Besides sharing an office and a founder, American Thermal Instruments and Microtek Labs both have always shared a common interest in temperature. I sat down with Randy Lane, ATI’s Chief Strategy Officer to get the details on how the two companies came about.
CS: I am aware that ATI was started in 1981 by Marvin Kidd, however, how did Microtek become part of the family soon after?
RL: In 1985, after ATI was successfully running, our founder Marvin Kidd along with his business partner, Pat Lafferty, started the company solely focused on microencapsulation. In partnership with two local chemists, Ron Hart and Dale work, Marvin funded the start-up and it became the road center for encapsulated products.
CS: Where did Marvin’s love for temperature monitoring and thermal management come from?
RL: It all began with his fascination for liquid crystal. He saw how interactive people were with it and how many different uses it had. His first venture was creating mood rings using the liquid crystal technology.
CS: What did the beginning of both companies look like?
RL: ATI started with the unique mood ring technology which led to the development of aquarium thermometers in 1981, then to drug testing in 1988 and high temperature ascending indicators in 1991. In 2008, electronics came into play before linking app and cloud technology in 2014. We are continuously advancing our product portfolio with new solutions and added technology every year.
Microtek started as a research and development facility for consumers who wanted encapsulated product. From there, we got into our first major product development: encapsulated persulfate. After that product launched, we started making phase change materials and encapsulating food flavorings and taste masking products.
In 2012 we narrowed our scope to just phase change materials to keep up with consumer demand. Now, in 2018 we have expanded into thermal management solutions – this includes various forms and industries in need of managing temperature.
CS: How much did companies grow physically in terms of manufacturing and warehouse space?
RL: For ATI, we started with a 6k square foot building which we expanded to almost 9k square feet in 1996. Then we added on an additional 3,500 square footage of office space in 2000.
For Microtek, we started really small, with only 3,000 square feet. Then in 1996 we doubled that to 7,500 square feet. Today, both companies reside in the same 78,000 sq. ft. facility!
CS: We’re at 90 employees now! How many did Marvin start with to launch the two companies?
RL: Marvin started with three total employees to launch American Thermal and four at Microtek. Both companies have expanded over the years and we’ve been fortunate to hire some amazing talent that fits both culturally and professionally.
CS: Marvin always mentions that he built this company so people can comfortably take care of their families. Describe his vision more.
RL: Marvin has always wanted to take care of the people he works with. Part of the reason he started his own company was so he could have a more direct impact on his employees and the community. Seeing layoffs at previous employers and having a bad experience with his first business made him see the world a bit differently.
CS: What does the future look like for ATI & Microtek?
RL: We are excited to expand our reach into different markets with a solution-based mentality. Our ideal focus is making people’s lives better both physically and in the performance/efficacy of the products they use.
Together, ATI and Microtek have a culture that has fostered various employee clubs within the organization to not only better our team but also the community around us. We look forward to nurturing our culture so our employees continue to love coming to work everyday.To read more about ATI and Microtek’s company culture, click here.