Keeping it cool

HEATING, ventilation and air conditioning specialist EnerTec has won key contracts to provide these services for ExxonMobil and PNG’s Parliament House this year. EnerTec chief executive officer Benjamin Carter shared some tips on doing business in PNG.
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Published in the January 2011 PNG Report magazine

At 35 years old, Carter just scraped under the age limit to win the Richard Joel Young award in Brisbane this year. The award recognises young people who are leading export businesses in Queensland.

Aside from key HVAC contracts for the Exxon-led PNG LNG project and parliament house, EnerTec has also picked up similar contracts for commercial buildings and mine site accommodation projects in PNG.

EnerTec is more than a supplier of air conditioning equipment, as it modifies purchased manufactured equipment and incorporates this gear into pre-fabricated, skid-mounted setups for easy transportation and installation.

"It's essentially a plug-and-play application when it gets to site so it reduces your labour requirements on site," Carter told PNG Report.

A mechanical engineer, Carter bought out EnerTec from his father-in-law and this year took over the business, which started in 1997.

His skills brought in design experience and this capability helped EnerTec win the HVAC contract for PNG's parliament house with its informal local partner Eltech Engineering Services.

Carter said design experience was fairly limited in PNG and EnerTec helped engineer a solution for Eltech that helped both companies win the job.

EnerTec has won business in PNG mostly through its existing client base and word of mouth. It often stands out from international competitors by its ability to reduce the scope in the design of its HVAC solutions.

"By just coming up with a smarter design it means that we can be more cost effective," Carter said.

While EnerTec has helped clients to overcome the humid conditions in PNG, the business climate is more difficult to adjust to.

"The business environment is 180 degrees [opposed] to that in Australia. Having some sort of local contact that can guide you through the culture is paramount," Carter said.

He says PNG is a place where anything can happen and it will.

"You have got to be able to adapt very quickly and change philosophies in conjunction with the environment. You are guaranteed to get road blocks on the way through which require different solutions."

Deciphering PNG business needs can be another stumbling block.

"When someone in PNG tells us that they need something urgently, you need to check the definition of urgent," Carter said.

"Their relaxed and laid back attitude in PNG can be a source of frustration. If you know the beast you're dealing with, you can cope with that."

To further secure its foothold in PNG, EnerTec is busy on the research and development front.

Carter said work was underway on power generation and energy recovery systems, especially on componentry to produce free power out of the waste heat produced outside of air conditioning units.

Electricity generated from this waste heat can be funnelled back into air conditioning units to produce more cold air inside at less cost.

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