When James White decided to build an off-road buggy out of an old motorcycle he had sitting in his Ohio garage, he had no idea the project would lead to creating one of the most recognized and respected companies in the automotive aftermarket industry.
After 30 years, Thermo-Tec has grown from a small operation to an industry leader of heat insulation and sound deadening products.
But in 1987, White was simply looking for an answer to a problem.
“My two toddler daughters would always be stealing my tools while I was working in the garage. I could envision them walking up and grabbing the hot exhaust,” White said. “After an extensive amount of research into ways on how to insulate the exhaust system, I discovered a company that manufactured a specialty material that they had obtained a patent on. They then agreed to make some test samples to my specifications.”
After wrapping the exhaust with this new material, White was “totally amazed.”
“I could actually touch the exhaust while the engine was running,” he recalled. “I also understood the importance of exhaust flow as well as the technologies out there to try and retain the heat in the exhaust to maintain flow. All the expensive ceramic and high-tech coatings that had been on the market could not even come close to performing the way this new wrap that I had developed could.”
White recognized the innovative material had a wide range of applications, especially within his favorite hobby, building race cars. He and his wife, Donna, began Thermo-Tec in September of 1987, and never looked back.
Thermo-Tec now utilizes cutting-edge research, three decades of experience and a continued dedication to innovation to provide quality products from its headquarters in Greenwich, Ohio.
The company expanded to five locations before building a facility in 2001 with more than 3 acres of land for expansion in the future.
“I attribute the growth of our company to our involvement with race teams from all over the world,” White said. “I have always raced throughout my life, so testing products and developing solutions for our own race cars, has always been a passion for me.
“If you listen to the customer they will also be your guide to the development of bigger and better products for the future.” White added, “As a company, we have always been directly involved with a multitude of different types of racing, from NASCAR to Formula One, NHRA—you name it, we’ve done it.”
Just as White understands the needs of customers, he recognizes the changes in the automotive aftermarket industry, both good and challenging.
He cites the role the internet has played in the integrity of products and communication with customers.
“When we started, the internet was in its infancy. With the internet, sales, marketing strategies and even distribution have had to add this new tool to educate and communicate with the world,” White said. “But, at the same time, it has also created problems like counterfeiting, and the research and duplication of products. As manufacturers, we dedicate the resources to provide our customers with the best possible solutions by providing the highest quality, and in many cases, products that are overkill for their application.”
Through it all, White has built a business on happy customers.
“Now, many manufacturers find themselves being undermined by inferior quality and workmanship of imported counterfeit products. We are proud to be made in America.”
After 30 years, James and Donna White recently went looking for a new CEO. Fitting to the company’s beginnings, their daughter, Chrissy Gilmore, returned to Ohio as the new CEO of Thermo-Tec last year.
Thermo-Tec will launch a new website this fall, with online ordering, added product information and tech videos. The company is also developing a new heat insulating line to add to its extensive product roster.
Thermo-Tec will be at the 2017 SEMA Show in booth #23413, and at PRI in booth #1808.