The book ‘Unicla and the Midnight Technician’ chronicling more than five decades of Unicla International company history and stories of people involved, was officially launched last week with a small event at SuperCool Group’s global R&D centre in Ormeau, Queensland.
Author and SuperCool Group MD Mark Mitchell, a major Unicla shareholder and Director of Global Marketing and Technical Support for the compressor manufacturer, delivered a speech to 55 attendees among whom were numerous identities from the Australian air-conditioning and refrigeration industry.
In his presentation, Mitchell also made a point of talking about figures in the Unicla story – past and present – who had been unable to attend due to pandemic-related travel restrictions and explained how a number of the compressor manufacturer’s employees in Hong Kong and China had been prevented from travelling domestically for the past year.
He described Unicla and the Midnight Technician as “a story of how to stay fit, survive and keep going in a cutthroat industry where big business sets the agenda”.
Looking back at the time when “an Aussie guy and a Hong Kong guy bought a company in Japan and moved it to China”, Mitchell described the affair as “crazy”.
“Would I do it again? Probably yes,” he quipped, adding that he would apply all the hard lessons learned from his experience with Unicla.
Among the anecdotes delivered in Mitchell’s speech but not found in the book were the story of his first meeting with Unicla founder Tetsuo Nobata – entering as a young know-it-all air-conditioning fitter then leaving with the realisation of how little he really knew – plus how he had come perilously close to deleting an email enquiry that ended up being pivotal to the company’s trajectory.
Drawing his talk to a close, Mitchell revealed the origin story of why he had titled the book “Midnight Technician”.
Remembering the early days of aftermarket automotive air-conditioning, when demand was so high that technicians would work late into the night he said, “if you were fitting a kit at midnight you wanted it to be a Unicla kit because they just went straight in and they just worked”.
Knowing that service technicians still work through the night, when the next-generation eDrive compressors were first being developed Mitchell’s son and company General Manager Jon insisted that the new product would have to be easy to diagnose and repair in the middle of the night, with no components that could not be replaced in less than 10 minutes.
As a result, the eDrive project was internally codenamed Midnight Technician.
Fittingly, the first production eDrive compressors shown publicly in Australia were on display at the book launch event.