Cold Storage Spotlight:  Pacific West Refrigeration

A 25-ton electric Refrigerated Sea Water System. Photo: Pacific West Refrigeration.

One company helping propel the cold storage industry forward is Pacific West Refrigeration, which was founded in Sechelt, British Columbia in 1995. PacWest manufactures skid mounted Refrigerated Seawater Systems (RSWs) and freezer plates. 

PacWest, which came under new ownership in November 2022, moved to Ontario in June 2023.

The company is now owned by Gudgeon Thermfire, an Ontario-based manufacturer of thermal sand reclamation systems for the metal casting industry..

“(Gudgeon Thermfire) was looking to diversify and Pacific West was a very intriguing and impressive company. We saw a lot of technical crossovers between the two companies and thought that it would be an interesting fit. We’ve been at our London facility for 1 year and we are fully operational.” Pacific West Refrigeration President Justin Barfett told Fishermen’s News in early June.

The company’s founder and engineering talent behind all the systems developed by PacWest is Dave Nowell. In 1995, PacWest had a lot of success with freezer racks and hold systems supplying ultra-low temperature freezer systems to many commercial fishermen.

In 2000, Nowell engineered PacWest’s first turbo chiller, made with copper-nickel and designed for smaller operations using up to three-ton systems. In 2005, PacWest acquired Gunthela Enterprises and a superior freezer plate extruded using SCH 40 aluminum, which added more versatility in the field of low temperature freezing.

The company entered the Bristol Bay, Alaska market in 2009, servicing its fishing fleet. The company, which has a seasonal service technician and spare parts there, began manufacturing Refrigerated Seawater Systems designed specifically for the fishery.

The units built were mainly 7.5 ton compact RSWs that were designed to handle the rugged environment that comes with the territory.

A 10-ton hydraulic drive Refrigerated Sea Water System. Photo: Pacific West Refrigeration.

In 2009, Pacific West invented the titanium turbo chiller with a unique titanium coil which is completely resistant against saltwater corrosion. “Our technician serviced the first ever titanium turbo chiller last season and it looked the same as it did when it was manufactured in 2009,” Barfett said. 

PacWest then took this successful and proven design and branched out to manufacture systems of all sizes for marine applications across North America.  

Currently, even with PacWest under new ownership, previous owners Dave and Shelly Nowell are still involved with the company on a daily basis.

“For customer support and services, you can always contact me directly,” Shelly said, adding that the company has been a leader when it comes to making systems that fishermen can service in the field with guidance from our technicians over the phone. 

She also lauded the company’s freezer plates and the design of the aforementioned titanium turbo chillers.

“We’re the only ones with it, our chillers are a specialty to PacWest,” Shelly said of the design 

PacWest is currently building a new automated run test facility at its headquarters, “This new automated run test system ensures our systems are thoroughly tested and performing to our standard prior to shipping” Barfett said.

“It’s really important when you ship one of these units out that everything has been checked and thoroughly tested.”

Barfett said that when looking to buy Pacific West, what stood out was the quality and care that went into building each system. “Our mission is to continue to produce top tier RSWs for our customers and our new run test system is going to elevate our quality control and testing capabilities even further.”