Based in Norfolk, Va., home of the world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, Thermcor Inc. has been proudly serving the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Military Sealift Fleet Support Command and numerous major marine, industrial and commercial players for nearly 15 years. And it all started out of Walter L. Dixon’s garage.
Thermcor was founded in 2003 by Walter, now president and CEO, as well as Ronald Dixon, vice president and COO, and William Bolean, vice president and CFO. Since inception, Thermcor’s goal has been to provide quality insulation service, on time and at affordable prices to the maritime industry. “In 2000, I started Thermcor out of my garage,” recounts Walter.
After enlisting in the Navy and serving for six years as a naval engineer, Walter finished his duties; he then worked in shipyards for over 20 years. “I was a single father and I thought, ‘I need to do something to support my kids better,'” he recalls. The answer was Thermcor.
Making waves in marine insulation and more
Nearly 14 years later, Walter’s vision has grown into a trusted name in the government sector, as well as commercial and industrial arenas. “Thermcor now has 54 employees and we’re primarily a marine insulation company,” he explains. “We do everything from air conditioning to refrigeration, sound dampening to noise absorption for government and commercial vessels and private yachts.”
Within its marine service niche, Thermcor offers installation services in fiberglass, polyimide and mineral wool hull insulation, as well as mineral wool fire proofing, mechanical systems and machinery systems, heat exchangers, steam and condensation systems, ventilation insulation, chilled water systems, boiler insulation, generators and main engine insulation and countless other marine-specific services.
“We also do sonar dome tiles, sound absorption tiles and vibration dampening tiles as specialized marine services,” details Walter.
While Thermcor’s niche market has always been marine-driven support, the company has also diversified into industrial and commercial services. “We provide an array of commercial and industrial insulation services to our customers, as well,” adds Walter.
The following professional services include, but are not limited to: hot and cold water piping, generators, AC plants, stacks and exhaust systems, freezer and refrigerator insulation, spray foam insulation, sheet metal and honeycomb sheathing, mechanical rooms, boiler breeching and exterior insulation, turbines, ventilation insulation, chilled water systems, Freon piping, steam and condensation systems and many more.
Thermcor’s extensive and high-profile client list includes a range of government and defense entities, including the Army, Navy, MSC, United States Coast Guard. Furthermore, the company serves marine services providers, such as HII, MHI, George G. Sharp, Boston Ship Repair LLC, NOAA, General Dynamics, Vigor Marine, Keystone Shipping, Nassco Norfolk, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, AMIS, AMSEC and Advex Corporation.
“We’ve been active in the modernization of new ships for the Navy and other government clients, but because these are proprietary projects, we have to keep the details private,” explains Walter. “I can say we are capable of performing many marine trade installation services. The only services we don’t offer are structural welding, pipe-fitting services and electrical services.”
Beyond the sea
Outside of the company’s military clientele, Thermcor has performed insulation services to town banks, as well as power plants and other industrial processing facilities. “We provided insulation services for a unique sage processing plant in North Carolina,” shares Walter. “The sage oil is used for perfume and the vats get super-hot, so they need to be insulated for personnel protection.”
“We have also completed a great deal of power plant work, renovating boiler plants in Cherry Point, N.C.,” adds Walter. “One of the next things on the horizon for Thermcor is more offshore rig work from Brownsville, Texas, and insulating container ships in New Orleans.”
Walter says Thermcor has managed to run a tight ship through the recession, putting the company in a good position for expansion as the market grows. “I see us branching in different areas and venues; maybe an office on the West Coast in the years to come,” he suggests.
But expansion requires manpower; something Walter says has been one of Thermcor’s biggest challenges. “It’s difficult to entice young people to enter an industry they think is dying, but it’s really not, in fact, it’s a necessity for our national security and economy,” assures Walter. “One of our greatest challenges is finding young and talented people to work for a company that’s up and coming like us.”
While Thermcor tries to recruit the next generation, the company continues to add to its list of satisfied clients. “We judge success on if everyone goes home safe and we have a satisfied customer at the end of the day that’s happy with the product,” says Walter. “I also look at my children and know that every day I go to work to make things happen for them.”
Thermcor continues to set the standard for quality workmanship and performance, servicing some of the nation’s largest marine clients and sealing the commercial and industrial markets, as well.
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