ReportAir Magazine

Celebrating 30 years of innovation

Airvent has been providing clean and pleasant indoor climate in residential, commercial and industrial buildings for over 30 years now. We asked the founder and CEO Michael Pataki about the company's foundation, the milestones throughout the last three decades – and, of course, about the direction the company will take on from here.

You used to live and work in Sweden before the regime change in Hungary. Could you tell us about the background and process of starting a company in Hungary?

I went to Sweden in 1976 when I was 25, where I learned Swedish and English, then applied to university with state support. In 1982, I worked as a designer in an ventilation design office in Malmö, when I was approached by Lasse Lundeberg, with the request to design systems based on products distributed by his company Klimatbyrån into my work. I knew their products well, more precisely their market disadvantages compared to other manufacturers, so I made a proposal to improve and further develop the range. Our partnership was so successful that in 1983 Lasse invited me as a 50% co-owner and co-ceo. Klimatbyran still operates successfully today with around 36 employees. In 1984, we started outsourcing some manufacturing to the south central part of Hungary, from where we transported grilles, valves, sound attenuators, air volume controllers and plenum boxes to Scandinavia on a weekly basis. The Hungarian manufacturers were supervised by our colleague (and co-founder of Airvent) Gábor Zakupszky at the time, and I was commuting every week between the two countries. By the end of the 1980s – due to the outstanding quality of products – we achieved exponential growth, and we even managed to triple and quadruple the revenue from one year to another.

So, you manufactured with Hungarian suppliers first. Why did you have to change this setup?

The regime change caused unforeseen problems for the business. One of our Hungarian supplier was caught up in the wild capitalist atmosphere of the time, and started selling our products across Europe to other distributors, so we immediately sought a new solution for the production of our products. In 1990, we rented a few unused halls in the outskirts of Kecskemét, and in a few weeks, we launched production with 12 people. Airvent was established on the 19th October 1990. We brought the majority press bending and point welding machines and tools from Sweden to the new factory, but the painting plant was entirely built by ourselves. We managed to design and construct the most suitable technological process for electrostatic powder coating, which we still use today. Our production was developed quite dynamically in the following three months, the number of our staff increased from 12 to 30, and by the end of the first year we managed to achieve the same weekly production volume for the Scandinavian market, as our Hungarian suppliers had before the regime change..


We still have a continuous and very good business relationship with our partners from the 1990s.

People didn’t even know the name Airvent in Hungary at that time, did they?

That’s right. The year 1993 marked a turning point in the company’s life, when we started trading Airvent products as well as distributing associated parts in Hungary. We are proud that we still have a continuous and excellent business relationship with our partners selected in the nineties, such as Soler&Palau, Östberg or VEAB, just to name a few. We opened our first Hungarian office in Budapest, on the ground floor of a multi-storey house, with a small warehouse.

What challenges did you have to face as a new market player?

It was the responsibility of the newly joined sales engineers to market and inform designers, installation companies, investors and the public about our products. Whenever I was in Hungary at the time, I visited designers and installation companies myself together with the sales director or sales team. Our production and turnover increased exponentially over the first decade, so by the end of the 1990s we had 150 employees. We established commercial offices in Debrecen and Kecskemét around that time, followed by our representative office in Szombathely in the early 2000s. We managed to keep this momentum until 2008.


Michael Pataki

founder, chairman and CEO

After finishing his studies at a technical college in Sweden, he started working as a HVAC consultant engineer, which led to meeting Mr Lars Lundeberg, founder of Klimatbyrån AB. Lars and Michael joined forces in 1983 and later, in 1990,  founded Airvent in Hungary together. In addition to all achievements in the ventilation sector he has always been very passionate about horses, which led him to found Pataki Ménes, contributing to the cultural heritage of Hungary. He is a proud father of four, all of whom work in the organisation.

Kecskemét anno

The renovation of factory buildings commenced in 1996.


By then 360 people were working at Airvent already. What changes were introduced during or following the the financial crisis?

The construction industry took a hit in 2008, which took some time to recover from. Airvent was in a fortunate position, as the economy of Sweden and Denmark recovered relatively quick compared to other parts of Europe. The loss of turnover in Hungary was offset by our export market within a year, so we were able to retain our workforce during the crisis. We also tried to spend the years of the crisis usefully, as we had more focus and time to develop new products – establishing the momentum of our time.

How has the product portfolio expanded over the years? 

In the beginning, we mainly produced grilles, diffusers, boxes and sound attenuators. Products that could be manufactured in larger volume and for which we had the necessary tools and fleet of machinery. We have continuously improved the functionality of our products and the portfolio has always flexibly expanded and shifted according to the needs of the market. Our objective was to serve at least 80% of a complete ventilation project with our products – i.e., prevent the customer from going to other manufacturers for a missing product, if possible. Therefore, in the nineties we started to manufacture air handling units (at that time on the basis of the IV product license), which we mainly sold on the Hungarian market.

Kecskemét anno

This is where the history of Airvent began in 1990


Since then, the third generation of the Plex air handling unit series has been developed. What are the strengths of Airvent’s ventilation units?

The more stringent technical requirements have prompted us to consider the direction and possibilities of air handling from the ground up. We created a new frame profile, corner element and fitting mechanism (EasyLink), which is still unique on the market. We have used EC fans from the beginning, and we are also extremely proud of our own, Airvent designed CA-Plex automatic control solution. We are currently in the midst of designing the new generation of Plex ventilation units, which the whole team is excited about.

Is automatic control an important part of Airvent’s products?

The advent of automatic control solutions was born in connection with ventilation systems equipped with Airvent chilled beams. We have been producing chilled beams since 2003, and this area is still one of our core products. Chilled beams are an extremely elegant, efficient and well controllable product for which a room control unit was developed in 2010 (ControlAir). The room control unit was then complemented with our ventilation management system called SUM, to further minimize the energy use of the HVAC system while optimizing for the real-time demands. Since then, we have implemented all of these solutions in every new or refurbished office building we operate at Airvent, gathering large quantities of data and experience to further improve our systems.

The history of Airvent

From the seventies till now

1977 – Klimatbyrån in Sweden is founded

1983 – Michael Pataki becomes the part owner of Klimatbyrån

1984 – Cooperation with Hungarian manufacturers, sales in Sweden

1989 – Regime change in Hungary

1990 – Airvent Kft. is established, manufacturing is launched in Kecskemét Number of colleagues: 12

1993 – Domestic sales start, Budapest office opens Number of colleagues: 50

1998 – Airvent Zrt. is founded, ISO 9001 is implemented Number of colleagues: 120

2000 – Fourth office is established in Hungary Number of colleagues: 150

2008 – Air handling units and automation development Number of colleagues: 360

2014 – Netavent (VAV-specialist Danish company) joins the company group Number of colleagues: 380

2020Number of colleagues: 400

Looking back at the last 30 years of Airvent, what are you the most proud of?

Primarily, that Airvent’s growth and development has been sustained, apart from minor or major economic downturns. From the initial headcount of three we have grown to 400 employees today, having been able to maintain our workforce during the crisis. We can also be proud of the presence of Airvent products on almost every continent beyond Scandinavia, as we have shipped to the Americas and Asia-Pacific as well. This means that the appearance and quality of our products can hold their ground anywhere in the world. And last but not least, I am also very proud to have been a reliable, stable employer in Hungary, with low fluctuation. We have dozens and dozens of colleagues who have been working with us since the beginning, and it’s not uncommon for their children to join us either.

What kind of future do you think is ahead for the industry and especially Airvent?

One thing is certain, Airvent has a future – which is not obvious nowadays either. We have excellent employees across the board, highly skilled engineers, technicians, and a seasoned management team. Our experienced employees represent the quality and  innovation Airvent is known for, and the newly joined colleagues always manage to push the company forward in some way with their ideas and fresh perspectives. In my opinion, the turning point in the future of mechanical ventilation and HVAC in general will arrive when we finally and wholeheartedly address the effectiveness of systems. As I mentioned earlier, we have been investing and preparing for this change for some time now. Until the demand for greener and sustainable ventilation solutions does not reach a tipping point, it is our obligation to further widen the scope, and educate our partners, customers and all other stakeholders.

— Kecskemét, Hungary 2020.