Heatec is a company that makes heaters for liquids and gases, liquid storage tanks and related products for use across a number of sectors. From oil and gas producers to asphalt plants and even food manufacturing, Heatec’s solutions have been at the heart of many contemporary industries since 1977. Whether a customer is seeking a thermal fluid heater or a polymer system, Heatec has can provide a comprehensive heating solution for a number of manufacturing needs.
The company now has a market share of approximately 70% on the asphalt and construction side of the business in North America. Heatec sales development manager Jerry Vantrease explains how this company keeps its market-leading position.
Can you explain exactly how Heatec’s comprehensive heating solution works?
JV: Heatec provides a number of different heating solutions, but our most popular product is the helical coil heater. A burner fires down the centre of our heaters and heats up thermal fluid, which then flows through the coil. For the construction industry, it’ll be a thermal fluid that is warmed up and then goes about heating the rest of the products in the asphalt plant.
Likewise, we might be heating cooking oil to prepare chicken parts for the food industry or we might be heating natural gas. Our technology has a diverse range of applications across different sectors.
What are the unique selling points of the company?
JV: Heatec provides packaged solutions. When we identify a need from a customer we try to put together a package of equipment that will fit that need. We have the capability to provide design, engineering, installation, and equipment manufacturing as part of the package. We want to be a one-stop shop for our customers when it comes to their heating and storage needs. We’re one of the few vendors that can supply everything that would be needed in a heating application.
We manufacture every part of the heater, including all of the electrical components – we have our own electric shop, we make the coil for the heater, we cover everything. There are some purchased parts, such as the burner, but the burner manufacturer is actually a sister company of ours as well.
This gives us exceptional accountability to our clients. If there’s a problem, there’s no question as to where the responsibility for fixing the error falls because we make the entire product.
Would you say that makes you superior to your competitors in this field?
JV: Absolutely – I don’t know of any competitors which cover all bases like Heatec. They may have a piece of equipment here and a piece of equipment there but they can’t put it together to make a full solution like we can.
What would you say the major issues are that you’re solving for your customers?
JV: One major issue for our customers is that they’re not only looking for quality equipment, they’re looking for someone that can support that equipment. They’re often running 24/7, so if something breaks down at 2 o’clock in the morning they need to know they’ve purchased their goods from a manufacturer that can respond to them and fix it. As a result, we offer round-the-clock support here, both in parts and in service.
Another issue, and I touched on this earlier, is providing the right equipment for the right application. Since we have such an extensive line of products we are able to identify the right solution based on the requirements of the customer. In some cases a bath heater might be right or a thermal fluid heater and heat exchanger package might better, for example. Both of these setups might work, but which one is best? We will look at everything from the required duty to initial and operating costs to determine the best solution.
People come to us all the time with unique needs. We do a lot of heating systems for asphalt plants and the oil and gas industry, but we have also done systems for sound deadening products, cannabis farms, underwater cabling producers, aerospace equipment, and even an alligator farm. We excel at those kinds of applications because of our experience and the versatility of our equipment.
What would you say the key trends are you’re seeing in terms of the products and services that your customers are wanting?
JV: They’re just wanting something that will run and which they don’t have to worry about. Our heaters are a good example of that – a customer starts the heater running, then it runs all day and all night and they don’t worry about it. Not having to constantly monitor a heater is just an unnecessary concern to have when you’re trying to produce asphalt to build a road.
Something else we see is the desire for more modern technology. Computerised controls, touch screens, and remote monitoring are all replacing the old push button controls and status lights. These new controls make things easier on the operator, like diagnosing problems that may have caused a shutdown.
The problem with the more advanced controls is they usually require more training to become more familiar with them. We offer training courses at our facility in Chattanooga, TN to help people better understand the equipment. We also offer on-site training for customers that request it. That’s another solution we try to provide for our customers and anyone else that operates process heaters even if they’re not made by Heatec.
What excites you about working for Heatec?
JV: I’ve been selling for 50 years. For me, what makes every day different and rewarding is meeting new customers, taking on the problems they have, and being able to fix them.