Posted by Matt Register

We spoke to Lauren Berenato, Sales Engineer for ThermOmegaTech, while at ValveWorld Americas in Houston. We talked about cultures on innovation and family business.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: Welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio, TexasBusinessRadio.com is the Web site. We’re down here at the George R. Brown Convention Center at the ValveWorld Americas 2017. We’re learning about valves. We’re learning about the valve industry and all the places these valves are applied to. It’s been a fascinating show. We are not done yet. So get your calls in. 844.814.8144 is our 24 hour call-in line. That means call in now, call in at three o’clock in the morning, it really doesn’t matter to us. We’re going to get the experts on here to get your questions answered. One of the things we absolutely love about mid-sized businesses is the culture of innovation and the ability for companies to find a need in the market, identify how to build a product that solves that problem, and all of a sudden they have a business and a line of business that never existed before. I love it. We’re going to get into that here in just a second. I am your host, Matt Register. Jay Curry had to step out for just a second. I’m here with George Walden. George, talk to me.

George Walden: Well I’m really looking forward to this episode and that we’re talking about family legacy, about business that has been passed down to their family members. I met the founder of this business years ago. A great guy. Unfortunately, he’s passed away and it’s moved on down to the family and I love these types of stories. That’s the American story.

Matt Register: Yeah, no doubt about that. ThermOmegaTech is a company actually based in Pennsylvania but builds valves and really safety type products for all kinds of industries all over the country. And we have their sales engineer, Lauren Berenato. Lauren welcome to the show.

Lauren Berenato: Thank you both so much for having me.

Matt Register: So tell me about ThermOmegaTech. What do you do? Who do you do it to?

Lauren Berenato: Sure. I mean do lots of things which makes our company really unique. We serve many industries but how we got our start is that we began manufacturing these valves, which are founder of the company Fred Perkel invented. It’s called the GURU valve that goes on Class 1 locomotive engines and how it operates is that, all of our valves have a paraffin wax inside them inside of them, thermal actuator that we make in-house. And as the class on locomotive engine is calling it cools by having water dumped on the engine. And the problem with that these engines freeze and when they freeze it expands and causes thousands of dollars in damage. So these valves here you place at the bottom and as the water begins to descent. Begins to fall down and go towards 40 degrees. These valves open and allow the water to dump out. So that’s our company got our start and we have 90 percent share of class 1 locomotive engines in North America and then we moved on to freeze protection in other areas. We serve a lot of industrial applications for a lot of industrial facilities, warehouses, anything that’s outdoors and can have freeling or scalding. So that’s another.

Matt Register: And it’s really it’s really safety equipment right. It’s something that that will open a valve or close a valve if it will right depending on if something is getting too hot, or something is getting too cold. And what it allows it to do is keep people from getting injured, keep the equipment from getting damaged and is something that is, you know, needs to be a part of a tremendous amount of stuff in industry and it really is in the safety industry right.

Lauren Berenato: Yes. So we have 70 percent share of safety to our business in the country. Our scalled protection valves as well as our production valves are in there. So when the line that is feeding towards a safety shower that has to be held at a tempid water temperature as it begins to sense that it’s no longer tempid whether it’s too high or too low. Our valves will modulate open or modulate close to allow flow throughout the line. But the thing that’s great about our valve is that they require no external power source. All the power comes from the paraffin wax inside the thermal actuator of all of our valves and all of our valves of the same guts. They all have an actuator, a spring, a piston, and a valve body. They just go into different applications.

Matt Register: Now it makes all the sense in the world. If you’re watching from TexasBusinessRadio.com you can see some examples here on it on the table. I find it fascinating when, because we talk on the show all the time about you have to vary what you’re doing, you have to expand the number of industries you’re serving. You have to expand your product line. You have to, I mean that’s safety, if you have all your eggs in one basket, you are at the mercy of that particular industry. Here in Houston and in Texas, the oil industry has been a bloodbath for the last couple of years and the companies that have been concentrated in those areas are really hurting. You guys have developed a culture in your company to where you were constantly out looking for problems that you could solve. And so talk to me a little bit about what we were talking during the break, and I really want to learn about this. You have some barbecue valves. You know I got to tell you this is the first time I realized that barbecue required valves extensively. But tell me a little bit about the barbecue valves that you guys have developed.

Lauren Berenato: Yeah. That’s great. As the founder of our company, Fred Perkel, who is from just outside San Antonio, we like to say he was a mad scientist and that his science range anywhere from industrial application to mechanical but his passion was where his heart was in Texas and he was loved to cook. But as many of you know the problem with cooking is you have no idea of the temperature of the smoker. So he took the science that he used towards these valves right here in front of me and applied that towards the port on your grill or a smoker which allows you actually created probes and a fan that when you sense that the temperature is rising too much or falling too much that it would activate the fan activate the probes to maintain your cook at the solid temperature so low slow cooks are great. We have the barbecue guru is the company. But we have a Digicue, we have a cyberque, we have a piggyque. They are great with pink little pigs on them. People just love them so barbecue is fun.

Matt Register: Of course and we’re big fans of barbeque. I mean, you can tell by looking at me. I enjoy my barbecue. So now that’s pretty awesome. So we’re going to have links to all of this stuff. I need a web site for all of those things we are going to have right there from the TexasBusinessRadio.com. But this is a family business at the core of it. Tell me a little bit about how that happened and how many family members are involved in your business because it’s most of them, right?

Lauren Berenato: Yes. So Fred Perkel founded the company ThermOmegaTech and unfortunately he was knew that he was sick with ALS and his illness was getting worse. And my uncle was the CPA for the company. And Fred asked my uncle how long would it take to give a $25 million donation to Sam Houston University. And he said that he did the math quickly and said well if our profits are the same way that are right now we can do it within seven years. And Fred said well I know that I’m not long for this world and I want you to take over this company and I want you to honor that pledge. So that was in August of 2012 and since then my cousin, my uncle’s name is Jim Logue. My cousin, Jim, is the foreman of barbecue. So he makes sure all the orders go out on time. Does a great job. His fiance Dana is our head of inside sales. She specializes in rail. And then I do outside sales so I have a background in engineering but I specialize in our commercial plumbing line.

George Walden: You also referenced your education. I understand you’re an attorney.

Lauren Berenato: Yes I am. I’m an attorney and I have my master’s in patent law from Notre Dame. Go Irish!

Matt Register: Which absolutely comes in handy when you slinging valves all over the country. That’s wonderful. This is Lauren Baronato, a sales engineer for ThermOmegaTech out of Pennsylvania. what’s the easiest way for somebody to get in touch with you?

Lauren Berenato: Sure, hop right onto our Web site. We have a whole contact us page. So whether you’re looking for a real barbecue commercial priming industrial setting with all the permissions right there. So my email is LaurenB@thermomegatech.com. I know that company name is a mouthful.

Matt Register: ThermOmegaTech. And guys if you’re driving or you don’t have time to take notes, don’t worry about it, we’re going to have it linked right there from TexasBusinessRadio.com. Lauren, thank you very much for joining us.

Lauren Berenato: Thank you so much for having me.

Matt Register: Unfortunately that’s all the time we have. Guys, we’re going have to go get smart on something else and bring you something next week. This has been a whole lot of fun here at the George R. Brown Convention Center at the ValveWorld Americas 2017. These guys have been great hosts. It’s been a whole lot of fun. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about valves. So we’re going to go get smart on something else. We’re going to be back next week. In the meantime, TexasBusinessRadio.com to see the entire thing and beautiful high definition video and go out and get your questions in. Three ways to do it. We monitor hash tag #TBR on Twitter, TBR, Texas Business Radio, on Twitter. Calls 844.814.8144 that’s a 24 hour call-in line so get your calls in this week and we will get somebody on here to answer them next week. Or go to the web site TexasBusinessRadio.com to get an e-mail in that way. Guys it’s been fun but we got to go. We’ll see you next week.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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