiative.
It has enabled two long standing staff members, Mike Mudau and Leondard Modise, to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and start their own specialist delivery businesses, Vhadau Movers (Pty) Ltd and By Grace Deliveries. Each business specialises in the transportation and delivery of goods, with Fourways Group as their first official client.
The Fourways Group Owner Drivers Initiative provided each new business owner with their first delivery vans, registered their companies and provided them with assistance on how to run a smooth operating business, manage costs and income, and other key skills that contribute to a profitable business, proving Fourways Group to be a business that doesn’t just talk staff empowerment but walks it too.
“Through Fourways Cares, we endeavour to leave a lasting positive impact on our people and the communities in which we operate,” Perry says.
The Fourways Group has come a long way from its tiny air-conditioning outlet. As it remains one of the most popular HVAC businesses in South Africa, one can be sure that in the years to come we will be witnessing more developments and additions to the Fourways Group repertoire, proving it isn’t just an air-conditioning company anymore.