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How to Start a Refrigeration Business

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If you have a knack for working with machinery and enjoy the culture of the restaurant industry, a refrigeration business might be a good option for you. Refrigeration work pays well, and there is always a demand for it among food service professionals who depend on their refrigeration equipment for the survival of their businesses. Refrigeration technicians need to be good at prioritizing and able to gracefully reschedule routine maintenance appointments in favor of more urgent repairs.

Obtain certification as a refrigeration technician. Find employment as an apprentice with a certified refrigeration business and work the number of hours that your state requires for you to obtain your refrigeration license. Keep a signed, written log of your hours. Once you have completed your apprenticeship, prepare for your certification exam by studying the textbook and reviewing sample tests online. Pay the fee and pass the exam.

Research the requirements in your state for operating a refrigeration business. Obtain all necessary business licenses as well as licensing, bonding and sufficient insurance. Register as an employer with state and federal agencies if you plan to hire employees.

Purchase tools for your refrigeration business, including basics such as hammers, wrenches, drills, pipe cutters and benders, acetylene torches and gauges to measure pressure and fluid levels. You will also need more specialized equipment such as voltmeters, sophisticated thermometers and manometers. Also purchase a stock of basic items that you will require to repair the units you service, such as different types of coolant, belts and specialized piping.

Advertise your refrigeration business in the yellow pages. If you guarantee prompt service any time of the day or night, state this prominently in your ad. Introduce yourself to other local refrigeration technicians and ask them to refer overflow business to you. Get to know the restaurateurs in your area and let them know you are available to service their refrigeration equipment. Offer maintenance packages that include low rates on routine maintenance and discounts on larger repairs.


Devra Gartenstein is an omnivore who has published several vegan cookbooks. She has owned and run small food businesses for 30 years.

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