HOLLAND, Mich. ─ Thermotron Industries celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 1, 2012. Thermotron is a top supplier and manufacturer of environmental test chambers and solutions worldwide.
Thermotron is to test chambers what Kleenex is to facial tissues and Xerox is to copy machines. With a solid lead in the market and employing the best people, Thermotron is able to provide customers with high-quality, customizable test equipment and solutions backed with unbeatable service and support.
It all began in 1951 when Charles Conrad, a Ludington, Mich. native, founded Conrad, Inc. Eight years later, in 1959, a fire swept through the facility destroying the building, test equipment, and engineering records. The office files, however, were saved.
A few years later on April 1, 1962, Charles Conrad opened Thermotron in Holland, Mich. A few months later he sold the first AGREE chamber to Republic Aviation.
The 1970s was a big decade for Thermotron. The Kollen Park Facility was purchased in 1973. In 1976 the S-series environmental test chamber product line was introduced to the market. The S-Series is able to simulate hot and cold environments with humidity. The first electrodynamic shaker was sold in 1977. This product was innovative because it included dynamic factors such as displacement, velocity, acceleration and force in order to accurately simulate a wide range of conditions that can work to improve quality and reliability of many types of products.
Innovation continued in 1979 when the first 3030 electronic programmer controller was manufactured. This programmer controller was the first of its kind with a microprocessor base with up to three control channels.
In 1979, Thermotron formed a European subsidiary in the United Kingdom, about 50 miles southeast of London. One year later, Thermotron began promoting its products in China.
Thermotron purchased the Brooks Facility in 1980, the same year that Charles Conrad sold the company to Brian Nahey. Conrad wanted a buyer that was young enough so the buyer’s career would hinge on how he ran the company. Nahey was 38 years old and president of Wehr Corporation, a company with 100 years of continuous operation.
A condition of the sale was that Thermotron had to stay in Holland because Conrad believed it was a good community with good people. Nahey then purchased the Wehr Corporation and changed the name to Venturedyne. Thermotron is still privately held by Venturedyne, a Wisconsin-based company.
Dan O’Keefe was appointed as Thermotron’s new President in 1981. He would hold this position for nearly 30 years. O’Keefe retired in 2010, at which point Ron Lampen, a 35 year veteran of Thermotron, was appointed President of the company.
The mid-to-late 1990s brought great product growth to Thermotron by introducing the SE product line to the market and selling its first Accelerated Stress Test (AST) chamber. An AST chamber accelerates product failures and fatigue by applying high levels of stress to the product, from rapid and extreme temperature changes to repetitive shock multi-axis vibration. These tests are done to reveal design defects in hours rather than days, weeks, or years.
Thermotron engineers are constantly and continually improving the equipment’s controls and software capabilities. The controls and software packages are designed to increase the productivity and performance of testing equipment. The 8800 programmer controller came to the market in 2004. It is a custom report generator that provides accurate results. It has a 12.1-inch color touch-screen, data logging, up to four control channels, a USB port, and an Ethernet connection.
Thermotron serves more than 30 industries, including aerospace, electronics, defense, telecommunications, and automotive. Their products can be found in more than 36 countries around the world.
Thermotron’s mission is to grow and improve as individuals and as a company. Thermotron uses the precepts of quality to grow and continuously improve the company and employees to meet or exceed the expectations of our customers. Quality, safety, efficiency, the spirit of cooperation, customer focus, and continuous improvement are values that Thermotron and its employees possess.
Read a story on our 50th anniversary in the Holland Sentinel.