We begin our series "Looking Back" at the formation of Airmaster in 1988. Australia in the mid-80s was a time of excess, opportunity and of monumental technological change. Nothing was impossible. This was certainly the mindset of three friends and colleagues – Russell Seebach, Barry Page and Noel Courtney.
Having met while employed by the now-defunct air conditioning manufacturer Atlas Air, the trio made a leap of faith to leave their jobs and set up what was to become one of Australia’s leading HVAC service and maintenance contractors. Under their management and with two foundation employees, Gary Stott and Rod Falk (both would remain with the company for the next 30 years) Airmaster officially opened for business on 2nd February 1988 from a small factory in Ferntree Gully, in Melbourne’s outer east.
With an emphasis on service and relationships, Airmaster quickly attained high profile clients like Highpoint Shopping Centre and The Age building in Spencer Street. “We went from zero to a substantial business inside a month, and we had no trouble keeping Gary and Rod busy,” says Airmaster CEO, Noel Courtney.
Were it not for a last minute intervention, Airmaster might well have become known as Aircorp.
But recognising the need to create a name and brand that better conveyed superior service, Courtney came up with an alternative – Airmaster. “Russell is a magnificent administrator and a great general manager, and he really understands our industry, but he doesn’t have a marketing bone in his body!” says Courtney. To help him sell the idea to Seebach and Page, Courtney enlisted the help of a graphic designer and artist to develop the pitch with a range of name and logo options.
One of these was the familiar triangular “AA” logo that has since become synonymous with the company. But unlike the blue and grey logo we see today, the original Airmaster logo was gold and black. “I’ve always been a mad Richmond supporter, so I wanted the colours to be yellow and black,” says Courtney. “But back then, it was trendy to emboss business stationery with gold leaf, so we changed the yellow to gold and in the end it looked very smart.”