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Natural Leadership

Built on Willis Carrier’s extraordinary invention of modern air conditioning and his unyielding commitment to innovation, Carrier today is a lean, focused company meeting the needs of local markets with global resources, and leading the industry with products that delight customers while protecting our fragile environment natural leadership for the 21st century.

What began as a flash of genius in a young engineer’s mind has become a vibrant multibillion dollar industry. Since its founding, Carrier has led the world in commercial air conditioning applications and in residential year-round comfort. The company’s equipment controls climates in the world’s essential industries, tallest buildings and grandest theaters, and in homes of every shape and description. The company enables the international transportation network to ship and display for sale fresh and frozen foodstuffs globally. 

Very few industries survive to the century mark. Fewer still can define themselves as “growth industries” more than a hundred years after their origin. Modern air conditioning, invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 and transformed over the decades into the business of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration, is one of those exceptional few. 

Through it all, Carrier has focused—in the defining spirit of its founder—on continually innovating to create elegant technology solutions for what are fundamentally human problems. In short, Carrier invented the industry, and continues to reinvent it every day. 

By the mid-1990s, for example, the company was expanding globally into adjacent segments of refrigeration. The result was a doubling of revenue to more than $8 billion. Then, as Carrier re-emphasized its core businesses, it added new growth platforms around controls and energy services.

From the first international sale of air-conditioning equipment in Japan in 1907, Carrier has achieved success in international markets by being first and building strong local partnerships. This strategy, practiced today in places like China, India, the Middle East and Latin America, continues to create growth markets for Carrier’s products and services.

China is a shining example. By 1994 Carrier had signed agreements to form seven joint ventures in this huge, emerging market.

Within a decade, Carrier equipment was a vital part of some of China’s most visible installations, including the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and, in 2005, the ancient Hall of Treasures and Hall of Clocks at the Beijing Palace Museum. With the company’s success at the Barcelona and Athens Games, Carrier secured 70 percent of the climate control projects awarded at the 2008 Beijing Games.

India presents another exceptional growth market for Carrier in the new millennium. Carrier began manufacturing there in 1988, and by the mid-90s had established a formidable distribution network including 290 exclusive dealers. In 1993, Carrier Transicold began serving the transport refrigeration business in India, where today it enjoys a leadership position in the industry with a large network of service dealers and parts distribution.

In 1996, Carrier won an important order to air condition the new Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, followed by the contracts to provide refrigeration for the HyperCity superstore in Mumbai in 2006, air conditioning for the Delhi International Airport in 2008, and cooling for apartments that housed athletes participating in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Also that year, ITC Hotel Royal Gardenia in Bangalore became Asia’s first and the world’s largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-rated “green” hotel, thanks to Carrier.

A fundamental theme of Carrier’s natural leadership in the 21st century is its continued commitment to environmental sustainability. In 1996 the company launched the Evergreen® chiller, the first centrifugal chiller to use non-ozone-depleting refrigerant. In 1998 Carrier introduced the Puron® brand, also a non-ozone-depleting refrigerant—six years before the next competitor.

Carrier was instrumental in launching the U.S. Green Building Council® in 1993 and was the first company in the world to join the organization. Carrier became the first heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) manufacturer permitted entry into the “Climate Leaders Program” by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003.

Later, the company was appointed as a formal international advisor to the China Green Building Council and sponsored the Moscow 2008 Green Buildings Conference. In 2009 Carrier was invited to be a founding member of the Singapore Green Building Council, and the next year pledged more than $1.5 million to establish the Willis H. Carrier Total Indoor Environmental Quality lab, a 10,000-square-foot facility in the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems designed to provide cutting-edge research into the factors that affect human health and performance in building environments.

In 2004, Carrier introduced its first CO2 system for commercial refrigeration and today supports more than 300 stores in northern Europe using CO2OLtec™ systems, while in 2010 the company announced NaturaLINE, the container refrigeration industry’s first natural refrigerant technology.

In another equally transformative initiative, Carrier’s Internet home page opened for business in August 1996.

Today, Carrier is fully involved in using Web-based commercial tools to improve operating efficiency and enhance the customer experience, and has launched social media tools to complement its traditional advertising channels.

Throughout this entire period, Carrier continued to complete high-visibility, pioneering installations around the world. In 1996, the company captured contracts for the tallest building in Hanoi, Vietnam, the largest commercial complex in Hong Kong and the busiest casino in North America. It helped to preserve John Lennon’s guitar and Elvis Presley’s black leather stage outfit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland, and cool 22 tanks with more than 4,000 fish at L’Aquarium Barcelona, the most important man-made underwater sanctuary for Mediterranean species. In 1999 Carrier won the order to air condition the largest commercial building ever built in Ghana—the Millennium Plaza in Accra—that would become the most energy-efficient and environmentally responsible in the country.

How Can We Make It Better?

In 2004 Carrier acquired Linde Refrigeration from Linde AG, bringing together a pair of stellar global brands. Carrier President Geraud Darnis remarked, “The two companies balance each other well geographically, in product and service ranges, and in a shared focus on environmentally sensitive technology.” Today, the Carrier brand remains a leader in commercial refrigeration, built on the inspiration of Carl von Linde and Willis Carrier.

Carrier also continued acquiring and partnering to build its presence around the world. In 1999, Carrier acquired International Comfort Products Corporation, a Nashville, Tennessee, maker of residential and commercial HVAC systems. On April 1, 1999, Carrier and Toshiba, the largest air-conditioning player in the Japanese market, formed a joint venture—Toshiba Carrier—that provided significant product and distribution advantages to both companies and their customers globally. In 2004 Carrier acquired Linde Refrigeration, adding the commercial refrigeration expertise, brand and reach of this storied company, and in 2008 added NORESCO, a leading energy services company, and Environmental Market Solutions, Inc., a green building company that helped the Beijing Olympic Village become the first project in China to achieve LEED® Neighborhood Development certification.

On July 17, 2002, more than 300 million people around the world opened their newspapers or turned on their televisions to learn about the 100th anniversary of Willis Carrier’s invention of modern air conditioning. 


Fittingly, it was a sunny, warm and humid day in Brooklyn, New York, about 10 miles from that first installation, where Carrier executives gathered with New York education officials at the W.E. Grady High School to dedicate the new Willis H. Carrier Academy. Supported with a $100,000 grant from Carrier, the academy offered high school students a three-year program in heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technology. Carrier Corporation’s support of the academy honored Dr. Carrier’s lifelong appreciation of and commitment to education.

In the centennial year of 2002, Carrier grew to $8 billion in revenue, completing a century as the world leader in heating, cooling and refrigeration.

As the first decade of the 21st century came to a close, Carrier established ventures with partners in Australia, Europe and the Middle East.

Also that year, Carrier’s Monterrey Commercial Plant became the first facility in the global heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry to be LEED Gold certified.

Carrier also continued to innovate, expanding into the growing sports complex industry with important indoor venues in Beijing, Shanghai and throughout Europe, cooling the new Muscat International Airport in Oman, and launching the Vector 1550 trailer refrigeration unit featuring all-electric technology to lower energy consumption and enhance environmental performance.

In the new millennium—110 years after the historic installation of modern air conditioning at a printing plant in Brooklyn—the prospects for Willis Carrier’s invention have never been so promising.

The Coolest American of the Century

As the 20th century drew to a close, commentators sought to assess the impact of technology and enterprise on the waning century. It was little surprise that Willis Haviland Carrier once again became a global celebrity.


In 1998, Dr. Carrier was featured in TIME magazine’s “Builders & Titans” as one of the 100 most influential business geniuses of the century, joining the ranks of Henry Ford, IBM’s Thomas Watson, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Walt Disney.

The following year, U.S. News & World Report named Willis Carrier one of 25 Americans who shaped the modern era, reminding readers that “Carrier, the ‘Father of Air Conditioning,’ is the man who made the Sun Belt—as well as the factory, the movie theater, and the modern home—tolerable in summer.”

In 2000, members of the Society for American City and Regional Planning History ranked air conditioning as one of the top 10 influences on the American metropolis in the last 50 years. Also that year, the National Academy of Engineering selected the 20 greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. The main criterion for selection was, the academy said, not technical “gee whiz” but how much an achievement improved people’s quality of life. Air conditioning finished in the top 10, along with the likes of electrification, the automobile and airplane, the telephone, radio and television.

Willis Carrier’s invention had a profound impact during his lifetime, but became even more pervasive with each passing decade following his death in 1950, causing U.S. News & World Report to call him “the coolest American of the century.”

Meeting Willis Carrier: 65 Years of Inspiration

Located 24 kilometers from the east coast of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain experiences summer afternoon temperatures that average 40°C (104°F). Before the introduction of air conditioning, many Bahrainis slept on the roofs of their homes during the hot summer months as a way of staying cool.

That would all change in 1949 when Yateem Air-conditioning, under the guiding hand of Husain Ali Yateem, became Carrier’s distributor for Bahrain. Husain had visited the Carrier Igloo at the New York World’s Fair a decade earlier and experienced for the first time the promise of air conditioning. After a personal meeting in 1946 with Dr. Carrier, Husain returned to Bahrain with a Carrier-brand ice-making machine, the first in that country.

“I still remember my meeting with Dr. Carrier,” said Husain. “He was very impressive, and remains an inspiration to me even now, sixty-five years later.”

Born in 1914, Husain hails from one of the most distinguished families in Bahrain. After studying for four years in England, he returned at age 16 to assume leadership of his family’s business, a company known for the import of cement and building materials, and later instrumental in setting up the first oil production in the country.

Over the years, Yateem Airconditioning has been responsible for a number of important commercial and residential projects in Bahrain. One of Husain’s most memorable was completed in 1960 at the Ruler’s Palace. “The designer forgot to factor the large reception room chandeliers into the heat load,” Husain smiled. “The Sheikh would purposefully invite me to all major receptions, and when guests where sweating profusely would come over to me and whisper ‘Your air-conditioning system doesn’t work. When are you going to fix it?’” Husain laughed. “Eventually, a compromise was made!”

Today, Yateem Airconditioning is Bahrain’s largest specialized air-conditioning contractor, dedicated to both the development of Bahrain and the preservation of its natural habitat. In 2010, Arcapita Bank became the first LEED-certified building in the country, thanks in part to the talented team at Yateem Air-conditioning, Husain’s personal leadership, and an inspirational meeting with Willis Carrier over a half-century before.

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