25 Most Influential People In The North American Heat Treating Industry – Looking Back

Between the years 1999 and 2011 “The Monty” several times put together a list of the 25 most influential people in the North American Heat Treating Industry-both captive and commercial heat treatment we will add. Somehow or other we got out of the habit and had forgotten about this until the other day when a reader suggested we re-visit this topic. This particular list was published in 2009 and out of idle curiosity we had a look to see how it had changed. While some individuals we have lost touch with, for the majority we are pleased to see they are still going strong (current status is in red).

Pete Batche, Bosch LLC. 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 (Pete is the Senior Quality Engineer at the Robert Bosch Company in Michigan, USA). While we recognize that Pete is just one part of the CQI-9 team his name kept popping up. Pete is still going strong and is currently Quality Manager / Metallurgist at Emerald Steel in Michigan and still heavily involved with CQI-9.

Bill Bernard, Surface Combustion, (new Furnaces). 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 has had a direct impact on the industry. While we have not heard from Bill for some time we can say that his son Bill (B.J.) Bernard is now President and CEO of the company and doing a very good job from everything we have heard.

Mr. Howard Boyer, Editor of the ASM Metals Handbooks and the Heat Treaters Guide, the bible of the heat treating industry around the world. Now Howard we have completely lost touch with.

Ingo Cremer, Cremer Furnace Company. This name is not one that many heat treaters might recognize unless you are in the powdered metal business. Ingo is founder of Cremer Furnace Company which makes new sintering furnaces which many in the industry regard as extremely innovative. In addition he is President of EPMA and has made substantial contributions to Powdered Metal heat treating development. Ingo is another individual who we have not heard from in years.

Roger Fabian, Bodycote International. Roger received more votes than anybody else on our list. A quick background says he has been in the heat treating industry since 1962 been president of MTI, now past President of ASM and was instrumental in the development of CHTE (Center for Heat Treating Excellence). His list of heat treating credentials is truly impressive. Roger retired from the industry a number of years ago although perhaps we should say partly retired as he is an Independent Management Consulting Professional.

Jeff Gwinnell, Bluewater Thermal. Jeff is CEO of commercial heat treater Bluewater Thermal the largest US based commercial heat treater. Since his arrival at Bluewater he has made substantial changes to the company mainly in the form of management. Look for further changes at Bluewater under the direction of Jeff. Jeff’s stay in the industry was relatively short and after a brief stint as CEO of Bluewater he completely left heat treating.

Stephen Harris, Bodycote International. As CEO of the largest commercial heat treater in North America (although based in the UK) Stephen decisions can have an enormous effect on the industry. Whether it is adding plants, closing plants, deciding on the direction of new equipment purchases or taking over captive heat treating operations all will affect the shape of heat treating in North America. Stephen Harris is still going strong and doing an outstanding job running the largest commercial heat treat company in the world.

Mr. Daniel Herring, (The Heat Treat Doctor) Herring Group. The only consultant in our group, Dan’s opinions have helped shape the course of heat treating for a number of companies. Dan was planning on partly retiring and going back to school some 2 or 3 years ago but we have seen no sign of him slowing down at all.

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 Bills knowledge. In an uncertain world it is always nice that some things never change and one is Bill Jones of Solar. He continues to be innovation and push the envelope when it comes to vacuum heat treating.

Zia Karim has from an aerospace heat treating perspective played a major role in the development and institutions of Nadcap. At Nadcap he has held the longest position as staff engineer (not to mention at one time he was the only one global wise) forging alliances with Boeing and Aerospace primes to bring them on board. As NADCAP has had such an impact on the industry it is only fitting that Zia is mentioned. Zia Karim for some time appeared to be a rising star in the heat treating industry but at some point the star crashed and burned. We have not run across him for many years now.

The Keough Family. Bill and Chip. Very unfortunately Bob Keough the founder of AFC-Holcroft passed away this past year however the legacy he leaves lives in his two sons Chip as President of Applied Process (commercial salt heat treating) and Bill as President of AFC-Holcroft (new furnaces). Applied Process is the largest commercial salt heat treater in North America, AFC-Holcroft one of the largest builders of new furnaces. It is rather a shame but both Bill and Chip have left the industry after selling their companies. We miss working with them.

Mr. 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 his successful efforts to form a controls group, UPC will have a definite impact on the industry. Perhaps Michel has slowed down a bit but we still see him at various trade shows and he continues to have an impact on the industry.

Janusz Kowalewski, Seco Warwick, Meadville, PA. Janusz has proven to be an innovator who has taken Seco Warwick (new furnaces) into new directions. Janusz parted ways with Seco a number of years back but remains busy and active in the industry as part of Ipsen.

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. While Scotts name would not have jumped into my mind immediately several people suggested his name. Scott is truly a staple of the heat treatment industry and can be found at various trade shows all over the world.

Doug Matson, Nadcap Heat Treat Task Group Chair. This is not an individual we are familiar with however as part of the Nadcap group Doug would have enormous influence when it comes to aerospace heat treating. As one individual said “The buck basically stops with him when it comes to heat treating and Boeing”. Doug now has over 40 years in the industry and is currently Quality & Special Processing Specialist at Boeing.

Mr. George Pfaffmann- Ajax Tocco- Induction Heat Treating. It surprised us the number of Induction “guys” that were suggested for our list. George’s name came up on such a regular basis that his inclusion was a very easy decision. George Pfaffmann soldiers on as V.P. Technology at AjaxTOCCO. 

Murli Prasad, General Motors. While virtually all the names on this list are familiar to us I have to confess the name Murli Prasad is not familiar to me. Be that as it may several individuals suggested him as being part of the GM auditing team for heat treating. Murli parted ways with General Motors a number of years back and is now President/Consultant, Global Materials & Finishing Solutions.

Jeff Pritchard, Vac Aero. Jeff Pritchard is CEO of Vac Aero, builder of new vacuum furnaces and one of the largest commercial heat treaters in North America when it comes to aerospace heat treating. Founded by Ross Pritchard (who is now retired) Jeff has taken over the company and grown it into new areas such as operations in Poland and India. Unfortunately Jeff passed away at the relatively young age of 53 from cancer. He left behind a healthy growing company.

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.

Dr. Valery Rudnev, Inductoheat, Madison Heights, Michigan. A name we are very familiar with and which a number of people mentioned as a real innovator in the Induction heating industry. The good Doctor is Director of Science & Technology of Inductoheat in Michigan and he is extremely active in the Induction heating industry all around the world.

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 with the effect that it is now after many years seen as an excellent technology in certain applications. Gary 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.

Geoffrey Somary, Ipsen Inc. While Geoffrey quite recently stepped into the shoes of CEO of Ipsen Inc. in North America he has been with the company for some time (albeit part of the time at VFS which is now part of Ipsen). A number of readers suggested Geoffreys name for the list of the basis that he is making changes at the company and that it is one of the largest new furnace builders in North America. Geoffrey’s star continues to shine and he is now at the pinnacle of Ipsen worldwide.

Steve Stormzand (Bosch/DTC). A pioneer in plasma nitriding and HPGQ. A name we are not familiar with but several individuals suggested Steve as having brought about changes in the industry because of his interest in Plasma (Ion) Nitriding and High Pressure gas quenching. Steve Stormzand continues in the industry and is now Director Facilities Management at Robert Bosch Tool Corporation in Charleston, SC.

Bill Thompson, Super Systems. While Bill did not invent the oxygen probe his effectiveness in bringing it to market with Marathon Monitors and Super Systems has meant it is very unusual to see a furnace without an oxygen probe and changed how all consequently changed how heat treaters in North America control their furnaces. While Bill is not active on a day to day basis at Super Systems, his son Steve has stepped into his shoes. Bill has now completely retired from the industry and is enjoying retirement. His son Steve has done a tremendous job of growing Super Systems.

Dr. George Totten, G.E. Totten & Associates, LLC. Dr. Totten was on our list in 2007 and remains on our list in 2009. Over the years he has provided very extensive knowledge about quenching, both from his background with Union Carbide Corporation and now as an independent consultant in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Totten remains very active in the industry and has now been with G.E. Totten & Associates, LLC for almost 18 years.