WESTON and Weston has had five locations, with their current Teatree Avenue premises the longest serving.
The business started out in Pine Avenue, at a shopfront and workshop next to the Murrumbidgee County Council building.
With business booming, a move was made to 1 Ridley Avenue (now Leeton Motor Group) and they painted the big shed their traditional green. However, the expansion was too much, too soon.
“We jumped ahead of ourselves a bit too quick,” Lionel Weston said. “Then we moved back just a few doors up from where we started. We were only there a year or two, then we went back to George’s (shed). We decided we had to go small again.”
When the business started servicing supermarket contracts, it prompted the move to the larger Teatree Avenue premises in 1998.
Weston and Weston has since expanded to Wagga Wagga and Albury.
The Albury store has been open for 12 months and after its first presence in Wagga in 2005, a shopfront was opened in 2008, first in a shed, then the main CBD and now on the highway on the western entrance to the city.
“Prior to that we were a Leeton company coming to Wagga,” Lionel said. “As soon as we started the shop, now we’re like locals. It’s just taken off.”
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Adapt to industry change
IT GOES without saying there have been changes to the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry since George and Lionel Weston first set up shop in Leeton in 1978.
While the basics of refrigeration haven’t changed, the number of refrigerated systems and how they are used has expanded, along with regulations.
“Cooling was a luxury, like an 80-inch flat screen or bigger today,” Lionel said.
“When we installed air-conditioners, people wanted it installed in the garden so everyone could see what they’ve got. Now, they don’t want anyone to see.”
“Nowadays, people go to the bank and it’s refrigerated, they go to the club its refrigerated, get in their car it’s refrigerated,” George said. “Society has got the point where you expect cold air when you walk into a mall.
“When we first moved down here not many people were putting reverse-cycle in. It was more the high-end people that could afford it.
“The market has matured now and more people demand reverse-cycle or refrigerated.
“It’s lifestyle … people want reverse-cycle. We just do reverse-cycle, or heat pumps as they are called.”
Air-conditioning can be a huge draw on power, but the use of technology such as an inverter and a timer system with thermostat, can mitigate some costs.
“When a normal compressor cuts in, it draws six times its power (to turn on),” Lionel said. “An inverter starts up half an amp at a time then when it gets closer to the temperature it slows down, it doesn’t actually cut off. That’s where your power saving is.”
Refrigeration mechanics is a specialised trade that crosses several fields.
“It’s a bit Johnny-come-lately, our trade,” George said. “Our trade is somewhere about 1950s and 60s. It doesn’t put us in with the mechanical fellas because of the compressors, or the electrical fellas because of the wiring, or plumbing because of the pipes.”
The Weston and Weston technicians not only train to work with specific brands, they also need to know about chemistry and WHS regulations, as well as issues such as Legionnaires disease and smog mitigation.
“The main thing that drives it all, other than the air-conditioning side, is the government with health, everything has to be the same temperature,” Lionel said.
“With accreditation and OH&S, all this stuff is changing.”
“You’ve got to have equal temperatures in an office block, a certain humidity and you’ve got to consider smog outside,” George said. “We have devices that cut that down. Another thing that has changed in the trade is the gases. A lot of the early gases destroy ozone. We get a fine if someone lets too much gas out, we’ve got to keep an eye on those things.”