FREDERICTON – How does a New Brunswick company get its products in an NFL stadium, an Abu Dhabi hospital and a New York City condominium project?
In Therma-Ray’s case, it’s variety.
For over 30 years, Fredericton-based Therma-Ray has been one of the few companies in North America to provide radiant heating solutions for commercial and residential customers. Whether it’s heated floors, ceilings or everything in between, they’ve got it.
“We are the only company that has all of these product lines under one house and we actually make [the products] here. We have competitors in various methodologies, some a direct competitor, like for floor heat for example, but nobody has all the product lines under one house,” says Therma-Ray president Kevin Kilbride.
“So we’re kind of a one stop shop. If somebody is looking for options, we can provide them. Other companies can’t, they would have to go to another supplier.”
Kilbride says Therma-Ray became a “one-stop shop” by keeping pace and offering the latest heating solutions as they came along. This comes in handy when a good chunk of their business is exported. The United States is their biggest market, but they have also done business in Japan, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates.
“Sometimes they’re coming to us looking for solutions and sometimes we’re a little bit more active in various markets, so we kind of spread business around along those lines,” says Kilbride.
But, how does someone in Abu Dhabi find Therma-Ray?
It’s simple. The Internet.
“When people are looking for a particular solution and they start looking for a way to use it…we appear on the searches fairly early on and we have a good story to tell,” Kilbride says. “They will reach out to us and once we have a chance to chat with them a bit, they tend to stick with us.”
Therma-Ray also has dealers and distributors throughout North America who are working on projects on an ongoing basis.
“Sometimes they’re small orders, sometimes they’re bigger orders. It all depends on the project they’re working on,” Kilbride says.
“They’ll be active in their particular territory and we like that, because they can answer the local questions, address and concerns they might have. People like to deal with someone local. But finding good ones can be very tricky these days.”
Another challenge the company faces is explaining to people what radiant heat even is.
“Most people don’t understand how radiant heat works. They’ve heard of it. They heard it’s nice, but how do they use it in their application or project? So sometimes reaching out to them takes a bit of time and effort, but it’s something we have to continue doing.”
Building strong relationships with architects and engineers is another crucial part of Therma-Ray’s business.
“Once we start working with those firms, hopefully we will build a good relationship, which is key,” Kilbride says. “They will continue to use out product on an ongoing basis, because they are doing projects all the time.”
One of their latest projects is a condo project on 45 East 22nd Street in New York City where they will be providing heating ceilings, working with all the key players to make sure it’s executed properly.
Kilbride says working on such projects shows that a New Brunswick company can play in the big leagues. It gives Therma-Ray credibility.
“New York City is its own league all by itself. We’ve done projects in Vancouver, Japan and Washington. But when you go to New York City, because of the power structures, the way they work and they are very risk adverse and avant garde,” Kilbride says.
“When I start showing those projects, I don’t have to say anything else. If they’re using it, it has to be something valid. It speaks for itself.”
Though it looks like they’ve “made it,” Kilbride says they’re only starting. He says in the coming years, Therma-Ray will be working to expand its sales, distribution and rebranding work. They will also be reaching out to architects and engineers on a much bigger scale.
“Our plan is to grow quite a bit in the next few years,” he says.