20 Questions with Dave Pearson president and general manager of Airwell-Fedders
Originally published: 03.01.10 by Terry Tanker
Recently, Publisher Terry Tanker caught up with a very busy Dave Pearson, president and general
manager of Airwell-Fedders. They discussed changes underway at the international company as it
emerges from bankruptcy.
1. The last time you yelled at the TV, what were
2. What’s one thing you wish you would have
said yes to?
Crewing on a private yacht in the Caribbean
3. Like many executives you travel a lot — and
often internationally. What’s the longest period
you’ve spent in a hotel?
Three months. I stayed in one for eight months
once but traveled home on weekends.
4. When you’re on the road, what do you really
Raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the
5. My dad always said...
Make sure you have a trade to fall back on.
6. What’s the best lesson a mentor ever taught
Always listen, and then listen again.
7. Complete this sentence: If I ruled the world,
the first thing I would do is...
Only allow leisure or vacation travelers to fly on
8. Where did you get your start in this industry?
I started in the industry as a ductwork installer
in South Florida.
9. Why did you take this job?
I joined the company 11 years ago, and I took my
current position with the knowledge it would
be a very big challenge, but that was the main
reason it was so attractive to me. There was also
a community of customers I wanted to serve.
10. Since you’re bringing Airwell-Fedders out
of bankruptcy, it seems like you’re starting a
new company. Will the new Airwell-Fedders
resemble the old company?
No. We will be focusing on the distributor/
contractor community. We will not be a
“big box” store provider as in the past.
11. What are the significant management
challenges you face?
Two biggest challenges are maintaining
profitability in a challenging economy while
resurrecting a company out of bankruptcy and
12. What aspect of management is the most
satisfying to you?
The most satisfying part of management
is watching colleagues mature and take on
increasing responsibilities and challenges.
13. What’s the breadth of the product line you
will be marketing under the Airwell-Fedders
Currently, we have entry-level residential
products, room air, typical split systems,
furnaces, coils, and package units. Since Airwell
currently makes commercial and industrial
units, we will introduce those into the U.S.
14. Who is Airwell, and why did they purchase
Airwell is a global air conditioning
manufacturer, primarily in Europe. They
recognized that the U.S. is the second largest
market and used the Fedders opportunity to
15. Why did you decide to stick with the
Fedders name as the brand for this market?
You must have had an opportunity to rebrand
Fedders has a long history, particularly in the
Northeast. Consumers still recognize the brand,
because of the several
units that are in
the market. It
would be foolish
to throw that
16. Does Airwell intend to be a major player in
the hvacr industry?
Yes. Airwell already is a major player in Europe.
We are growing fast in China and are picking up
momentum in the U.S. and South America.
17. How will you build — or rebuild — the Fedders
relationship with hvacr contractors?
We are dedicated to helping our customer base.
That’s why we have developed our professional
services program. We have teamed up with
companies that are the leading experts in
their fields such as in accounting, insurance,
legal, retirement, I.T., payroll, etc. By offering
these services to our customers, we feel that
we can help them through the tough economic
conditions right now, and make them stronger
businesses when this current crisis is over.
18. You held a national distributor meeting last
fall. How was Airwell-Fedders received by this
I think we were well received. They see our
vision becoming a reality, our shipping time
is short, our customer service is excellent and
our warranty rate is very low. And, we are
methodically introducing new products that fit
the needs of the market.
19. So, distributors have been supportive of
your new mission and vision for the company?
It was slow at first; everyone is a little
apprehensive to do business with a company
emerging from bankruptcy and when the
owner is overseas. But they find that we have
a customer mindset and a willingness to get
involved with their business and help.
20. With recent signs that the economy is finally
starting to move, how do you see the growth and
opportunities for the industry over the next few
I think the industry will move forward with
caution, inventories will be held closer,
efficiencies will increase and refrigerant will
change in the next few years. The basic
need for comfort will always be there. As
an industry we need to find new ways to
serve those needs and be on the leading
edge of technology.
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