A Focus on Service in a Niche Industry
Intech Equipment & Supply
The American success story of Intech Equipment & Supply begins with a credit card and a dream. The founders being laid off from a previous company would become the catalyst for Intech, as owner Bob Jutras explains. It has its head office in Phoenix, Arizona, with satellite sites in Arkansas, California and Texas from which it provides spray foam equipment, parts and roofing supplies.
Before foam equipment and related parts supplier Intech Equipment & Supply began, two of its owners, Bob Jutras and John Toolis, worked for a company called Bryant Universal Roofing. At the time, this was probably the largest roofing contractor in the country.
“By 1994, we could see the writing on the wall. The company was struggling somewhat, and that is when John and I started to discuss our options going forward if this whole thing fell apart,” says Bob.
Sure enough, one year later the company went bankrupt, and the doors were closed. One day everyone came to work, and the gates were locked. The plan to start a new venture was now a forced reality.
“We got a lot more serious about actually starting up a business. In turn, there were probably around 1,500 people working for the company, so it opened up a lot of doors for the employees and managers of the business that ended up either working out deals with the bank, with Bryant Universal or started their own businesses,” says Bob.
John had started working for Bryant before he completed high school, so by the time its doors were closed, he had over twenty years of experience. He had worked his way up from mechanic to its director of asset management and had an excellent rapport with people throughout the different branches of Bryant. This became an incredible opportunity for John, Bob and many other former Bryant employees who came to join Intech.
Bob’s expertise is in working with the equipment used to apply polyurethane foam and plural component coatings. “I actually started doing that in 1974, and that is also what I did for Bryant Universal Roofing. That’s what I brought to the business, was an expertise in plural component equipment. John brought with him the operations and business management skills to get the company to where it is today,” says Bob.
Joe Pradetto is the third partner and a lifelong friend of John’s. He used to run and manage a machine shop in Southern California, but the work was no longer challenging him and a change of pace was warranted. He decided to change occupations and join Intech.
Intech Equipment & Supply’s incredible story then began with a $5,000 credit line. It initiated its foray into the business world by concentrating solely on working with roofing contractors. In its first year of existence, the company turned that modest amount into over $1 million in sales.
Presently, the focus for Intech is to provide equipment and supplies to roofing and insulating contractors. A significant part of that is the equipment used to spray polyurethane foam for the roofing and wall foam contractors. The growth of the company has been accomplished mainly due to the use of spray foam for insulating buildings and new homes.
“When we first started, work centered in the southwest part of the U.S.: California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. The majority of our growth has been through word of mouth, because we work really hard for our customers,” says Bob. Intech prides itself on being very detail-oriented and endeavors to create a smooth customer experience.
At the company’s start, “most of the spray foam rigs we were building were going to roofing contractors. The equipment used to spray roofing foam is very similar to that being used by wall foam contractors, so as the wall foam business grew, it was a natural fit for us and helped to diversify the company.”
Intech fits out contractors’ equipment in either the back of a box truck or tow behind and gooseneck trailers. It has been quite a challenge in putting together a design that works well and is as functional as possible. Its purpose is to give that contractor everything needed inside the rig, so they can go out to a job site, complete the work, pack up and go home.
Since this is a specialized industry, training is needed for new employees. The American Chemistry Council is where training begins. When combined with a safety course, this gets the new employee informed about polyurethane foam and the chemicals used to make it. The next step is to go over the different types of equipment used.
“Our main focus is that the contractors understand the proper operations, start-up, shut-down procedures and maintenance for the equipment. In turn, what we will do is work with different material manufacturers. A lot of the times, they will be joint customers of ours and the material manufacturers. They will in turn work with them as far as the application process in installing the spray foam,” says Bob.
This type of work demands specialized chemical resistant protective clothing. The most important aspect is respiratory protection in the form of either supplied air respirators or cartridge respirators. Both the applicator and the assistants working inside the building must wear protective gear.
“We have seen more involvement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They oversee the guys in the field applying this inside buildings and ensure that they are wearing the proper protective equipment. It ensures that they are able to do the job efficiently, effectively and safely,” says Bob.
Providing a national service creates some logistical obstacles which Intech has overcome by having technicians at strategic locations in Georgia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Texas, Washington State and Colorado. This makes certain that any customers having difficulties can be seen to quickly.
“We want to assure our customers that if there are any problems with the equipment, we will have someone relatively close that will come out to help,” says Bob.
Intech has striven to become a one-stop-shop for its customers and have any items that are needed to complete roofing or insulating jobs. Everything is ready for both walk-in customers and those who rely on the shipments that are sent out daily.
Growth in the company has been consistent. “Today we are probably insulating five to ten times more houses with polyurethane foam than what was being done at the turn of the century. The recession hit and things did slow down, but there were still a lot of houses being built across the country. Polyurethane foam was grabbing a bigger percentage of the market as every year passed,” says Bob.
“We know a big portion of its growth over the years is because of the incredibly talented people that have joined our team. It is our combined experience and customer centric attitude that makes Intech what it is today,” says Bob.
Even during an economic downturn, approximately one million houses are being built every year in the U.S. One rig can work on 150 to 200 houses per year, and that produces much work for foam rigs.
When buying a new home, more and more people want to invest in a home that is as energy efficient as possible. Choosing spray foam is one of the best ways to achieve this. The small amount that this upgrade adds to the mortgage payment is easily offset by the savings they will see month after month in energy savings. “That people are looking for these more energy efficient homes is a big part of what has helped to keep us recession proof,” says Bob.