Prihoda North America
Prihoda S.R.O. is a global company, dating back more than 20 years ago with humble beginnings of only two part-time employees. Over the past two decades Prihoda S.R.O. has grown into one of the largest suppliers of fabric ducting and diffusers in the world.
The recently formed North American division, Prihoda North America (Prihoda) is a family-owned and -operated business run by Andrew Sorenson, president and CEO. “Prihoda has a factory and global headquarters in the Czech Republic and that’s where founder Zdenek Prihoda started the business 20 years ago,” Sorenson says. “He exports into regions all over the world and finds a master distributor for the region.”
From there, the distributor establishes the company and takes care of the sales and promotion portion while the main factory takes care of the manufacturing, logistics, R&D, software development and literature.
Prihoda is a fabric duct manufacturing company that provides ducting and diffusers for HVAC applications in commercial and industrial projects. “Fabric ducting is a cost-effective alternative to metal ducting,” explains Sorenson. “It is a material that is made of polyester and inflates to shape. The product goes into applications that are commercial, light commercial and industrial. Most of the time it’s used in exposed architecture-type settings, but we can put it into raised floor plenums for underfloor air distribution, as well.”
“The advantages that textile air dispersion systems provide over metal are numerous,” Sorenson says with pride. “The product is very easy to install, you don’t have to paint it, insulate, or seal it, it’s cheaper in regards to labor costs, pricing and you don’t have to install registers or diffusers in the duct as the air outlets come pre-engineered and built in from the factory.”
Delivered in zippered sections allows the air socks to also be taken down and laundered for a hygienic solution, making it perfect for food industry. Sorenson notes that Prihoda’s slogan is: Tailor made air ducting and diffusers. “Every order is tailor made, because we customize the diffusers for each project,” he elaborates. “Very seldom are any two orders identical, because of the design flexibility the product offers to meet nearly any airflow situation or comfort level.”
Sorenson explains that the fabric duct has evolved recently into a more environmentally friendly product. “We have partnered with Unifi and are purchasing their Repreve yarn so that instead of virgin polyester we’re actually using polyester that is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled water bottles,” he says “Not only is it smart choice for the planet, it also makes the product eligible to contribute to LEED v4 materials and resources due to its 100 percent post-consumer origin.”
Furthermore, Sorenson believes that it is important for the company to take responsibility as a manufacturer and provide more environmentally sound products. “Sustainability and green building is the future and a core principle that we need to be involved in,” he details.
Sorenson began his career with Prihoda in 2013, but he has been working in the fabric duct industry for more than 10 years. “During my early discussions with Prihoda, I stressed the importance of using a rep network in order to expand the business in North America,” explains Sorenson. In order to build that rep network, Prihoda participates in many trade fairs and exhibitions around the world.
In the U.S. alone, Prihoda has attended the AHR Expo 2014 and Greenbuild International Conference and Expo 2014 (Greenbuild); however, Prihoda has also been to trade fairs worldwide.
In London, Prihoda attended Ecobuild 2014, in Prague, Czechia, the company attended Aquatherm Praha 2014 and in Nuremberg, Germany, Prihoda attended Chillventa 2014. “Germany is actually a big one for us,” Sorenson exclaims. “We’re the market leader in Germany so the Chillventa 2014 is a big show for us.” Currently, Germany is the No. 1 market for Prihoda.
Prihoda’s client list extends into many different avenues, including restaurants and various other companies within the food industry like Kellogg’s, Kraft Food, Dannon, agriculture and industry, such as Airbus, Toyota, Ferarri, storages, sporting facilities. Recently Prihoda delivered several miles worth of fabric duct for some of Amazon.com’s distribution facilities.
Additionally, Prihoda also manufactures and supplies for vehicles like the mainline train, military vehicles, ships and other confidential military uses. “We have been working with Goodlife in Canada, a chain of fitness centers, and they are exclusively using our product,” Sorenson details. Last year, the Prihoda factory sent out between 5,000 and 6,000 orders globally with the majority of all orders being manufactured in less than three weeks.
There is a lot about this company to fill Sorenson with a sense of pride. “When we started the North American division there was no rep network and we have since added about 30 reps,” Sorenson says. “The bigger our rep network gets it gives more solidification to the work that I’ve put into the business.” Every day the company is getting more requests and people are showing more interest.
The personal relationships that have been built within the company, as well as the rep network, are additional reasons for Sorenson to feel a sense of accomplishment. Even though still in its infancy stages, the North American division has already positioned itself in the top 10 distributors of Prihoda worldwide and is poised to compete for the top market within a few short years.
The biggest hurdle that Prihoda has had to overcome is convincing a generation to leave behind comfortable methods. “When you’re talking to an engineer it’s an easy sell when you talk about the benefits,” Sorenson says. “But sometimes when you’re talking to an older generation of engineers, contractors or even end-users it can be difficult to overcome their mindset of traditional metal ducting design.”
However, according to Sorenson, people do not remain skeptical of the product for long. “Once they witness how good it looks and that it actually delivers on every level, then those individuals are no longer reluctant, but eager to use textile diffusers on future projects,” he elaborates. “It is also important to note that Prihoda’s products are designed on proprietary software that is a powerful comprehensive tool to help designers visualize airflow speeds and patterns to achieve comfortable and efficient solutions. Backed by real world test results, lab testing, computational fluid dynamics and more than 20 years of experience Prihoda offers design assistance free of charge on the front end of a project, and guarantees the performance on the back end of the project, too.”
Sorenson notes that Prihoda is always trying to push the envelope and trying to innovate and create a better product. For instance, Prihoda was the first to use microperforation technology for laminar flow critical airflow, offer a negative pressure rectangular duct and has recently introduced a new type of air outlet that helps to rectify air outlet deflection without using nozzles or high design pressure. The new division has come far in only two years and will continue to grow and expand into a market leader due to Prihoda North America’s core competency of innovation, air distribution expertise and focus on providing actual solutions, not just selling products.
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