Bacharach(r) Inc. was always ahead of its time. Formed in 1909 by German immigrant Herman Bacharach, the company was founded in Pittsburgh to provide ventilation and measurement instruments for mining and industrial applications long before these harsh environments came under today’s strict government regulation. The original instrument was shaped like a glass dumbbell and contained a caustic fluid. Once gas was inverted and the device was flipped around, it revealed the amount of CO2.
The company’s original manufacturing facility was established in downtown Pittsburgh in 1915. Business grew as demand increased for instruments to measure toxic gases. “In those days these were mostly mechanical measuring instruments to quantify gases and measure their reaction with scales,” explains Tom Tonkins, vice president of sales and marketing. (The predominant toxic or explosive gases in mines are CO and methane).
Another milestone for the company came in 1920 when temperature measurement gauges and additional gas analysis instruments were invented. On the business side, Herman Bacharach retired in 1935. The first heating service instruments were developed in 1939. As an offshoot of Bacharach’s product range in the mid-1940s, the company started testing diesel engines, a capability that continues to support military contracts for refurbishing diesel test stands. In 1978, the company was acquired by United Technology; then in 1986 purchased by current owner Paul Zito, who had run the business unit for UT.
“Bacharach today is very much a technology-driven company,” Tonkins notes. “We provide a range of instruments, in some cases driven by legislation and regulation and sometimes to monitor the environment. We are looking to protect the environment by measuring gases escaping into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming and for safety purposes for workers in different industries where carbon monoxide is present. That could be from any type of combustion device like a burner, boiler, or heater.”
The company’s products have diversified to include an array of instruments that detect, measure, and record combustion and environmental gases, temperature, relative humidity, air velocity, and other air quality and safety parameters. A full line of refrigerant recovery equipment for residential, industrial, and automotive applications further extends Bacharach’s family of products.
Of course, electronic innovations have been added to mechanical devices so that today’s Bacharach combustion analyzers can print or transfer data to a PC and database. While most instruments now are electronic, the Fyrite is mechanical based to accommodate those customers who still prefer that technology.
About seven years ago, Bacharach(r) made a strategic move and sold its gas detection division, although the company continues to manufacture those instruments for other marketers including personal gas monitors. When the gas detection division was sold, the company went on the acquisition trail and added four companies in quick succession. These include Janos, an R&D group devoted to using infrared absorption as a measurement principle for gases. Another acquisition, Fluorotech Industries, makes refrigerant recovery units. A new environmental products operation manufactures fixed-position and portable refrigerant leak detectors.
Rounding out recent acquisitions, in 2001 the company added a European division, Geotechnical Instruments, now Bacharach(r) Europe, a civil engineering instrumentation company that diversified into manufacturing landfill gas monitoring equipment. The company developed an infrared measurement cell and a range of portable infrared analyzers for quantifying methane and carbon dioxide (CO2), the two main components of landfill gas.
“Bacharach(r) was and still is very well known as the leader in combustion analyzers in the Fyrite range,” Tonkins reports. “Those are all industry standard instruments and Bacharach(r), in terms of market position, is number one in combustion analysis in the U.S.” Bacharach(r) has the industry covered year round. In the heating season, to check the efficiency and safety of burners and boilers, inspectors use combustion analysis instruments; refrigerant recovery measurement tools are pressed into service to gauge air conditioning equipment during the hotter weather. “The strategy is to provide product solutions for all seasons,” Tonkins says. “We had the heating side of the business and added a range of cooling products to the portfolio.”
A short list of the company’s leading products includes the Fyrite(r) series – Fyrite(r) Tech and Fyrite(r) Pro residential combustion analyzers; the PCA(r), a high-end Portable Combustion Analyzer ideal for oil and gas burner set up and boiler maintenance, and the ECA 450 combustion, environmental and emissions analyzer, used by plant maintenance engineers and industrial boiler/furnace service technicians. The Stinger is a compressor recovery unit used to recover commonly used refrigerants from residential and light commercial systems. The H-10 series is a top-selling brand of refrigerant leak detectors.
The H25-IR, just introduced, puts state-of-the-art infrared technology to work in an industrial refrigerant leak detector used for low-level detection and leak rate quantification of CFCs, HFCs, HCFCs and halogen gas compounds that are used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, fire suppression systems, and other apparatus. Other products include fixed-position refrigerant monitors, instruments for automotive leak detection and recovery, safety monitors, indoor air quality measurements, and the diesel fuel injection stands used by the military.
Bacharach(r) instruments are found pretty much anywhere in which heating or cooling systems are either manufactured or installed. Imagine an automaker installing air-conditioning into a vehicle, then checking to ensure the system doesn’t leak. “Applications have shifted from mining to manufacturing plants,” Tonkins says. “Any air conditioning system that is built, whether for a home or office or vehicle, uses this type of device to check the integrity of the system.” On the heating side, industrial boilers in plants or commercial systems in institutions are inspected to prevent CO emission. “Boilers are found in hospitals, any large industrial plant, bakeries, prisons – anywhere that large boilers emit gases into the atmosphere.”
High-flow samplers are used on gas pipelines and gas transfer stations to check and quantify leaks, an effort that is good for the environment and good for business. “The gases that are being emitted not only contribute to global warming but measuring the rate at which the gas is escaping can allow us to equate the rate of loss to an actual dollar value,” Tonkins notes.
Other applications are quite technical and esoteric. Some unusual examples include measuring CO2 emissions from volcanoes to predict eruptions. The principle of infrared absorption can be applied to measure exotic gases such as Vikane(r), phosphine, and SF-6. Instruments are used by the U.S. Navy to measure CO2 and oxygen levels under hyperbaric conditions. And a range of handheld instruments measure anesthetic gases in hospitals. “We continue to be diverse but using the same measurement principle, infrared absorption, to measure those gases.”
The company’s Pittsburgh facility of about 60,000 square feet consists of manufacturing, service, R&D, sales and marketing, materials, purchasing, quality control, business support and all operations under one roof. Bacharach Europe has its own manufacturing facility. The facilities are ISO 9001:2000 accredited and meet UL, CSA and European standards. The company has about 170 U.S. employees and about 95 in Europe.
“We are a very diversified company in that we manufacture most of these products here in Pittsburgh, outsourcing very few,” Tonkins says. The company also has sales and service facilities in Mexico and Canada as well as a sales office in Brazil. Seven regional managers cover the U.S. and the many industries where the instruments are used. Most sales come through wholesale distribution chains or channels. “Many distributors have moved from behind the counter to storefront merchandising with a self-service approach,” observes Lisa Zettelmayer, marketing manager. “So to capitalize on that we have constructed attractive point-of-purchase displays and secured prime real estate at the forefront of many of our distributor locations.” The consumer-oriented approach has filtered into industrial marketing so that positioning efforts are like product placement in grocery stores. “If you can secure and maintain that position with quality packaging that effectively communicates what your equipment does and integrates your corporate identity, it increases your business substantially along with brand recognition,” she adds.
Bacharach(r) has three unique aspects to its business, the marketers stress: First, its academic training facility teaches technicians and engineers in the heating and cooling business about boiler efficiency, the dangers of CO, and the need to control refrigerant leaks. “Number two, we are a product solutions for all seasons company. That is unique to Bacharach(r). There is no other company that provides the range of equipment that we do for heating, cooling and refrigeration,” Tonkins says. “Third is our brand name. Because we have been around for such a long time and the emphasis is on quality and not price, Bacharach(r) has maintained its manufacturing facility here in the United States where every one of our competitors has gone off shore. The cost of manufacturing is higher. But our reputation for providing quality instruments is second to none. Those things – training, brand recognition and product offerings – separate us from the competition.”
Thousands of technicians and engineers go through the company’s academic training programs every year and they are an important audience for their marketing as well as technical prowess. “They are becoming more aware of what’s out there and are putting pressure on their bosses to switch from the mechanical instruments to the electronic analyzers,” Tonkins says.
The company’s continuing growth is directly related. It sold more electronic combustion analyzers in 2004 than in any prior year, attributable to the wholesale marketing efforts as well as industry awareness. “Bacharach’s name has been synonymous through the years with quality. Our philosophy is grow our position in the cooling side of the business and to continue to be the quality leader.”