In the middle of winter, a truck washing facility in Illinois was forced to halt its services. One of its high-pressure vessels had quit and was beyond repair. A full installation would take at least a week. Panicked staff members were on the phone with an installation company they had worked with in the past, desperate to get things working again.
This was not just an inconvenience for the truck-washing facility. It meant a lack of service for the truck drivers who rely on this washing before heading back to the terminal or onto the road. A gap in service delivery is the Achilles’ heel of all large-scale businesses, and finding fast, reliable solutions is the only way to survive in a competitive economy.
“They were dead in the water in the dead of winter last year,” explains Brian Summers, Sales Manager at Boiler Equipment Company (BEC), “and had no way of running their business at all.” Brian has been in the business for over fifty years. He started there ten years ago, and his son Kevin Summers has since come on board as a mechanical engineer.
“We had a relationship with the inside installer,” recounts Kevin. “They gave us a call, and we were able to get the 150-horsepower, high-pressure vessel installed. Our service guys got it up and running within forty-eight hours. It’s a situation where you don’t get that sale if you don’t have the equipment.”
With a large warehouse and big enough trucks to easily stock extra parts, BEC has been saving the day all across the Chicagoland area.
“Our people worked around the clock to help them get going,” says Brian. “The company really appreciated it, and we recently got another large order from them.”
“That’s how we’ve grown our business,” adds Kevin, “through building these relationships.”
Boiler Equipment Company (BEC) is headquartered in Lombard, Illinois with satellite offices in California and Georgia. It rents and sells equipment and designs or upgrades full boiler and steam-related systems with new or used equipment.
“We’re in the business of selling and servicing steam-related equipment,” says Brian. “We are heavily involved in food processing, hospitals, and large industrial applications.”
The company creates engineered design solutions from the ground up. This includes upgrades, conversions, repairs, and replacements. Its technicians are some of the best-trained and experienced people in the business and are able to handle nearly any problem or unexpected discovery on site.
“Having a service department that can do our startups and making sure these projects are done properly by trained service technicians is fundamental,” explains Kevin. “Our technicians can put to bed any issues that might have eluded the preplanning process. Having that team of service guys that can fix any issues at the outset is something our clients also appreciate.”
Its factory-authorized-and-trained boiler burner technicians install many leading brands and overhaul a variety of systems. They perform services ranging from annual maintenance to upgrades, repair, and analysis of combustion efficiency. Boiler Equipment Company can also deliver onsite job training for companies learning to do their own maintenance.
BEC has seen rapid growth over the last five years, largely due to a focus on full systems design. Kevin earned a degree in mechanical engineering and has used those tools to implement the company’s design process. “I came on to develop full system design in 3D AutoCAD.” With his skills in design and engineering, Kevin is able to show clients a three-dimensional model using the exact specifications of their space. The designs that result are efficient and accessible, making them easy to maintain or repair.
Kevin’s systems’ thinking and Brian’s long-time experience make them the ultimate team when it comes to facing challenging situations. In one such scenario, the company was working with a client that was installing a boiler room half the size of what would normally be used in its industry.
“It was a bit of shoebox to fit all the equipment in,” explains Kevin. “We laid everything out beforehand on the computer to see where the piping and stack layout would make the most sense.” The boilers had to be put in face-to-face and needed to fit into the room.
To an outside observer, this may seem like a relatively simple problem. But anyone in the industry knows equipment must be safely and smartly placed to maintain a perfect harmony between water temperature and pressure. The equipment choice and space itself have a dramatic impact on long-term outcomes. Additionally, the setup must be easy to maintain and service so companies can reduce maintenance needs and keep down costs.
“It was a very coordinated effort to not only get the equipment in, but to bring it into the room in the proper order.” Three large pieces of equipment were brought in. While BEC is not in charge of the installation, Kevin was on site making sure things were synchronized properly.
And he arrived just in time. “The installing contractor was about to send the equipment in, but they had it in the wrong order.” Kevin was able to quickly correct this. “They would have had to pull all the equipment out of the room and put it back in the right order, and it would have doubled the cost of the installation.”
Most companies do not go that extra step and instead send the designs to the installer. “We want to make sure what we’re selling is installed properly. It’s our reputation if it’s not working as originally planned,” Kevin explains.
The mindset used in setting up a project is extended to all aspects of the company. “We’re there for the long haul,” Kevin continues. “We’re not going to sell you a piece of equipment and just walk away. We’re there to ensure that you’re happy with what you’re buying. People are putting large financial investments into what we’re selling, and we want them to be happy with what we’re selling them. Ultimately, it’s our reputation. The majority of our business is through word-of-mouth.”
Brian believes tasks like this were not possible without Kevin’s education and technological capabilities. “Kevin’s arrival and his skills have paid dividends for BEC. We all knew this technology was out there. It was just a matter of making it happen.”
Kevin’s passion for technology, problem-solving, and teamwork has led to the company helping to grow the next generation of thinkers and problem solvers. BEC hosted STEM Scouts, an organization promoting science, technology, engineering, and math subjects (STEM) to children in grades one through five.
Kevin was excited to work with the kids and to promote the fun of STEM. “When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have some great teachers, and that’s what makes all the difference.”
“My biggest thing is getting kids excited about math, science, and problem solving. The earlier you can get kids hooked on that and on science, the more likely they’re going to do that in the future.” Getting children enthusiastic about the program has included working with them to program robots, perform chemistry experiments, and build remote-controlled cars that can go through obstacle courses.
“We figure out a way to make it fun for kids, whether it’s a controlled explosion here or there or making some sort of fun game out of robots or things like that,” Kevin explains.
BEC is not only growing the next generation of scientists; it is rapidly expanding across the country, particularly over the past five years. “When I jumped on five years ago, there were four people in the office and three service guys,” Kevin says. “We’ve pretty much tripled in growth since then. Selling a lot more equipment, selling a lot more service packages.” The expansion has also included new offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Irvine, California.
“I foresee us continuing to grow. Being a nationwide company, I see us developing a lot more controlled platforms for boilers and systems applications,” says Kevin. “We have grown into a full-service company, able to deliver design and turnkey applications to help our clients.”