Carly Wills, Editor ECN Magazine, speaks to Louis McGarry, Sales and Marketing Director, Centiel UK about life at the company and its plans for the future. 


Tell us about yourself and how you got into the sector

I studied design engineering at Bournemouth University.  It was a tough degree and certainly wasn’t a popular subject!  The intake started with around 30 students which dwindled to 15 by the end of four years. Compare this with a subject like media studies which seemed to attract and retain hundreds of students, it’s no surprise that there is a shortage of engineering talent throughout the UK.

Like most people, before entering the sector, I’d never heard of a UPS system!   Throughout university, I worked with a technical recruitment consultancy, which is how I came across the UPS industry.  One of my colleagues, who knew I was due to graduate with encouraged me to attend an interview with a UPS reseller for modular UPS technology.   I was asked to read a book titled “The UPS Handbook” in preparation for a test and interview.

The person interviewing me was one of the original authors of The UPS Handbook, David Bond, now CENTIEL UK’s Chairman.  Interestingly, he is the very reason that I am now part of the CENTIEL team.

The engineer in me became fascinated with the technology behind UPS systems, and the salesperson needed to find out more about the UPS market.  As I developed into an external Sales Engineer and eventually Sales Manager, I began to work with clients in a variety of sectors, from Banking to the MOD to Formula One Teams.

I went on to gain more than a decade of experience in the UPS industry working for various resellers and manufacturers, learning the difference between UPS technologies.  Fast forward to 2017, and I saw an opportunity to reconnect with the team that introduced me to the market and to be part of something different. CENTIEL had been on my radar for some time and when the UK subsidiary was launched, I knew it was time to make my next move. I joined CENTIEL to be part of something at the very forefront of the industry, and to help grow the brand, the team and UK market share.   I am now the sales and marketing director for CENTIEL UK having cemented the brand as one of the leading UPS manufacturers and maintainers.


For those who may not know, can you give us an overview of the work that Centiel does?

The team that developed the first transformerless UPS and the first true modular UPS are the founders of Swiss-based manufacturer, CENTIEL.  This team has now been developing true modular architecture for over three decades.  Now on its fourth generation, there is a proven track record for quality and innovation.

CENTIEL’s range of energy efficient, UPS systems offers the highest availability and reliability. This latest generation of true modular UPS CumulusPower is designed with Distributed Active Redundant Architecture (DARA).  This means that downtime is closer to zero than ever before.

CumulusPower has now been installed in datacenters and comms rooms in over 60 countries across five continents.  More than 50 MW of critical power loads are now protected with CumulusPower in locations across the world including:  the UK, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, and the Channel Islands.

In the UK, our highly experienced team act as trusted advisors working with clients, contractors and consultants to develop optimal UPS systems to maximise availability, reduce total cost of ownership and meet specific needs.


Tell us about your current role – what are you responsible for and what does the normal working day consist of? 

The critical power industry isn’t a 9-5, and I don’t have a set routine. Every day can be different!  I’m hands on.  You’ll often find me at customer sites conducting surveys, technical presentations, supporting consultants in design meetings, and I am also heavily involved with essential project work. I like seeing my recommendations from design stage through to implementation and also maintaining a relationship with the client for the lifecycle of that product. I take pleasure in knowing these systems are still there to this day, supporting clients.

Ultimately my responsibility is to oversee sales and marketing for the UK.  Our goal is to share knowledge and understanding with customers to help them make informed decisions about their power protection needs.  Every member of the CENTIEL team is key to promoting the brand which was successfully launched five years ago in the UK.  In addition, we focus on continuously improving the way customers think about UPS applications and how they can ensure they have the highest quality and levels of protection.


What are the best things about your role? What are the most challenging?

People and people!  I thrive on helping our clients understand the options available to them so they can make the right decision about power protection.  It is fascinating and rewarding learning about different businesses and responding to different needs so clients can make the right choice.

The most challenging part of my role is usually gaining buy-in.  No two, customer decision making units are the same.  You need empathy, understanding and awareness to uncover and meet different needs and expectations.  For us it’s never about just making a sale but doing the right thing for that customer, so people and businesses benefit long-term.


How has COVID-19 affected the industry?

The Pandemic has had a global effect with far-reaching consequences.  However, the UPS industry has remained solid.  Covid has highlighted a greater reliance on essential services including information technology and data infrastructures which require critical power protection.  Some sectors such as medical have grown, and we installed our UPS solutions in some high-profile facilities at very short notice during the height of the Pandemic.  It was a privilege to be able to see our kit providing the backbone power protection, helping to support the equipment used to save lives in an unprecedented situation.  Other sectors where businesses were quieter, teams wisely took the time to re-evaluate systems, undertaking remedials and replacements.

From CENTIEL’s perspective, we were able to adapt to the changes in working practices rapidly.  We continued manufacturing and deliveries were unaffected.


What’s next for you and for Centiel?

Growth, both in the UK and globally. In the past five years we have established several subsidiaries, the UK being one of them, expanded our manufacturing capability twice and built a network of over 60 partners.   We are now one of the fastest growing UPS manufacturers in the industry.  I want to continue to grow the brand and to find the next generation of talented, passionate individuals to develop the UK team further. We have the skill set to nurture talent so it would be great to see staff coming up through the ranks which supports developing longevity of relationships with our clients over the years.


What do you think are the most exciting products or technologies coming to the market?

Transformerless technology and the introduction of true modular will always be the most exciting technological advancements we will see in the UPS industry. This was revolutionary and we now have UPS systems that – dare I say it – are near perfect! This technology is here to stay and is trusted by clients from the MOD, banking and medical sectors and everything in between!

As innovators, we will of course continue to make enhancements to the products but for us, the big, exciting changes will be more around how the solutions are deployed and managed.  For example, through containerised solutions for facilities with limited space, or a true modular UPS that can be wheeled into a localised environment, bringing a whole new meaning to plug and play UPS systems.  Our technology has been designed for bespoke and agile applications, recently we upgraded our well known true modular solution from a 600kW frame to 900KW overnight to suit the needs of one customer.  The future won’t be about leaps in new technology but rather the flexible way we can meet the varied needs of individual organisations to improve availability and reduce cost of ownership.


Originally featured in Electrical Contracting News Magazine November 2022.

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