In just a year of full production, Modular Radiant Technologies has made a profit. The radiant floor heat manufacturer has also expanded its customer base to include local landmarks, notable local residences, and national clients.
To meet demand, it bought an abandoned factory on Buffalo’s East Side in March and hired people to produce the floor panels designed to cut heating costs.
And the upstart company now has satellite operations in Washington state and Chicago.
Radiant heat systems work by running warm water through tubes beneath the floor. Company CEO Gary Hydock invented modular panels that consist of a top layer of concrete with a plastic underside with grooves for the heating tubes. The panels can be installed over almost any type of floor.
But Modular Radiant Technologies is no overnight success. Hydock first started GCS Radiant 11 years ago to make and sell the panels, but it dissolved in 2008 when the economy slowed. In 2010, he revived the company under a new name with help from the Buffalo State Small Business Development Center and lead investor Kevin Neumaier, president and CEO of Environment and Ecology.
Now Hydock is taking a civic, inclusive approach to business. He has focused on spreading the success of his company to other industries and providing employment.
Q: What has been the driving force behind your business’ rapid growth?
A: I’m surrounded by people who just get it – business-wise, marketing-wise, engineering-wise, sales-wise. I’m very pleased about what we are doing. If we were a football team, we’d already be booking the Super Bowl. They are very good, each one in their own discipline.
Q: With the company’s surging success, what’s on the horizon?
A: We have people coming in from all over North America looking to get a piece of this. We have people looking for exclusivity in regions, and they are some pretty well to-do people. They want to invest economically and strategically because they see opportunities that are very clear to them.
Q: What are some of the benefits of radiant heating?
A: The most consumptive thing in a building, factory or residence is heating and cooling; it just eats you alive. With radiant heat, you get better air quality. There’s no noise, there’s no dust. It’s two-thirds more efficient than forced air. What you save over the lifetime of a house will buy you three brand new cars in the cost of saved utilities. There is a 7-year payback on it. If you have radiant heat in your house, your house is automatically worth 10 percent more, so that’s even money from the get go.
Q: How do your heating panels differ from others on the market?
A: This product is green – LEED certified. It’s made out of mostly recycled content, raw materials are outsourced close so you save on diesel fuel, and it’s manufactured here. Radiant heating equipment and engineers can be expensive and unpredictable with unreliable materials. I thought there had to be a better way. If we can put a man on the moon, there has to be a way to improve this. Our product is serviceable and it’s two-thirds lighter. It has very high BTU output, it has structural strength and can be installed by any HVAC-trained technician.
Q: How have you been able to spread the wealth to the local industries?
A: There are nine local companies that provide us with goods or services, and we provide them with gainful employment by their production of our raw materials. We currently employ eight in the plant and that number will increase. Every time we think we have enough production to keep up with demand, we are just mistaken. With the nine companies we support, we can easily put 130 people in here because we’re going to make four other products. This is just one of our many products to come.
Q: How do you see your business benefiting Buffalo in the long run?
A: We are providing a product that’s made of recycled content, that’s made here, that’s green, that’s energy efficient and helps the carbon footprint. And it creates jobs here in the plant and with the nine companies and installers.
Q: What’s your vision for the company?
A: I want it to be that good story that created employment. It’s more important to me than money. If you can have a bunch of people working who collect paychecks on Thursday and they can afford a home, support a family, have a decent car and look forward to coming to work on Monday. That would be pretty neat.