What is an HVAC sales director?

We’re running a series of blogs giving more information about the wide range of HVAC jobs available, and the qualifications and attributes needed for them.

Here, we take a look at the role of an HVAC sales director typically for an HVAC manufacturer.

Job description

An HVAC sales director manages and oversees the sales process at all stages. They are involved in a wide range of areas such as: product development, sales and marketing, negotiations with key customers, distribution of products, budget management, sales projections, customer relationship management (CRM)and staff training and coaching.

Day-to-day activities

A key part of the HVAC sales director’s role is supporting and managing the sales team. They are responsible for building and retaining a solid, high-quality and united salesforce which understands both the customer and the products. This may sometimes involve a restructuring of the team or changes to the sales strategy. A sales director often needs to be available 24/7 to help with all aspects of the sales process.

HVAC sales directors are also involved in product management and development. They work with key clients, as well as contractors, engineers, and mechanical and electrical (M&E) consultants, to establish needs, generate new opportunities and identify the sales potential of new technologies.

Another key activity is planning and implementing the launch of new product ranges, or identifying and moving in to new markets. This also involves forecasting and marketing, as well as dealing with issues around product quality.

Sales directors maintain a focus on cost control, margins and sales revenue at all times – and they make sure their sales team does the same. As part of their role, they plan, implement and manage the sales (and possibly also marketing) budgets, as well as preparing forecasts, profitability and expenditure reports. They analyse operational costs, sales results and market conditions, and implement strategies and systems accordingly.

All of the above activities involve attending frequent meetings both at their business headquarters and also at venues in the UK and abroad.


An HVAC sales director will have worked in the industry for a number of decades. Often they will have begun their careers as welders, plumbers or engineers before progressing through the ranks via roles in technical sales or as sales engineers.

They may hold an HND or BTEC in an HVAC or construction-related field.

They will have gained a variety of qualifications throughout their career related to their HVAC specialism, as well as in health and safety, management, and training.

Skills and attributes

Excellent communication and negotiation skills are absolutely essential to the role. An HVAC sales director not only needs to build relationships with clients, contractors and distributors. They need to successfully engage with people at all levels, to explain and promote the benefits of their products. They are authoritative but approachable, confident but not arrogant, and the act with integrity at all times.

HVAC sales directors have a flexible and adaptable approach. This helps them to understand and keep abreast of changes to industry regulations and advances in new products, brands, technologies and systems.

They must also be adept and confident at delivering meetings and presentations, often at board level or at seminars and conferences. Excellent planning and project management skills are also required for marketing and exhibitions, presentations and budget implementation.

Because of their experience and their background, sales directors often have good technical and product knowledge.They are also able to impart that knowledge in a clear and understandable way to their sales team and clients.

Sales directors tend to be passionate, self-motivated and excellent at time management. They are also physically fit and have lots of energy, vital for the demands of the role and the amount of travelling required.

Earning potential

An HVAC sales director typically earns between £80,000 and £100,000 basic salary, with bonuses adding as much as £30,000, along with other benefits as part of the package.

Job satisfaction

Sales directors are high performers who tend to be driven not just by money but also by the satisfaction of achieving results and being recognised for their contribution. Many sales directors also find it very rewarding to manage and develop their salesforce, often taking a supportive approach to management and empowering their staff to perform to the best of their abilities.

Find out more

If there’s something you’d like to know about the role of an HVAC sales director that we haven’t covered here, we’d be happy to help further. Or we could point you in the direction of roles available right now. Call us on 01158714777

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Counter Offer Advice for HVAC Employers

Finding the right people to fill key roles in your business isn’t easy and, even when everything seems to be going well, a counter offer can throw a spanner in the works at the last minute.

As HVAC recruiters we understand that counter offers are a common issue, particularly with HVAC sales jobs where the candidates with the right product and customer knowledge are hard to find, incumbent employers are reluctant to let good people go without a fight.

So how can employers make sure they don’t lose their ideal candidate during the salary negotiation process?

5 Counter Offer Tips to help Clients Win their Best Candidates

  1. Go in high with your first offer. For a typical HVAC sales role, few candidates will take the risk of moving job for a £3k gain in salary. Consider offering £5K to £6K initially and be prepared to go in high again if a counter offer comes in, with at least a £6K difference.
  2. Offer a significant percentage improvement. If your salary structure is different to the average, then in our experience candidates are more susceptible to a counter offer if the original offer is 5 to 10% higher than their current basic salary. If potential employers offer 15 to 20% above the candidate’s current basic they are far less likely to receive – or be tempted by – a counter offer.
  3. Stress the career benefits. A desirable candidate will want to feel there is room to grow in the new role. A self-starter will be attracted by a degree of autonomy and an opportunity to make the job their own to a certain extent. If there is potential to develop their career and step up to new challenges, they are far less likely to be persuaded by a counter offer. So many employers forget to specify the career benefits of the job and the opportunities that exist within the company.
  4. Are they ready to move? Employers can save themselves a lot of time and energy if they recognise which candidates are ready to move and which are hedging their bets. If a candidate can’t give you convincing reasons for wanting to leave their current position, the chances are they’re not entirely convinced they want to move. These are the types of candidates who tend to be lured back by counter offers.
  5. Is it a perfect match? A lot of our work involves matching candidates to the right jobs. In order to do that we need to get to know them really well. We want to understand what drives them and what career path they imagine for themselves. They may have the key skills required for the role but do they have any unique talents or have they developed expertise in a specific area that might make them more suited to some of our clients than others? If the match is right and the culture of the company fits the ambitions and skills of the candidate, a counter offer will rarely upset the apple cart.
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A Day in the Life of an HVAC Area Sales Manager

Name: Martin Malyon

Role: Area Sales Manager

Area: Midlands (Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Birmingham, Worcester, Kidderminster)

Company: Gilberts (Blackpool) Ltd, a leading manufacturer of air distribution products

Who are your main clients and what industry sectors do you tend to work with?

I generally deal with consultants and contractors in the HVAC industry, particularly within the ventilation sector.

Run me though your typical day

First thing, I review the list of quotes that have been sent out the previous day. There are often potential orders to place that need following up and that is a great way to start the day. The first priority is always the projects that are due to be ordered. Responding quickly and accurately is essential and that is why our customers come to me and Gilberts.

Throughout the day customers email me with drawings or schedules of their projects. Some of these I can deal with on the go, others take longer or need involvement from our technical team in Blackpool. However, I’m a field sales guy, so getting out and dealing face to face with our customers is a major part of my day. You can’t beat it for really getting to know what matters most to our customers and helping them achieve their project goals.

It’s the design consultants that have to ensure a project is going to work, and supporting them – be it electronically or in their office – is something Gilberts is renowned for. As I’m relatively new to the role, this can be a bit daunting at times, but my confidence grows with each meeting and knowing “a man who can” in the team means they always get the answers they need quickly. As the project progresses and the contractor gets involved, being hands on throughout the process also gives them the confidence it will work first time. I get a real buzz from seeing a project completed knowing I had a small part to play.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

One thing I really enjoy is building relationships. I like being in front of people and then strengthening those contacts. Having regular calls from customers I’ve met asking for support and being able to help them tells me that, although I’m quite new, I must be doing something right.

I also love seeing a project from the very start to the finish. It can be an office block, care home or hospital and you see it before it even starts being built. Then you see how it develops and how your part fits into the whole project. Our part of the ventilation system is usually one of the last parts but it’s the most important, it’s giving oxygen to the people in the building.

How important is it to have good technical skills in your role?

A large part of my job is to give guidance to customers about our products. Sometimes it’s the designer trying to overcome a particular issue. Sometimes, a contractor thinks they want to use a particular product but I can see that perhaps there is an alternative that works better or is more commercially viable. I need to be able to explain why and show them it is a better alternative.

We have a great technical team in Blackpool with probably the best test set-up in the UK. They can usually respond straight away, but sometimes they will do full computer simulations or real life tests with room mock-ups to ensure situations that are out of the ordinary work. In my role, though, when you sit in front of the customers every day, you always need to give some technical input. Without that, you wouldn’t get any sales. People want technical answers from people and companies they trust there and then, so you need to know what you’re talking about and not get it wrong.

How have you acquired those skills?

I’ve worked in sales for quite a long time, across a variety of disciplines. I’m used to being in front of people and selling products, but when I joined Gilberts I had no previous HVAC technical knowledge.

So I’ve had to learn it. I did training at head office with the technical director and the office support team. Gilberts manufacture everything in Blackpool so I spent time there seeing how things were made from start to finish. I also spent time in the test lab, where I was able see how air is distributed out of various products under different conditions.

Alongside that, I spent time with the external sales team all across the country, shadowing them as they went about their day-to-day tasks. That was really helpful as they all do things their own way but with the same level of professionalism and desire to ensure the customer gets the support they need while at the same time ensuring we win the work.

I was lucky enough to take the area over from Pete Sedgwick, who’s now the National Sales Manager (and my boss) and one of Gilberts’ most experienced and successful ASMs. I took lots of notes and then typed them up at home in the evenings. I even got my partner to test me on them sometimes! I went through all the catalogues, building up my knowledge. And I often revise on products the night before meeting a client so I have the knowledge I need.

I’ve really worked at it and put in the hours, and it’s gone really well. I was meant to be on a 12-month transition into the job but the period has been shortened, because I progressed quicker than expected.

What do you find most challenging?

The workload can be a challenge – I’m very busy. Gilberts is the busiest it’s been for 20 years and growing. Geographically, my area is one of the largest. It also has a lot of consultants and contractors within it so there is never a dull moment.

As someone new to the HVAC sector, what are the attractions for people considering sales roles in HVAC?

The package is good, but you do have to earn your money. Expectations are high, as they are in all sales roles. If you want to be successful, you have to put the effort and hours in. The role can be very rewarding and enjoyable, even though it’s challenging and hard work. Every job is different and you make some good friends and build some good relationships with people.

It’s not like a lot of sales jobs where they conclude quickly. It’s a unique kind of role because consultants and contractors have different drivers and rely on you to know your stuff to help with their particular issues. Some projects take months or years to come to fruition, so you also have to be patient. It can be very technical and involved, but I find that side of it interesting.

If you’re willing to work hard, learn and be patient, it can be a job for life because your customers will always bring something new to challenge you. And we are always bringing new products to the market. My boss has been at Gilberts for over 20 years and he says he’s still learning.





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EU Candidates Urged to Keep Applying for HVAC Jobs After Brexit Vote

The Brexit vote may be deterring EU candidates from putting themselves forward for UK-based HVAC jobs according to specialist recruiters at Thornhvac.

The company, which sources candidates for roles in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning sectors, said Brexit had caused uncertainty, particularly with those seeking work in Britain from overseas.

Thornhvac Director, Jason Thornhill said: “EU candidates are ideal for many internal sales roles in the HVAC sector because they are flexible about where they are based.

“Brexit has caused a lot of uncertainty in Europe and this seems to be putting off overseas jobseekers.

“We’d like to send a message out that people from EU countries still have a right to work and live in the UK, and probably still will do when Britain leaves Europe.”

The UK has two years to figure out the exact terms of the nation’s departure from the EU. Jason said the change would bring with it various challenges and opportunities for the UK and EU recruitment industry.

“The Brexit process could actually work in favour of those looking for work as competition for jobs drops off with many job hunters assuming it’s not a good time to apply for jobs.

“Our message to EU candidates is that there are some excellent jobs available in the HVAC industry and some exciting career opportunities.”

EU candidates can register with Thornhvac here to receive notifications of the latest HVAC job vacancies.

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Top tips for keeping high performers engaged

High performers can add huge value to your business, help you develop strong client relationships, promote your brand and really drive your company forward.

They’re self-starters who need very little management but employers shouldn’t be too complacent. High performers are loyal but they can also be tempted to move on. Here are some of the key things to watch out for if you want to keep your high performers on board:

High performers need to feel valued

High performers move jobs if they feel undervalued by their managers. If they know they’re adding value to the business, they will quickly become disengaged and despondent if they feel their contribution is not recognised.

High performers love benefits and bonuses. But they don’t just stay with a company purely because of the amount of money they’re offered; rather they want the size of their bonus to reflect the job they’ve done and the overall impact it has on the company. They need to feel that their contribution has been rewarded fairly.

High performers love positive feedback alongside financial rewards. If they start feeling that they’re being taken for granted, they may start looking elsewhere for that recognition.

High performers need feedback – even though their work is great

Despite excelling at what they do and achieving superb results, high performers are always striving to be even better, to learn more and to meet new challenges.

So while you may think they’re great and there’s nothing you can fault them on, make sure you nonetheless give them constructive feedback on what they could do differently or better. Give feedback frequently and sometimes even spontaneously – if you wait for the annual review, you may find your top performer has already moved elsewhere!

They want everyone in their team to pull their weight

Just because they are more productive than their colleagues, it doesn’t mean that high performers should feel like the only one in their team who is contributing anything worthwhile. They want to see everybody at least trying as hard as they are. They certainly don’t want to be carrying the workload of any weaker colleagues.

As part of their need to feel valued, high performers also want to see a differentiation between the rewards and compensation they are receiving and those of their lower-performing colleagues. A lack of accountability is a real turn-off for high performers so they certainly don’t want to see an indifference or lack of action from their management towards any weak links within their team.

High performers don’t like to be too regulated

High performers are usually self-starters who have often achieved their success by being creative, innovative and driven. They strive to do things better, more efficiently and quickly. So they won’t take kindly to a boss who tries to micromanage them or doesn’t listen to their ideas, or to a company which forces them to follow procedures which restrict their ability to carry out their work quickly and effectively.

This doesn’t mean that they like to break the rules – and it also doesn’t mean that a company shouldn’t have procedures and regulations in place. But if a high performer feels stifled and unable to carry out their role fully, they will become increasingly frustrated and begin to look elsewhere.

Their expectations aren’t being met

Your high performers may have different expectations to other employees. They want to be well rewarded and compensated for their work in a variety of ways including compensation, bonuses, pensions, flexible working or good work-life balance, holidays and training. If you want to keep hold of your top performers, it’s a good idea to find out what benefits they value most.

High performers are also usually very focused on customer service and so will have certain expectations from their company around quality and production. If these expectations are not met, it could demotivate them.

They need to be excited, interested and engaged

Companies should be putting at least twice as much effort in to keeping their high performers engaged as they do with other employees. They need to recognise high performers early on and give them a role which makes the most of their abilities.

High performers are often the kind of people who relish a challenge or are forever trying to better themselves. They may be exceptionally good at a particular skill or have some expert knowledge of something, but they’ll soon get bored if that’s all they do. They may feel frustrated by a lack of career prospects or new product development.

So high performers should be given opportunities to extend their skills, develop professionally and move through the ranks. Of course, managers are often reluctant to let their best people move on to a new role, but it’s better that it’s a new role within their company than with a competitor.

They get burnt out

For many of the reasons listed above, high performers can end up being overloaded with work and often find themselves in the position where they are the only person in the company with the knowledge and skills to perform a particular task. They also often end up picking up work left by less competent or motivated colleagues.

If this continues for a length of time, high performers can often end up feeling stressed, under huge pressure and, frankly, burnt out.

If you’re a high performer looking for a new challenge or need a high performing salesperson on your team contact our recruitment experts on 0115 8714 777

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Why ethical business practice is vital for attracting and retaining good people

It is no secret that ethical business behaviour and corporate social responsibility can bring significant benefits to employers.

Over the years we have seen time and again that high performing candidates seek out roles with companies that exhibit positive values and a commitment to ethical business practice.

We also find that high performers who work for ethical and well managed companies are less likely to be tempted by a new role elsewhere, even if there’s more money on the table.

A recent report on good governance by The Institute of Directors (IoD), warns companies to improve how they are run after a year in which excessive pay for bosses and a string of scandals has hit British businesses. It highlights how confidence has been lost in companies that have been found to treat suppliers poorly.

Tesco scored badly in the report, particularly in relation to audit and risk and external accountability after being found to have deliberately withheld money from its suppliers.

Travis Perkins, which own PTS Plumbing Trade Supplies (domestic) and BSS Pipeline & Heating Solutions (commercial) in the heating market, also scored poorly, as did others in the construction sector. Top performers included British American Tobacco, Unilever and Next.

It’s important that employees feel secure in the knowledge that there are no unethical practices in the workplace they are considering. This should have the knock on effect of increasing staff loyalty, reducing employee turnover and therefore increasing productivity.

Customers are also more at ease buying products or services from a company known to operate in an ethical and responsible way.

Reputation is one of a company’s most important assets, and one of the most difficult to rebuild should it be lost.

That’s one reason why our Best Companies to Work For survey has had so much attention in the HVAC industry. Good employers are keen to do everything they can to engage their staff and promote best practice – and the most skilled employees are eager to work for them.

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New Appointment as Thornhvac Expands

Specialist Leeds recruitment consultancy Thornhvac has appointed a senior recruiter to head up a new division following expansion.

Shelley Hamilton will specialise in sourcing candidates for service and maintenance roles in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning sectors.

Shelley has worked in the recruitment industry for almost 20 years and joins HVAC recruiter Thornhvac from Travail Employment Group.

Rob Bryan, Team Leader at Thornhvac, said: “We have seen a significant surge in demand for roles in the maintenance and servicing sector and this has prompted us to launch a new division of the business. 

“Shelley’s extensive knowledge of the recruitment industry makes her a valuable addition to the team as we expand and she will work closely with manufacturers, facilities management firms and other maintenance providers to source the right skills for these roles.”

Shelley said: “I am looking forward to using my expertise to develop a specialist area within this niche recruitment company which has an established reputation in the field of engineering and building services.”

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Demand for HVAC skills still high after Brexit vote

Demand for HVAC skills in the UK construction industry remains high despite new figures suggesting the number of permanent job vacancies has fallen since Britain opted to leave the EU.

Data from HVAC recruitment specialist Thornhvac is at odds with the latest cross-sector study on job vacancies which showed a drop in the number of permanent vacancies in July.

By contrast, Thornhvac saw the number of new opportunities in heating, ventilation and air conditioning rise by 20% last month compared to July 2015.

Jason Thornhill, director of Thornhvac, said the construction sector continued to be affected by skills shortages and that demand for experienced engineers and sales people remained strong. 

“We have had a very busy second quarter working with contractors and manufacturers to fill roles for designers, fitters and sales engineers,” said Jason.

“There seems to be a particular need for CAD designers, experienced specification sales engineers and candidates who can combine customer service skills with technical expertise to carry out servicing and repairs.”

Jason said that although most recruitment agencies nationally were reporting a shift to short term contracts, the HVAC sector was bucking the trend.

“What we’re seeing from employers is a desire to source high achieving and experienced personnel who can give them a competitive edge in an expanding market,” he explained.

Thornhvac’s 2015 salary survey found that the average UK salary for an HVAC sales engineer is between £35-40K but Jason said the earning potential of high performers was much higher.

“Candidates who have built up several years of industry knowledge and have a strong sales record can command salary and bonus packages that are much higher than the industry average,” he said.

“This is particularly true at the moment when the job market is so buoyant,” he added.  


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Daikin Boss Comments on Thornhvac Survey

Daikin MD Martin Krutz has shared his thoughts on Thornhvac’s Best HVAC Companies to Work For survey with Heat Pumps Today.

Daikin UK was named the best air conditioning manufacturer to work for and the manufacturer that offers the best products by Thornhvac’s latest industry survey.

Analysing the views of HVAC engineers, we asked which company they believe is the best to work with or for. More than a third of those surveyed (34%) chose Daikin as the perceived best manufacturer to work for.

Heat Pumps Today says in its article that, delving deeper into what makes the best HVAC employer, there were several important influencing factors identified.

A majority of 78% believed that the best companies to work for were those with the best products. Also noted to be of great significance was good service and technical support, followed closely by a strong brand presence with 51% of respondents’ vote.

The survey also provided an interesting insight into what installers expect and value from product manufacturers.

Martin Krutz, Managing Director of Daikin UK said: “We’re delighted that the ongoing product innovation and technical support we offer has been recognised by the engineers of the UK air conditioning sector.

“An extremely positive year for Daikin, 2015 saw the launch of the VRV I and S-series. Providing installers with a product for every application – from small and compact units to systems installed entirely indoors, Daikin’s product innovation is leading the way for the industry.

“Looking forward, we aim to continue with this ethos, as demonstrated by the recent launch of the UK’s first commercial R32 air conditioning range and the on-going success of our technical support teams.”

 Read the full article here

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What is a Trainer

We’re running a series of blogs aimed at giving more information about the various HVAC jobs available and the qualifications and attributes needed for them.

Here, we take a look at the role of a trainer. Typically these jobs are advertised as plumbing and heating trainer or air conditioning trainer.

Job description

An installer trainer instructs boiler installation engineers on how to carry out their job effectively. The largest employer of trainers is local colleges and independent training centres. However, many of the big domestic boiler manufacturers now have their own state-of-the-art training centres and employ specialist trainers to run sessions with teams of service engineers. This means manufacturers can keep engineers up to date with the latest product innovations and technical advances as well as developing their skills in installation, servicing and repair. Trainers tend to specialise in either heating or air conditioning when working for manufacturers. The key advantage of working for a manufacturer is that you’re always working on leading edge kit and you’re dealing with committed engineers rather than college students.

Day-to-day activities

Daily tasks include providing technical training to installation engineers about products, processes and systems. The role may also require some customer training.

Part of the role of an installer trainer is to develop training courses that keep pace with the creation of new technologies.

The training centres give installation engineers the opportunity to practise working on real boilers and learn about typical problems for their brand. Other activities of an installer trainer, therefore, will include developing the equipment and facilities on offer at the training centre.


Most installer trainers have previously worked as installation or service engineers, and all have worked in the HVAC industry for a significant number of years.

Previous teaching or coaching experience is helpful but not essential.

Skills and attributes

Excellent technical knowledge is vital but equally important is the ability to explain that knowledge in a clear and engaging way. Teaching requires top-class communication skills, both in terms of explaining information in a simple and understandable way, as well as listening to students’ queries and providing helpful solutions.

Installer trainers will usually have been service engineers themselves and this gives them a real understanding of the challenges and everyday tasks that face the engineers they are training.

The role of an installer trainer requires confidence speaking in front of an audience. An approachable and friendly personality is also vital in putting students at ease.

An ability and desire to constantly expand knowledge for the role is also vital in keeping up with the ever-changing industry regulations and advances in new equipment and systems.

Earning potential

An installer trainer typically earns between £35,000 and £40,000 basic salary depending on experience, with a range of additional benefits.

Job satisfaction

A training role can be very rewarding and enjoyable as the trainer has the opportunity to share the experience and expertise they’ve gained after years on the job. A great sense of satisfaction can be felt from helping others to learn new skills and technologies which will help them in their everyday jobs.

Working as an installer trainer is a great career progression for installation engineers who are looking to do something a bit different. But it’s not for everyone. Training can be demanding work and there’s a definite skill in conveying one’s personal knowledge in simple and understandable pieces of information.

An installer trainer usually works for one of the big domestic boiler manufacturers so there are usually lots of opportunities available through the company in terms of career development.

These companies are often also at the cutting edge of renewable technologies so installer trainers can be among the first to hear about these. Keeping up with new industry developments and passing that information on to students is key to the role, and this can make it interesting and exciting.

Find out more

If there’s something you’d like to know about the role of an installer trainer that we haven’t covered here, we’d be happy to help further. Or we could point you in the direction of HVAC engineer roles available right now. Call us on 0115 8714 777.

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