5 Questions with Craig McElwain of Oklahoma Chiller

Craig McElwainCraig McElwain joined Oklahoma Chiller as CEO in February 2015.

1. What type of service does Oklahoma Chiller provide?

As a full-service heavy commercial/industrial HVAC contractor, we offer a broad range of resources to our customers. Oklahoma Chiller provides planned maintenance, emergency service and repairs for all types and brands of equipment.

Our construction department is capable of retrofitting any mechanical system with new components such as chillers, pumps, boilers, etc., regardless of the complexity of the system. We specialize in critical system change-outs with no down time.

In addition, Oklahoma Chiller has a building automation department that works closely with our service and construction departments. This helps ensure that our customers can control their equipment efficiently, as well as properly condition their space while managing their energy usage. Oklahoma Chiller also has a rental department complete with a large inventory of equipment.

We realize that our customers’ facilities operate uniquely according to the purpose for which they were built. Therefore, we take a custom approach in the services we propose for their facilities.

2. What are the best tips for businesses to keep their cooling bills down?

Preventative maintenance and inspections of their equipment should be the primary focus. Performing the proper maintenance routinely on the entire system is the first step to ensure that it is running the way it was designed and as efficiently as possible. Equipment that is not properly maintained can see energy degradation up to 30 percent. Proper sequencing and how it works with other components will also have an impact on energy usage. Therefore, regularly scheduled maintenance and inspections, as well as continuous analysis of the application of their equipment, is vital in controlling energy usage.

We also recommend keeping an eye on the latest technology, which we help our clients in determining when that technology warrants system upgrades.

3. What are a couple of the biggest trends in the HVAC industry?

Variable Refrigerant Flow systems. VRF is an air-condition system configuration where there is one outdoor condensing unit — or sometimes multiple units mated together — and multiple indoor units. The term variable refrigerant flow refers to the ability of the system to control the amount of refrigerant flowing to the multiple evaporators (indoor units), enabling the use of many evaporators of differing capacities and configurations.

This arrangement provides an individualized comfort control and simultaneous heating and cooling in different zones. It also allows us to absorb heat from one area of the facility where it’s not wanted and move it to another area where it is needed. Another interesting trend is oil-less compression, which utilizes magnetic bearings instead of traditional pressure lubricated bearings. The absence of oil eliminates lubrication concerns that exist with conventional chillers, such as oil return problems, as well as maintaining proper oil pressures, temperatures and lubricating properties. Lack of oil also eliminates environmental issues associated with periodic oil changes.

4. You have experience in the oil and gas, pipeline, chemical, communications and technology industries. How well did that resume prepare you to be the head of a company?

I’m not sure what actually prepares someone for this type of role, but I am fortunate to be working closely with the owner, John Claybourn, who started the company and understands this industry better than anyone.

However, I think my experience has prepared me in a couple of ways. One way is that it has allowed me to bring a “business” focus to the company. Oklahoma Chiller has always been a very strong technical company, but the business systems and processes were a vulnerability.

Another way it prepared me is that it has enabled me to deal with the variety of customers that we serve — health care, manufacturing/industrial, education, technology, government and commercial — which all have different needs and concerns. Our approach is to consult with our clients to fully understand their needs, both of the individuals involved and the facility, before we offer a solution. Developing relationships with our customers is important to us, and having their best interest in mind is our focus.

5. What activities do you enjoy when you’re not working?

When we can find the time, my wife, Merry, and daughters Riley and Kate love spending time at the lake boating and fishing. We also enjoy attending OSU football games and traveling.

Credit :Tulsa World website.

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