ATLANTA — It was a celebration for Yellow Jacket as the company kicked off its 70th anniversary. In a square booth with a large, lit banner, attendees were invited to explore what the company had produced from 1949 to 2019.
Yellow Jacket is a brand of Ritchie Engineering Co. Inc., and 70 years ago, Jack Ritchie set goals for his company not only to be in the market but also to set the standard for HVAC hoses. Over the years, the company has progressed beyond hoses to now include tools, refrigerant gauges, manifolds, HVAC vacuum pumps, and refrigerant recovery machines in its offerings as well.
Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, the manufacturer continues to build its product line in the HVACR market and is emphasizing its commitment to making products in the U.S.
Gary Lampasona, vice president of sales and marketing, Yellow Jacket, explained that testing its products across the industry allows Yellow Jacket to decide whether an enhancement on a successful tool is needed, or if a complete redesign is actually necessary to optimize performance and user satisfaction.
“We have the ability to enhance or redesign in-house and then make our manufacturing changes or whatever is necessary right away because of our domestically located factory,” he said. “We believe this gives us an advantage, and we will stick to this process and make as many products as possible in the U.S. for as long as we can.”
Besides its 70th anniversary, Yellow Jacket is looking ahead and focusing on two words this year: digital and hydrocarbons. At the booth, Lampasona held up his iPhone and said that contractors and technicians live here — in a digital world. This is one of the primary drivers as the company continues to add to its digital line and upgrade current products like the P51-860 Titan™ Digital Manifold.
The four-valve manifold provides fast and accurate measurements for refrigeration and a/c systems. Measurements are displayed on a monochrome backlit digital display and can be transmitted via Bluetooth to a Smartphone.
Local display of system pressures and temperatures, superheat, and subcool provide instant analysis. When connected to a smartphone, target superheat and subcool measurements are easily attained, along with all the other capabilities of the ManTooth™ app.
“Here, you have an entire digital touchscreen that interacts just like a phone,” said Lampasona. “We believe this is the benchmark digital manifold in the marketplace, and the early feedback from the not quite full first year of selling the product is showing us that the marketplace is accepting that thought process as well.”
The company is looking to expand on the platform in the future but doesn’t currently have anything in the works.
Hydrocarbons are a hot topic in the industry, and Yellow Jacket hasn’t missed that fact in its design of tools. Lampasona explained that hydrocarbons are becoming a refrigerant choice or, in some places, a necessity. The refrigerants are more prevalent in Europe, but the company is starting to see hydrocarbons become more popular in smaller appliances in the U.S. In response to that, there is a single manifold that measures R-290, R-600a, and R-1270.
“R-290 is propane; it’s what you use in a camp stove,” said Lampasona. “Contractors are eventually going to have to use these different refrigerants, and they have different parameters, characteristics, and properties.”
He also said that technicians will need to add another new Yellow Jacket tool to their trucks as HCs become more popular: a combustible gas leak detector.
“A regular refrigerant leak detector isn’t going to detect those hydrocarbons,” Lampasona said.
Publication date: 2/18/2019