New Bedford firm applauded for contributions to SouthCoast economy

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Tucked away in a wooded corner of the New Bedford Industrial Park is the gleaming three-story headquarters of HTP Inc., maker of advanced heating and hot water systems.

With two manufacturing plants on Braley Road in East Freetown, HTP has 235 employees and counting. For its contribution to the economy of SouthCoast and the state as a whole, HTP is one of 18 finalists in an awards competition sponsored by MassEcon, the results of which will be announced in October. MassEcon, a nonprofit, private organization, is the state’s partner in economic development.

The Standard-Times sat down recently with HTP President David R. Martin:

How old is this business?

HTP was formed in 1974, so it’s relatively new.

What do you produce?

We produce high-efficiency boilers and water heaters and solar thermal equipment.

Is it a hot market right now?

Yeah, it’s pretty good. What we see is that the market continues to shift to more and more high efficiency. The other part that goes with it is high-efficiency products are also very good for the environment from the standpoint of very low greenhouse gas emissions.

So they use very little fuel and the fuel that they use they burn very efficiently.

How many employees do you have here?

We have about 235.

At some point you made a commitment to buy this building and expand the workforce in different stages. That represents quite a commitment to SouthCoast Massachusetts, doesn’t it?

Very much so.

Can you tell me what went into that decision?

Well we’re a second-generation family-owned company and this area of the country is really kind of known for hydronics. Hydronics means heating with water, and that’s a big part of what we do with the boilers. And we wanted to stay close to our manufacturing facilities in East Freetown. As we were looking for a place to expand because we needed to, we were very fortunate that this building in the New Bedford Industrial Park was for sale and was actually the closest large building that was available so it worked out very nice for us.

In this competition you’re a finalist and now you’re waiting for the results next month, I take it.

That’s correct.

They asked you to make a one-minute presentation. Can I hear it?

(Laughs) Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one who made the presentation. I was out of town and the person who made the presentation is on vacation in Mexico.

The citation here says ‘heating and hot water manufacturer that invested more than $4 million in a 77,000-square-foot expansion in New Bedford and added 16 jobs.’

This is the facility they’re talking about and in addition to that we added a total of 60 jobs. Out of that 60, 14 were here.

So what is next? Where is this company headed?

Onward and upward! Were having a record year this year and were continuing to grow. And the nice thing about the headquarters here is that we have room to grow from customer service, technical service, engineering, sales and marketing staff. We’ve added a second shift to our operations in our plants and we continue to add significant capital investments to make that facility more efficient and effective, so we’ve increased our capacity to produce to meet growing demand.

Do you get asked by other prospective companies that are thinking about moving to Greater New Bedford what is the story here, how will I be treated, what is the business atmosphere in this part of the world?

Yeah, a little bit. People generally, if they’re not from here, they’re kind of amazed that there’s manufacturing still in Massachusetts. We tell them that ‘yes, it is.’ We’ve been wonderfully treated by the City of New Bedford the Economic Development Council. I just came from a meeting among the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board. So it’s a really good, really great, business climate, very encouraging and attuned to the needs of manufacturers to provide good jobs for the citizens.

Are there any plans to expand the product line in some way?

We are. We continue to look to kind of grow our range from boilers for example to go into larger and larger sizes, commercial and industrial sizes.

Is this a crowded field that you’re in or do you have the playing field mostly to yourself?

(Laughs) It is crowded. We have no shortage of competitors. It’s kind of interesting. On the hydronic heat side, there’s probably 30-plus competitors. On the water heating side, there’s fewer. And so were an interesting company that really serves both markets well. Usually a company might do one or the other, but not do both. Water heating has been a big area for growth for us.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.