As the new chief executive officer of Advantage Refrigeration, LLC, Russ Dudan has been busy meeting employees, suppliers, and customers of the 16-year company, based in New Berlin, WI.

Dudan comes to Advantage Refrigeration from Modern Equipment Company, Port Washington, WI, a manufacturer of large furnace systems for aluminum and iron foundries. There, he served as director of operations and lean leader, and had oversight of lean improvement efforts, manufacturing, maintenance, purchasing, inventory control, and shipping/receiving. He succeeds John S. Gnas, who founded Advantage Refrigeration in 1995, and has now retired.

Advantage Refrigeration specializes in commercial and industrial refrigeration design, engineering, construction, and service. It provides its services throughout the Midwest, and employs about 45 technicians out of three offices, in New Berlin, Fond du Lac, and Marshfield, WI. Each branch provides engineering, technical, and dispatching support, to most effectively serve its customers.

"Since its founding, Advantage quickly established itself as one of the largest commercial and industrial refrigeration companies in the region," Dudan says. "I'm honored to join Advantage's talented management team, and I look forward to helping the company achieve its short and long-term business objectives, while building upon its strong customer focus."

Advantage services and installs standard refrigeration systems, but has also developed high-level designs since its founding. Its own design and production facilities, and inventory of pre-owned equipment bring added value.

"We work with the original equipment manufacturers' (OEM’s) latest products, and design systems for our customers that focus on efficiency, lower cost of operation, and reduced system cost, to give them the best solution," Dudan says. "Our long history has been in the DX type system, but over the last couple of years, our more progressive chains that are concerned about green and the enivironment have been switching to glycol-based systems. We've latched onto that, and have become experts in our field on design, installation, and understanding our customers' needs with glycol systems for their medium temperature applications."

"We're also working on new technology directly with the OEMs," adds Advantage's Sales and Marketing Leader, Richard Adkins. "The company's technicians have the field experience that OEMs find helpful and valuable."

"We install, start, and turn the system over to the customer and then service and maintain the system so it continues to operate at peak efficiency. With the ability to access systems remotely, we have developed internal communication tools for our technicians to diagnose issues before they go on the call. This saves the customer time and money. We know what the issue is, and have the right parts to make the repair," Adkins says.

Advantage Refrigeration is a licensed Hill PHOENIX dealer in the state of Wisconsin. Its Midwest-wide customer base includes Roundy's, Sendik's, Walmart, Target, Costco, Fresh Market, Outpost Foods, and others.

Accountability & Empowerment
Dudan uses a team management approach.

"I value a high level of communication and accountability." Dudan says. "When people need something to perform their jobs, I want them to be assertive, and pull it through the organization. We know what our customers expect, and are building our growth and strategic plans with our customer's needs at the forefront. In nimble companies, people need to be empowered to make decisions."

Dudan holds a Master's Degree in business and engineering management from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and a Bachelor's Degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He says his training and experience give him valuable insights.

"To satisfy our customers' needs, the needs of our employees and suppliers, and the growth plans for Advantage, I'll draw heavily from my team, and from my varied industry, technical, and leadership experiences."

Dudan is looking forward to a more prosperous economy, so the company can flex its technical muscles even more.

"As the economy picks up, we'll see customers get back on maintenance schedules, be more willing to remodel stores or open new locations, and embrace the more environmentally friendly alternatives which are available," he says.

Advantage Refrigeration is owned by The Freedom Group, a private investment firm.