TDIndustries’ 75,000-square-foot prefabrication facility enables employees to manufacture and preassemble mechanical, piping, and plumbing system components. (Photos by Mark Trew.)
A refrigeration contractor can be a refrigeration contractor - and so much more. Consider TDIndustries of Dallas. Refrigeration is indeed a vital component to the company, and the suppliers on that side of the business include most of the major ice machine manufacturers, as well as the makers of freezers and refrigeration units ranging from walk-ins to reach-ins.

But when the company lists its services, refrigeration is listed among heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, life safety, plumbing, process and high purity piping, and building automation systems, as well as 24/7/365 emergency service.

The company sums up its objectives this way: "Our goal is to help customers make the most of their investment in a facility. TDIndustries lifecycle strategy provides construction, service, and operations for systems of new or existing commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings."

The company was founded in 1946 and now has 1,350 employees (called TDPartners) with offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Washington, as well as project offices in Atlanta and Denver. The employee-ownership aspect finds more than 900 of its employees and recent retirees owning 100 percent of the company, with no single individual controlling more than 3 percent of the total. In fact, the entire senior management team controls less than 25 percent of the company's stock.

Refrigeration And Beyond

Services in the refrigeration sector include technicians "dedicated to handling all types of refrigeration units." Applications range from the installation of ice machines to low-temperature warehouse applications, cascade systems, and industrial process cooling. One customer, a regional maintenance manager, said, "We can trust them to be there 24/7. That is the most important thing to us, and they take good care of us in that regard."

The company also has expertise in boilers, chillers, air-handling and pumping systems, control systems, and water treatment systems. It also offers what it calls "performance guarantees," regularly scheduled inspections, 24-hour emergency service, full service maintenance, and repairs to extend the life of building systems.

TDIndustries project managers strive to provide effective and economical mechanical and electrical system design and construction solutions for facilities such as corporate office campuses, data centers, educational institutions, and health care complexes.

Tools And Training

The company prides itself on using state-of-the-art tools like leak detectors for faster and less disruptive repairs, infrared imaging for identifying potentially dangerous situations in electrical circuitry, and vibration analysis to reduce downtime and to extend equipment life.

Technicians are trained to thoroughly investigate the root cause of a system's problems. The company uses factory training and cross training in a number of brands and systems and finds that 57 years in the business with work on hundreds of systems allows its technicians to find quick and accurate answers to most any situation. The company is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Light and Energy Star Building programs and has a staff of Certified Energy Managers.

A general contractor customer remarked, "They do what they say they are going to do. They meet deadlines, and they are very responsive. Other companies may promise something or a certain date and 9 times out of 10, they don't follow through with their promises. TD does."

The Service Factor

Two important concerns of TDIndustries are life cycle services and relationships. The company sums it up this way: "We've consciously shaped our services to reflect the life cycle of the building - system design, construction, operation, maintenance, and upgrade. We keep the big picture in mind, knowing that today's decisions will affect tomorrow's system performance."

Despite TD's size and complexity, customer relationships are stressed. "Just as we suggest infrastructure for the life of your building, we build long-term relationships with our customers. The better we know our customers and their business priorities, the better we can serve them. The better we know a facility, the more effective our solutions."

The more work TDIndustries employees can perform in the controlled environment of its manufacturing facility, the easier it is for the company to keep ahead of the construction schedule.

In The Community

Many TDIndustries employees serve in a wide range of volunteer activities in their local communities. One example is Board Chair Jack Lowe Jr.'s election to a three-year term as a trustee on the Dallas School Board. Part of the reason for that involvement came about because his father, Jack Lowe Sr., the founder of TDIndustries, had expressed a willingness to act as a mediator within the district during a difficult time in the 1970s.

Jack Lowe Sr. was asked to bring together all sides to come up with a desegregation plan. "It took so much out of him," his son said. "I'm positive it shortened his life. And I think he did it knowingly."

Jack Lowe, Jr. said that with negotiations nearly at an end in 1976, his dad collapsed under the stress. The negotiations began to unravel. "Two weeks later, he came back out of the hospital," said his son. "The doctors told him he had to take it easy, but he jumped right back into it. Two weeks later, a desegregation plan was submitted."

TDIndustries has consistently ranked in the top 10 of Fortune magazine's "100 best companies to work for" listing since the magazine began the list in 1997. Today, the company carries on under the leadership of Jack Lowe Jr. and 1,350 or so TDPartners, who share a commitment to both the industry and the community.

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Publication date: 12/01/2003