25 Most Influential People in The North American Heat Treating Industry

With the help of our readers (just over 300 different suggestions in total) we have completed our 2019 list of the 25 Most Influential People in the North American Heat Treating Industry. The basic criteria we suggested to make the list is that the individuals named are in positions to change the course of the captive and heat treating markets in North America either in terms of presenting new technologies, influencing purchasing decisions, deciding what type of heat treating to do or effecting current heat treatment practices. Examples could include pioneers in new forms of heat treatment, the fellow at a major captive heat treater who decides which furnaces to buy, CEO’s of major furnace builders, large commercial heat treaters or consultants who advise on what equipment should be used. In addition, to make the list individuals must currently be active in the industry which means that those who are deceased will not be included (we are not being facetious, time marches on at least 3 individuals who made previous lists are no longer with us, Jeff Pritchard of Vac Aero, Mr. George Pfaffman of Ajax Tocco and Steve Graham of American Axle & Manufacturing).

We received some very interesting (although in some cases puzzling) suggestions. Some suggestions we received who did not make the list were Dan McCurdy of Bodycote (just retired), Mr. Bill Andreski, President – MetConsult LLC who received one very complimentary suggestion from a large captive heat treater (by the way we also have a high opinion of Bill) and Don Longenette formerly of Timken and Bodycote (who very recently changed career paths). It is interesting how much the list has changed since our last update-13 out of 25 names on this list did not appear all those years ago.

We do want to stress that all of these names were suggested to us by multiple people, but unfortunately we are sure that some who deserve to be named were not for one reason or another.

So we proceed to the fun partthe actual list. The #1 suggestion for the most influential individual in the North American heat treating industry is none other than Mr. Stephen Harris, CEO of Bodycote. We have listed his name first along with the reasons he was suggested. The other 24 names are in alphabetical order. We appreciate all the suggestions and look forward to another updated list in 2020.

Stephen Harris, Bodycote International. As CEO of the largest commercial heat treater in North America (although based in the UK) Stephen decisions have an enormous effect on the industry. In North American alone the company has 67 facilities between Mexico, Canada and the US and sale of over $400 million USD per year-the company’s footprint has doubled over the past 7 years. Other readers mention the fact that under his 11 years of leadership the share price has gone from 115 pence when he started to 760 pence today.

Pete Batche, Emerald Steel. So why Pete? Since 2005 the heat treating standard for automotive components has been CQI-9 which covers most aspects of the heat treating process. The standard was developed by a team from the automotive industry, one of which was an individual by the name of Pete Batche. While we recognize that Pete is just one part of the CQI-9 team his name keeps popping up and several people suggested him. Pete has been going strong for many years and is currently Quality Manager/Metallurgist at Emerald Steel in Michigan.

Bill Braddock, Braddock Metallurgical. Family owned Braddock Metallurgical based in the US Southeast is ranked as the 7th largest commercial heat treat in North America https://themonty.com/largest-commercial-heat-treats/ and this is largely due to the efforts of Bill and Steve Braddock (unfortunately Steve has passed away). Bill has been on our lists in the past and while he is not as involved in the day to day operations as he once was, several people suggested him. Bill’s title these days is executive Vice President.

Bill (B.J) Bernard, Surface Combustion. When introduced in the last century Surface Combustion’s, “Allcase” batch IQ furnaces completely changed the direction of heat treating. As owner and President of the company Bill Bernard (Senior) had a direct impact on the industry. In turn his son B.J. Bernard who is now President of the company has a very strong influence in the industry.
Bill Disler, AFC-Holcroft. Bill has spent virtually his entire working career in the heat treating industry and for the past 13 years has been President and CEO of AFC-Holcroft (part of the Aichelin Group located in Vienna Austria). As one of the largest furnace builders in North America his decisions about what new technologies should be pursued and what products to offer can and do affect the entire industry.
Mario Ciampini, Bodycote. Mario has not been on our list before, however with his history in the industry we agreed with each of the suggestions we received about including Mario. 18 years with Ipsen (1987-2005) of which 13 were in the capacity of President/CEO. Two major accomplishments: Acquisitions integration of Abar Ipsen and Ipsen Industries followed by the acquisition of Vacuum Furnace Systems. This was followed by joining the Bodycote Group in 2006 and establishing the Asia footprint in China, SE Asia, India and Japan for a period of 6 years, followed by operational responsibilities in North America, and M&A for past 3 years.
Fred Hamizadeh, AAM. A brand new entry on our list is Mr. Fred Hamizadeh of American Axle & Manufacturing who has the title of Director – Global Manufacturing Services – AAM Heat Treat & Facilities Process. Fred has over 30 years in the industry with companies such a Surface Combustion, Williams Industrial and AAM where he makes the heat treating decisions for one of the largest captive heat treaters in the world. Without a doubt Fred deserves to be on our list.
Mark Hemsath, SECO/WARWICK. Director of Nitriding & Special Vacuum Furnaces-Thermal GM, SECO/WARWICK. Like many of us in the industry Mark was born into it as his father was very prominent in heat treating. We had a total of 6 suggestions that Mark be included which is very impressive. Mark offers a lifetime of experience in heat treating and new technologies.
Jeff Hemmer, Bluewater Thermal. Jeff has been in the heat treat industry for almost 40 years and has worked with commercial heat treaters such as Industrial Heat treating and NDT services which was acquired by Lindberg which was then acquired by Bodycote. Since 2008 he has had a leadership role at Bluewater Thermal and is currently President and CEO. Overseeing over 550 people Jeff has a very decided influence on heat treating.
Bob Hill, Solar Atmospheres. Commercial heat treater Solar Atmospheres is one of the largest commercial vacuum heat treaters in North America and several people suggested Bob. We will leave it up to Bill Jones, CEO of the company to tell us why Bob should be in included on our list; “Bob is a degreed metallurgist with over 40 years’ experience in the heat treating industry. His career began in 1977, with Precision Heat Treating Co. of Southampton, PA. Within two years, Bob was promoted to Plant Manager. In 1995, Bob left Precision HT to join Solar Atmospheres of Souderton, PA as Plant Manager. In 2000, Bob established Solar Atmospheres of Western PA (Hermitage) from a greenfield site, with the first 24’ car bottom vacuum furnace for annealing large Ti rolls, some 50,000lb workloads, and, at the time, the largest car bottom vacuum furnace of its kind. Bob has since expanded the plant to 75,000sf of factory floor space, with an additional 18 vacuum furnaces, including a metallurgical lab and testing facility. Bob is well recognized as a heat treater for large aerospace components, medical, and other critical materials, including Ti, high temperature SS alloys, magnetic metals, and vacuum brazing large assemblies. Starting from nothing, the Solar Hermitage plant now generates over $20m in sales per year and is growing. Bob is a past President of the MTI (2014) and former ASM Board of Trustees member (2010). Respectfully submitted by William R. Jones, Owner of the Solar Family of Companies”
John Hubbard, Thermal Process Holdings. You could certainly make the argument that the most successful commercial heat treater in North America is John Hubbard. From humble beginnings he formed a small commercial heat treating group by the name of Hinderliter which became part of Bodycote which lead to him becoming CEO of the company. After retiring for a few years he re entered the industry and is now part of Thermal Process Holdings which has 5 locations around the US with more to come.
Bill Jones, CEO of Solar Atmospheres, Souderton, PA. (Commercial vacuum heat treating) and Solar Manufacturing (new vacuum furnaces). Bill is a true innovator whose research into vacuum heat treating furnaces has had a very definite impact on vacuum heat treating. My personal opinion is that there are very few in the vacuum industry that can rival Bill’s knowledge. In an uncertain world it is always nice that some things never change and one is Bill Jones of Solar.
Michel Korwin, President of Nitrex Metal Inc., Montreal, Quebec. Michel is probably more responsible than any other individual in North America for the growth of Gas Nitriding. In addition Michel created one of the largest furnace controls company’s in North America, United Process Controls. Michel was on our original list many years ago and while perhaps he has slowed down a bit we still see him at various trade shows and he continues to have an impact on the industry.
Scott MacKenzie, Houghton International. Scott is Technical Consultant of Houghton International, one of the largest manufacturers of quench products in the world. Scott is in turn one of their technical experts who is regularly invited to lecture. Scott is truly a staple of the heat treatment industry and can be found at various trade shows all over the world quite often as part of IFHTSE (International Federations of Heat Treating & Surface Engineering).
Bill Mayer, Industrial Heating. Bill was in the top five for the number of nominations we received. Bill is Managing Editor of Industrial Heating, the largest and oldest publication in the heat treatment industry in North America. He has had more than 9 years at IH and the general consensus was that his decisions on what to print have a day to day effect on heat treaters.
Pat McKenna, Ipsen. Pat is now President of Ipsen North America which is one of the largest furnace builders on the continent. He like many (most) on this list became involved in the heat treatment industry at quite a young age and has worked his way up through companies such as Nevada Heat Treating. We predict that his star is going to continue to rise in this business for quite a few years to come.
Jeff McLaughlin, McLaughlin Furnace GroupInteresting fellow Jeff. He started in the heat treating industry at a very young age and up until just a few years ago his name was not one commonly recognized. Over the past few years his company McLaughlin Furnace Group has grown by leaps and bounds and is now quite a recognized name all around North America both for atmosphere and vacuum furnaces.
Jim Oakes, SSi. We had several suggestions about Jim Oakes, Vice President of Business Development at controls company SSi. Interestingly enough the suggestions concentrated more on his involvement in organizations such MTI and Nadcap than his efforts at SSi. Jim is President Elect of Metal Treating Institute and will become the President this fall.
Rich Ott, Linamar. Global auto parts supplier Linamar is an amazing success story moving from a 1 man operation 50 years ago to a multi billion dollar per year, global supplier. Based in Canada Linamar offers captive heat treating on 3 continents and this includes vacuum carburizing, nitriding, nitro carburizing-you name it and Linamar probably does it. And the man in charge of their heat treating-Rich Ott with over 40 years experience.
Ben Rassieur, CEO Paulo Products. No way can we ignore the President of the largest privately owned heat treat group in North America. Paulo remains the largest privately owned heat treat group in North America and Ben remains CEO of the company. Paulo has seen tremendous growth over the past few years and continues to invest in new technologies.
Gary Sharp, Owner and President of Advanced Heat Treat Corp. in Waterloo, Iowa. Many years ago when Ion Nitriding was introduced to the North American heat treating market the technology got off to a very rocky start and languished for many years in the wilderness of heat treating. Gary saw an opportunity and has grown Advanced into the largest commercial Ion Nitrider in North America. Gary made our original lists but has not slowed down in the slightest and continues to grow the company which we consistently rate as one of the largest commercial heat treaters in North America.
Jeff Smith, SBS Corp. We have to confess that Jeff’s was not a name which occurred to us, however because of his efforts water cooling of quench oils is largely a thing of the past. We had several people suggest his name including Dean Russell who said this; I would like to nominate Jeff O. Smith the founder of SBS Corp. Jeff truly changed the Heat Treat Industry by solely focusing on one objective, To convert existing integral quench furnaces, and convince new customers that the only way to cool quench oil is with air coolers. No small task for a small start up company. But one by one, and year by year he stayed focused, and accomplished his objective. I played a part in the early years, and I can thank Jeff for introducing me to a fabulous 40 year career, in an industry I love. Sincerely, Dean L Russell. Industrial Thermal Systems”.
Geoffrey Somary, Ipsen Inc. My how Geoffrey’s star has risen over the years. From beginnings outside of the heat treating industry he has slowly but gradually moved up the ranks at Ipsen, very recently becoming CEO of Ipsen Group one of the largest furnace builders in the world. In this position Geoffrey has ultimate authority over product development, marketing and new technologies.
Pat Torok, United Process Controls. What an excellent suggestion this was by several readers and one which would not have occurred to us much to our embarrassment. Pat has always been involved in the controls side of the business and many of his ideas have been truly ground breaking such as “The Furnace Doctor” (a portable 3 gas analyzer) which he brought to market quite a few years ago. Since that time he has worked with one of the larger control companies in the industry, United Process Controls and continues to come up with innovative ideas.
Valery Rudnev, Inductoheat. Inductoheat is the largest induction supplier in the world and the good doctor is Director of Science & Technology at the company’s office in Michigan. His name regularly pops up in connection with Induction heat treating technology and in particular for various awards, all based upon a lifetime spent in the industry. Valery by the way is the only Induction “fellow” to make our list.