HRS Celebrates 40th Birthday
The recent acquisition of HRS Heat Exchangers by Canada-based Exchanger Industries Limited (EIL) is just the latest development for a UK company with worldwide reach, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Back in the early 1980s the world was still feeling the aftershocks of the oil crises of the 1970s and energy efficiency was becoming a key concept across various industries. As part of this agenda, heat recovery technology was gaining in popularity, and Steven Pither, who until the acquisition was CEO of the HRS Group, recognised that these trends were only going to become more important.
“I was working for a company called Marine & Industrial Heat,” explains Steven. “This included selling heat exchangers produced by a Swedish company. I set up Heat Recovery Systems (HRS) and offered 15 per cent of the business to Marine & Industrial Heat. I started working from home and things progressed from there.”
Over time HRS took on more control over the selection and design of the heat exchangers it was selling, initially to allow quotes to be delivered in a timelier manner. The next step was to subcontract some of the manufacturing in the UK, including the production of skid-mounted heat exchanger packages.
After ten years HRS was so successful that Steven was able to purchase Marine & Industrial Heat, the company he had originally worked for. This provided HRS with its own manufacturing facility where it could also build heat exchanger frames. Shortly after this, the Swedish company was taken over by a competitor, so HRS and the company’s agents in Spain worked together to design and manufacture their own range of tubular heat exchangers.
HRS was the first company to launch corrugated tube heat exchangers in the UK, which are renowned for their superior thermal performance and resistance to fouling. Over the years it has developed its own designs for corrugated tube and scraped surface heat exchangers, a number of which have been patented.
The arrangement with Spain was subsequently converted into a formal joint venture, which provided not only market access to Europe, but also access to further production facilities. In 2009 HRS acquired the trademarks, designs, software and facilities, all of which became the basis for the current HRS business.
Steven explains. “As well as Spain, we also have a strong business in India. We originally licensed a company in India back in the 1990s to manufacture our corrugated tube range for us and formed a joint venture in 2001. Later on, that company decided to return to its roots building alcohol plants, so we bought out the department that was handling our heat exchangers and in 2006 set up our own Indian company – HRS Process Systems Ltd – which opened its own factory and offices in 2007. They have grown over the years and today they are completely self-sufficient in terms of design and manufacture.”
International growth has come organically to HRS, and the circumstances behind each international business vary with location and timing. In 2004 HRS Group established HRS Process Technology Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona to develop the US market for HRS products, and HRS Heat Exchangers SDN BHD was formed as a hub for Asian markets in Malaysia in 2011.
As well as its own overseas subsidiaries and offices, HRS has a joint venture with Hi-Prom Bureau to service the Russian market, and works with approved agents in other key countries, such as France and The Netherlands.
Increasing demand has seen significant expansion of the company’s manufacturing facilities in Spain and India over the last five years and HRS is now adapting to operating in a post-pandemic world with increasing use of digital technology and remote working.
The latest development for HRS Heat Exchangers is its acquisition by Exchanger Industries Limited, the globally recognised designer and manufacturer of heat transfer products for the energy, petrochemical, industrial and clean power generation sectors. There is a good fit between both companies and the synergy will open up new ways of working and new markets.