Starting off in a small suburban backyard garage seven years ago, AIR-CELL Insulation has consistently raised the bar on its products and customer service, to become Australia’s leading thermo reflective insulation company.

In 1996, Brian Tikey, now CEO of AIR-CELL, and his former partner John, established the Western Australian company Astro-Foil after Brian saw the potential in a crude bubble foil sample given to him by John. From this small sample, discussions commenced with an American manufacturer to produce Astro-Foil and the concept of thermo reflective insulation in Australia was born.

“We worked hard to improve the insulation from its original crude form to a product that would meet Australian building industry standards,” Mr Tikey said. “With the falling Australian dollar and the reluctance on behalf of the Americans to change the product, we had to look closer to home for a suitable manufacturer.”

In 1998, AIR-CELL began manufacturing the product in Australia under its unique first generation product specification. In the early days, AIR-CELL’s distribution was limited to a handful of retailers in Western Australia, three eastern state distributors, and their own home garage. After a successful first year, and with the confidence that there was a market for a clean fibre-free insulation, the partners committed to expansion plans.

“In the beginning, we were apprehensive about how builders and consumers would view the product, whether they would embrace it, or be inclined to stick to the more traditional fibre-based insulation products,” said Brian. “It wasn’t until the business reached a turnover of about $400,000 that we turned to each other and said “They like it!”. “Now with combined sales in Australia above $10 million dollars we know that they really like it!”

Later in 1998, AIR-CELL opened its first office in Perth and, without the space restrictions experienced in the early stages, began employing a team they believed would lay the foundation for a great company; people that could grow the business. “Strategic planning and people have always been the key to business development and the enormous gains we have made.” “Sure we have a great product, but perhaps more importantly, we have fantastic people working with us throughout the country.” said Mr Tikey.

“Our sales team keeps coming up with innovative applications where our thermo reflective insulation can deliver maximum benefit to our customers,” Mr Gibson said. “AIR-CELL products can be placed in the traditional wall, ceiling, roof and floor in residential dwellings but it also has unique commercial applications within schools, health clubs, indoor pool centres, showrooms and shopping centres, where energy efficiency and a fibre-free insulation medium are more desirable than traditional fibre based insulations”.

These days AIR-CELL can be found in Government, Defense and private sector projects throughout Australia, in addition to thousands of residential homes. One of AIR-CELL’s greatest supporters is the wine industry, who have benefited from a fibre-free, high performance medium installed in an environment susceptible to moisture difficulties. The insulation is also used to control vat fermentation temperatures by lining the chamber walls and pipe lines.

AIR-CELL’s export arm now makes up a significant proportion of its overall sales, with international distributors in Indonesia, The Philippines, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and New Zealand.

One of AIR-CELL’s main objectives is to ensure all Australians are aware of the insulation choices available in the marketplace, the benefits each of these bring, and the consequences of installing one product over another. “Of course we’re not going to say our products are the best on the market in every application, but in terms of delivering energy efficiency in a clean, fibre-free and non-allergenic way, we believe that we have very few equals.”

AIR-CELL’s staff are also passionate about motivating other members of the insulation and building industries to embrace the HIA’s GreenSmart program, believing it is a crucial step in sustaining Australia’s beautiful and natural environment. “Taking steps now to protect our environment is so important because if we don’t, our children and grandchildren won’t ever know how amazing, unique and beautiful Australia is.”

- Infolink Architectural online