Craft breweries and wineries may differ greatly from one another when it comes to the tastes and textures of their creations, but they all have the same need when it comes to keeping their products and ingredients cool. Eugene, Ore.-based G&D Chillers is just as committed to cold as its customers. The company specializes in manufacturing and engineering glycol-based chilling and refrigeration systems for the beverage industry.
The company was founded in 1989 by Dan Smith, a former supermarket refrigeration specialist. After retiring from his position, Smith started a vineyard, and was approached by a winery he supplied with grapes to make a chiller. After building a few chillers in his garage, Smith hired Justin Thomas, today the company’s president, who learned the business from him. Thomas purchased the company in 2006.
Today, G&D Chillers is one of the largest manufacturers of chillers serving wineries and the craft beer industry. Breweries, wineries, distilleries and cider makers comprise 70 percent of the company’s total business, with medical and industrial applications making up the balance. “We try to stay focused on a handful of industries so we can best understand their needs,” Thomas says. “We try to have some market diversity, but not so much that we lose our ability to serve our core customers.”
A Single Source
G&D Chillers offers its customers a line of single-stage, multi-stage, modular, large-capacity and portable chillers. All of G&D Chillers’ products are built with precision and usability in mind. “We’ve always stuck to building things that are very standardized and simple and not overcomplicated,” Vice President Andy Backer says. “Our units are user-friendly and can be serviced anywhere in the country by any refrigeration technician.”
The company’s philosophy of keeping its products standardized and simple differentiates it from many of its larger industry competitors, who provide systems of a more proprietary nature. G&D Chillers’ more than 20 years of experience in the brewery and winery markets also helps the company stand out. “Our customers have told us that they’ve worked with our competitors, and while their products may be fine, they didn’t understand the industry or their specific needs,” Thomas says.
In addition to its standard product lines, the company also has the ability to engineer, design and fabricate chillers for custom applications. This including meeting with customers to discuss their applications, providing clients with specifications, coordinating logistics and offering technical support.
The company added installation to its services five years ago. “We provide a complete package and one-stop shop when it comes to our customers being able to get everything they need from start to finish,” Thomas says.
G&D Chillers is also adding customer support staff. “A lot of smaller craft breweries don’t have much experience when it comes to refrigeration and the mechanical side of what we do, so we’ve brought people on board to assist them and make sure they’re taken care of from top to bottom,” Backer says. Service is offered on a 24/7 basis, and each product is backed with a one-year limited warranty.
G&D Chillers’ addition of installation and support staff reflects the company’s overall growth strategy. The company last year moved into a new, larger facility in Eugene that it plans to expand.
“We’ve experienced extraordinary growth and change thanks largely to our continued commitment to teamwork, and to our policy of placing the needs of our customers above all else,” Thomas says.
“We’re continuing to find new ways to advance our products in this evolving industry to ensure G&D remains at the top of our game.”