Life-long industry figure Alan Watson has passed away at 97, having started out as refrigeration engineer for Frigidaire back in 1932.
Following his first stint at Frgidaire Alan volunteered for service in WW2 but was initially refused as he was in – what was termed – a ‘reserved occupation’. After much persistence he was accepted in the RAF as an aircraft engineer and spent 3 continuous years overseas in West and North Africa.
He was eventually repatriated in 1944 but with malaria, jaundice and hepatitis.
After WW2, with others, he attempted to set up a refrigeration service organisation but this was hampered by a shortage of much needed spare parts and it failed.
He then returned to Frigidaire - one of his early assignments was to assist Frigidaire distributor Trembath Refrigeration to establish an effective service organisation, which was eventually rolled out to other refrigeration companies across the UK.
He remained with Trembath Refrigeration as service manager and eventually advanced to become managing director of their Wholesale division. He was one of the early suppliers of BEJAM with fridges and fridge-freezers in relatively large quantities - something new in the industry. This eventually expanded to include others such as Currys and such like. Prior to this in circa 1964 he introduced the Admiral
Duplex (American side-by-side) fridge-freezer, which was a first and innovative product for the UK market - sold initially through Heals and Harrods (starting price in those days was from £136/5s).
At the age of 60 with ‘retirement’ looming - a word to which he had an aversion - he resigned from Trembath and set about starting Ocean Marketing (OM) which imported fridges and fridge-freezers for customers such as John Lewis.
Alan was always an ardent supporter of refrigeration and felt the benefits of refrigeration were somewhat taken for granted and underestimated referring to his early experiences with blood-banks; cold-stores; ice-rinks and the like. It’s probably fair to say there wasn’t much he didn’t know about servicing refrigeration products at that time.
He died peacefully on Friday 23 January 2015.