Career on ice
David Bostock, president of sales, west europe for GEA Refrigeration Technologies, has devoted almost 30 years to industrial refrigeration. As generate discovered, his enthusiasm for the business is as strong as ever.
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If there’s one subject that doesn’t leave David Bostock cold it’s industrial refrigeration. “Our business is as much a passion as a profession,” he says.
“Industrial refrigeration is a specialist industry segment and that makes us a small community. My brother also works in the industry and, when we get together, we drive our wives crazy talking about refrigeration, new projects and new developments. It is a small industry, so everyone knows each other.”
Shop floor to boardroom
Since leaving school at 16, David has spent his entire career in the refrigeration industry, a journey that has taken him from shop floor to boardroom.
He began as a mechanical engineering apprentice with Findus frozen foods in his home town of Grimsby on the east coast of England. After completing a higher national diploma (HND) in refrigeration, David spent 13 years with Star Refrigeration, a contracting and servicing company. He then took a break to study mechanical engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Armed with his degree, David returned to Star for a time before leaving with a group of colleagues to join Morris & Young’s Industrial Section.
“After about four years GEA Grenco bought the company, so I joined GEA through acquisition,” he explains. David spent four years at GEA Grasso International – the Netherlands-based contracting export operation, covering mainly Eastern Europe. In 2007 he was appointed Managing Director of GEA Grenco UK and Ireland. Following the recent reorganization, David is also now President of Sales, West Europe at GEA Refrigeration Technologies.
It’s a huge remit, covering contracts, servicing, and component sales for all GEA Refrigeration Technologies’ operations and activities in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The main customers are in the food, marine and oil and gas industries.
“I spend at least 30 per cent of my time in the UK in my capacity as Country Sales Organization Manager,” David reveals. “There I am involved in negotiating individual contracts and projects, working with the management team and coordinating the different activities associated with sales of refrigeration installations and compressor components.
“The rest of my time is spread between the different countries, discussing with the managers there about their business and sales activities. GEA Refrigeration Technologies faces many challenges in Western Europe – business and technological; and a number of the country organizations are undergoing major improvement projects.”
With many western European customers expanding into eastern Europe, David is also in touch with colleagues there. He believes that having a representative in each country, so that customers are fully supported wherever they choose to do business, is one of GEA Refrigeration Technologies’ main strengths. In other words, ‘act local, think global’.
Another strength is people. He says: “We have a lot of very talented individuals and seeing people develop and grow with the company gives me an enormous amount of job satisfaction.”
With his engineering background and business experience David is equally at home talking technical with field service engineers as he is discussing figures in the boardroom.
I enjoy being connected to our people at all levels of the different companies and my aim is to try and maintain the spirit of a family-run company within a large corporate base
A key challenge will be EU climate change legislation which will have an impact on refrigeration. “As well as adapting our existing technology we aim to lead the way with innovations,” says David. Distributing food supplies to growing populations in developing countries, plus the pace of change in emerging economies, also offer new challenges and potential for the future.
He has a keen interest in new refrigeration technologies and the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board in the UK, of which he is Chairman, provides the ideal forum for this. Although, David admits: “Presenting technical papers in front of your peers can be nerve-racking. But it helps to build confidence.”
With such a wide-ranging responsibility and frequent travel – volcanic ash from Iceland permitting – David devotes his weekends to his family. He is a keen rugby fan, supporting Saracens in the UK and, with his wife being South African, he also follows the fortunes of the Cape Town team Stormers.
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