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Q&A: John Elliott MBE DL, Chairman of Ebac

Ebac was started as a business in 1973 by current Chairman John Elliott MBE DL. We spoke to John about its continued success and its offering in the heat pump sector.

Could you give us a brief overview of Ebac’s history?
JE: The company is fundamentally a manufacturing business that is focused on giving customers what they want. We started by making dehumidifiers for the construction sector. This was followed by domestic dehumidifiers and then water coolers. Both of these products were ideas that were adapted American products for a UK/European market. We also produced special purpose air conditioning for defence and trains.

How can your products contribute to better living conditions?
JE: In recent years there has been a shift in terms of the use of fossil fuels and there is no doubt that the future supply of energy to homes will be electricity. Heat pumps are already the best heating mode where mains gas is not available. Unfortunately there are many urban myths on heat pumps. These include that heat pumps cannot produce hot water, they can only be used in a well insulated home, they cost up to £20,000 etc.

What prompted the decision to move into heat pumps?
JE: We built our first heat pump for a home built by Bovis at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynllreth. This was more than 30 years ago. We revisited heat pump design in 2013 when technology, especially on compressors, made them more energy efficient. We paused the heat pump project because at that time the demand was relatively small.

What sets your heat pumps apart from the competition?
JE: Our heat pump is the more energy efficient at UK conditions than any other. We have 30 years’ experience making dehumidifiers for the UK market. This means we understand UK customers and the UK climate. We also believe it is more aesthetically pleasing.

Does being an engineer by trade give you an advantage when it comes to product development?
JE: To get good products, first and foremost we need to understand the needs of the customers and this is not as simple as it may seem – especially if you have an engineering background. However, an engineering background is essential to make the right product at the lowest cost.

What does UK manufacturing mean to you?
JE: I am passionate about UK manufacturing because we will never have a strong economy until we make more of what we consume. Borrowing money to fund imports is one of the reasons the country’s finances are so weak. However, as a UK manufacturer we must be competitive and give good value.

How does the Ebac foundation function within the business structure?
JE: The company is currently owned by an employee trust. This does not affect the way the business is run. We are a commercial organisation that succeeds by having satisfied customers and profitable products.

For more information on the full Ebac range of products, visit www.ebac.com

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