For this Cool Talk, we have had the opportunity to interview Ilona Pavšukova. Ilona is a marketing professional with a proven track record in the refrigeration and HVACR industry. Her expertise lies in crafting and executing most effective marketing tools that resonate with target audiences and drive engagement.
Why joining the Green Cooling Initiative?
Refra (opens in a new window) joined the Green Cooling Initiative primarily to promote and educate businesses and the public about ways that can help save our planet and reduce global warming.
Refra's business model is based on ecology itself. It was 10 years ago when the company decided to move towards green cooling and started the production of Refra’s first refrigeration units with natural refrigerants. Today, 80% of company's production is green and our future goal is 100%.
We therefore believe that the Green Cooling Initiative and Refra share the same goals.
What is your professional background and how long have you been working in this field?
I am a marketing manager at Refra and work closely with the sales and engineering team on a daily basis. My work includes not only the formation of Refra’s brand image, communication, but also the development of new standard catalogues, market research, and refrigeration trend monitoring. I am excited to be actively involved in the process of new product development, sales analytics and broadcasting an important message to the world - that we need to find a way to grow our business, live and work more sustainably.
To date, I have accumulated almost 4 years of experience as a marketing manager - 3 of them in the field of refrigeration. Before that, I worked as Head of Administration for 3 years in other fields, so I had to delve a lot into the internal processes related to personnel, administration, finance and legal matters.
How does your company contribute to making the RAC sector more climate-friendly? / Why are you committed to green cooling technologies?
Refra has been developing green refrigeration products for 10 years now and every day actively encourages businesses to choose ecological refrigeration solutions. We fully understand the impact the RAC industry has on the environment, so we do everything we can to minimize it. One of the main factors is refrigerants. Refra manufactures commercial and industrial refrigeration equipment with natural refrigerants. Most popular products are Propane chillers (opens in a new window), CO2 refrigeration systems (opens in a new window), Propane Heat Pumps (opens in a new window) and occasional non-standard units with ammonia.
When talking to customers, we always offer environmentally friendly solutions and highlight their advantages. We also strive to participate in educational activities that would help customers understand the broader benefits of green cooling. That’s why we write articles (opens in a new window), join ecological refrigeration movements and present natural cooling solutions in various events and fairs.
Where do you see the biggest obstacle for green cooling technologies at the moment?
Refra has most clients mainly in European, Scandinavian and Middle Eastern countries. We see trends that customers in Western Europe are already willingly choosing sustainable and ecological refrigeration equipment. It is currently more difficult in Eastern Europe, where these technologies are still relatively new and installers do not have as much experience in installing such systems.
There is also a prevailing belief that systems with natural refrigerants are more difficult to service and therefore more dangerous. We try to refute such beliefs. In one of our articles we talk about propane systems, their safety and superiority over synthetic refrigerants (opens in a new window). In fact, we can proudly say that not a single accident in our entire life of manufacturing propane refrigeration systems has been recorded.
We believe that new installation training focused on the service and installation of natural refrigerant systems would be a big step forward. Also, destigmatizing the established negative beliefs about natural refrigerants would help and we ourselves are trying to implement this.
What would an ideal cooling sector look like in the future?
An ideal refrigeration sector should of course have all equipment with ecological refrigerants and integrated sustainability systems in the refrigeration process and waste management. In the ideal case, it should be the case that the equipment ensuring the refrigeration processes and all related components, materials, and logistic chains have a minimal or non-existent impact on nature.
What makes you believe that we will master the transition to Green Cooling?
Personally, I am extremely optimistic about the company's internal statistics. Products sold with natural refrigerants take an increasing share of total sales every year. These statistics show that more and more customers are choosing green units and we are succeeding in our mission.
We also strongly support the debates currently underway in Europe on the possibility to ban harmful F-Gasses. Actions on this scale show that not only we, participants in the relatively small refrigeration sector, think about green cooling, but also a larger part of society in the world.
Speaking of safety: what would you say to people who think natural refrigerants are too risky to handle?
The Refra sales team often deals with these worries and questions from customers. As I mentioned earlier, you really should not be afraid of these systems. Modern refrigeration systems with natural refrigerants are designed with safety in mind. They incorporate advanced leak detection systems and safety protocols to mitigate any potential risks. Regular maintenance and proper installation of these systems are essential to ensure safe operation.