Thursday, June 13, 2013

Coming to America

U.K.'s A-Gas Plans Expansion Into North America

A-Gas’s acquisitions in the U.S. will set it up for a significant expansion into North America, including the international rollout of its refrigerant reclamation technology.

This year, A-Gas celebrates its 20th year in business, but no time in those two decades has been quite as busy as last year. The past 12 months have seen intense activity as the Bristol refrigerant distributor and reclaimer bought two U.S. specialists, Coolgas and RemTec, and set up a fully fledged North American division. The firm has transplanted U.K. managing director Ken Logan to oversee the establishment of the U.S. operations for the next two years at least.

The acquisition of the U.S. businesses, plus a further distributor in Australia, Technochem, has seen the A-Gas Intl. group top £100 million turnover for 2012, with a worldwide headcount of 237.

Acquiring Assets

“A-Gas is now the largest independent refrigerant player outside of the U.S.,” said Jon Masters, European managing director. “Our core territories are in the U.K., South Africa, and Australia, in each of which we have a 30-35 percent market share. So we were keen to try and take that offering to the U.S. — it was the right opportunity in terms of the business and the regulatory framework.”

That framework is the U.S. phase out of HCFCs and the probable phase down of HFCs, expected to closely follow the European Commission’s proposed F-Gas model — although progressive states like California are already bringing in more stringent rules.

The particular attraction of RemTec is that its core business is halon reclamation. Although these are largely from fire suppressants, this offers the right range of skills and technology to allow an expansion into refrigerant reclamation. This is where A-Gas brings its own skills to bear, said Masters. “We can bring our reclamation knowhow, and the benefit of the U.K. experience of selling the reclaimed HCFC product. The U.S. market is maybe four or five years behind Europe, but it is rapidly developing, and the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has announced more cuts in HCFC volume.”

The plan is for the RemTec operation to be brought up to the same standard for refrigerant reclamation as A-Gas’s Bristol facilities by the end of this year.

The commercial implications of the rapid cuts should not be underestimated; in the U.S. over the past year, virgin R-22 has increased in price from $3 per pound to $15 per pound.

Coolgas, by contrast, is a conventional refrigerant distributor, but again the purchase is strategic, providing a foothold in the Southwest, from which A-Gas can build, with a brand name well known to the American market. It also holds all-important import rights to HCFCs.

A foothold in such a large territory is a big deal in its own right, but the potential is far bigger. “The U.S. business is roughly the same size as the U.K. business, but whereas in the U.K. that brings a 30 percent market share, in the U.S. it is only 2 percent of the market. It should be easier to double from 2-4 percent than from 30-60 percent.”

If the plans for reclamation at RemTec go well, it could be joined by other sites. While the U.K. can function well with a single reclamation site, the scale of the U.S. is likely to require a network of two or three more. With reclaimed HCFC expected to be useable in the U.S. beyond 2020, that is an attractive long-term target.

Reclamation Technology

In a relatively short time, refrigerant recovery and reclamation has become a serious business for A-Gas. Its environmental services operations now account for around 20 percent of turnover (refrigerants is the largest proportion at 60 percent).

U.K. business director John Ormerod said, “What we do falls into two areas: cleaning up dirty gas by removing contaminants and separating out gases from refrigerant mixtures.

“We probably lead the world in refrigerant reclamation. There is only one other company in the U.K. and three in the U.S. who can separate refrigerants like we do,” he said.

The separation facilities at Bristol have come on apace since the pioneering days when its technology could be housed in a corner of the warehouse. The original plant is still in situ, but it has been joined by Separator 3, located outside the warehouse and large enough to be able to accommodate tanker-sized volumes of refrigerant, with a capacity to process around 400 tonnes a year.

Although the precise technology is secret, both plants are designed to reclaim refrigerant to Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 700 standards, as well as being able to split mixed refrigerants into usable batches and to reclaim individual gases from cocktails of recovered refrigerant. The latter is where A-Gas claims distinctiveness, as “the only supplier who has both the technology and the capacity to provide this level of service.”

Content for the European Spotlight is provided courtesy of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Magazine, London. For more information, visit

Publication date: 5/20/2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

NFPA - National Fire Protection Assocation

A-Gas RemTec is exhibiting again this year at NFPA! We are located in booth 433. Come see Patricia Burns, Taylor Kaufman, Terri AuFrance and Tammy Henck. 

A-Gas RemTec will be exhibiting today through Wednesday!

See you there!

FSSA - Fire Suppression Systems Association



The NFPA's Conference & Expo is June 10 - 13, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  Click here to view details on the conference and to register.  Stop by and visit us at the FSSA booth on the Trade Show floor. Booth number 1051.


The FSSA Technical Committee met on June 5, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  The minutes from this meeting may be found by clicking  here.

On May 7, 2013, the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. struck down the National Labor Relations Board notice posting rule that would require nearly 6 million employers, the great majority of which are small businesses, to post a workplace notice informing employees of their labor law rights—including the right to form or join a union.  The employer’s failure to post the notice would be an unfair labor practice and expose the company to other sanctions.  Several business organizations, including the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), which NAW helps manage, challenged the rule and its enforcement provisions in the DC federal courts.  The rule was issued on August 25, 2011 and has never gone into effect due to the DC appeals court grant of an emergency injunction to delay the enforcement date until this appeal is decided.  With the issuance of its May 7th decision, the NLRB notice posting rule and related enforcement provisions are nullified, absent any further NLRB appeals or a request for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (National Association of Manufacturers, et al. v. NLRB, No. 12-5068).
Rule Violates Employers’ First Amendment Rights
The three judge panel unanimously declared that the NLRB rule violates the First Amendment rights of employers against government compelled speech, by requiring employers to post the NLRB-mandated notice in the workplace.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s “leading First Amendment precedents have established the principle that freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what to say,” the court noted.  The rule also violates section 8(c) of the National Labor Relations Act which expressly precludes regulation of speech about unionization so long as the communication does not contain a threat of reprisal or force, or promise of benefit.
In this case, the business associations clearly objected to the message the NLRB has ordered them to publish in the workplace.  The poster is one-sided, favoring unionization, because for example it fails to notify employees of their rights to decertify a union, to refuse to pay dues to a union in a right-to-work state, and to object to payment of dues in excess of the amounts required for representational purposes.  Employers do have a right not to speak, the court held, noting that for example:
“…a company official giving a noncoercive speech to employees describing the disadvantages of unionization does not commit an unfair labor practice if, in his speech, the official neglects to mention the advantages of having a union.”
The court did not decide whether the Board lacked statutory authority to issue the notice posting rule—another legal argument advanced by the business associations.  Since the rule was nullified in its entirety on First Amendment grounds, the decision did not reach this argument.  However, two justices in a concurring opinion held that the rule was not a valid exercise of the Board’s statutory authority to issue regulations that are “necessary” to carry out the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act.
Noel Canning Decision Cited
In its opinion the court also raised the issue as to whether the NLRB had a constitutionally appointed quorum of at least three members when the Board’s notice posting rule was finalized.  In Noel Canning v. NLRB, decided on January 25, 2013, the same appeals court held that a recess appointment to the NLRB is constitutionally valid only if the appointment is made by the President during an intercession recess of the Senate, to fill a vacancy that arose during the same intercession recess.  Although the NLRB lost its validly-appointed quorum on August 27, 2011 when the chairman’s term expired, the court noted the Board did have a valid quorum on August 25, 2011, the date the rule was officially finalized with its filing in the Federal Register Office.  (On April 25, 2013, the NLRB asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the DC appeals court decision in the Noel Canning case.  That petition is pending.)
Appeal Pending in South Carolina Case
A second notice posting case is pending on appeal in the Fourth Circuit federal court of appeals.  In that case the South Carolina district court struck down the NLRB rule, declaring “There is not a single trace of statutory text [in the National Labor Relations Act] that indicates Congress intended for the Board to proactively regulate employers in this manner.” (Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. NLRB).


The FSSA Training program is live!  If you reserved a spot at the forum invoices were emailed in May. For questions regarding the training program or to reserve your space, please contact Vince Mullhausen at FSSA HQ.


The FSSA Education Foundation is now accepting applications for 2013-14 scholarships!  For more information please click here.  The deadline to submit applications is June 17, 2013.



The FSSA 32nd Annual Forum location is confirmed.  Mark your calendar for February 22 - 25, 2014.

Book your hotel reservations now at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort by calling 1-800-815-6397 and just mention the FSSA Room Block.  FSSA has a special group rate of $219/per night.

trade association, drawing members internationally. FSSA is a unique 
blend of designer/installers, manufacturers and suppliers working 
together to share ideas and strategies for the benefit of the fire 
suppression systems industry. FSSA members are dedicated to 
the highest level of safety, reliability and effectiveness of 
special hazards fire suppression.
The mission of FSSA is to promote the use of, and be 
the leading recognized authority on, special hazard
 fire protection systems; employing existing and new
 technologies to safeguard people, high-value assets 
and the environment.

Interested in passing along information on
FSSA to prospective members? FSSA has printed cards proclaiming "WHY Join the FSSA" with information on member benefits. If you would like a stack of cards mailed to you so that you can distribute them to your colleagues, please contact FSSA Headquarters.

Crista LeGrand, CAE, CMP
- Executive Director
Vince Mullhausen - Meetings & Member Services
Donna Liberto - Financial Manager
Jason Dumm - Financial Coordinator
(contact Jason for all membership dues & 
meeting registration payments or invoicing)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors

Certification Renewals

If you have earned a certification from the ICC/NAFED or NAFED certification programs, you know that they must be renewed every three years. Information regarding the renewal process, policies, and application is available from the NAFED website. By logging in to the website, you can verify your certification status and check your renewal date.

It is important that you include accurate information on your renewal application. Only check those areas that you are certified in. Some applications are received where all four areas of certification are checked off for renewal when the individual only holds certification in one or two disciplines. This delays the renewal process because we have to verify if the individual is indeed certified in all of the areas that are checked. This takes time and adds to the expense of renewal processing. If this practice continues, NAFED may have to look at charging a special fee for processing erroneous applications.

To expedite the renewal application process, it is recommended that the application include copies of certificates or descriptions of any education credits from the past three years that are being used for renewal. Failure to include this information could result in an application being held for a verification audit. This would delay the issuance of a renewal and depending on a licensing jurisdiction, could delay the applicant's ability to obtain a new license/permit from the state.

New Board Members Elected

NAFED has elected new board members for the 2013-16 term. Following the 2013 annual meeting in Chicago, NAFED instated three new board members who will serve out three-year terms:
  • Region Two Director: Bill Johnson, Mid State Fire Equipment, Lake Placid, Florida
  • Region Four Director: Bob Sorensen, FireGuard, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Director-at-Large: Daniel Laughlin, ProTec Fire Protection, Loganville, Georgia
Congratulations and welcome to our new board members.

Extinguisher Requirement Proposed Following Limo Fire

Following a fatal limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge in May 2013, State Senator Jerry Hill, representing San Mateo, California, has put forward a bill requiring fire extinguishers on limousines of less than 10 occupant capacity.

The proposed bill, SB-338 Fire extinguishers: limousines, adds the following text to the state vehicle code:
28062. (a) Every limousine shall be equipped with one fully charged fire extinguisher having at least a 4B:C rating.
(b) For the purposes of this section, “limousine” includes any sedan or sport utility vehicle, of either standard or extended length, with a seating capacity of not more than 10 passengers including the driver, used in the transportation of passengers for hire on a prearranged basis within this state.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Welcome Aboard Taylor!

Taylor Kaufman has been with A-Gas RemTec for almost 5 years as a part time employee while finishing her degree at The Bowling Green State University. She graduated with her degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development in December 2012. Taylor has since decided to join the A-Gas RemTec team full time. She will be focusing on the fire protection side of the business. We want to congratulate Taylor on graduating and welcome her on as a full time employee!

A-Gas RemTec always looks to the local University for part time employees to assist with updating our databases, reaching out to our customers to update their information and finding new leads. We want to welcome Trent Kaufman, Nick Grzebienik, Corine Fonseca, Kathy Suber and Rebecca Barth. We also want to mention our other part time employees that assist with the same tasks: Anita Brooks, Pat Payne and Jane Culpepper. This group of people really helps A-Gas RemTec develop our databases and customer relationships on both the Fire Protection and Refrigerant departments.