Tell us about your background that led you to become “The Heat Treat Doctor.”
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in metallurgy from the University of Illinois, and then I studied my first love, mathematics, in graduate school at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Although teaching was definitely an option, I never really considered entering academia because I was more interested in getting my hands dirty in the real world. My first job was with Lindberg, which manufactures industrial furnaces.
Our next-door neighbor, who was a good friend of my father’s, worked there, and he had encouraged me to seek a position with the company since I’d expressed an interest in what he did for a living. I ended up in the positions of chief metallurgist and chief engineer for that company before I became corporate metallurgist for C.I. Hayes, which manufactures industrial vacuum and atmosphere furnaces. I was then director of research & development and new business development at Ipsen International. I was only there for a short time, but these positions add up to more than 25 years of experience under my belt before I decided to focus all of my energies on The Herring Group, which I’d founded in 1995.
In addition I’ve written more than 200 articles—all of which are listed in our Web site’s online technical library—and three books on thermal processing and related topics, and I’m a technical editor and monthly columnist for Industrial Heating magazine. I am a member of ASM International, SME, SAE International, and the AGMA, where I’ve been involved in a number of technical committees. So you can see that this is an industry I’ve been fully engaged in for quite a few years, and I still find every aspect of it to be fascinating.
What should our readers know about your company’s services?
The services we provide are nearly as extensive as the types of activities our clients are engaged in, running the gamut from consulting services—having to do with heat treating, metallurgy, and equipment—to education and training, involving in-house seminars for basic to advanced audiences. We provide technical services, offering insights into product development and even lab setup, and field support involving equipment inspections and troubleshooting of various processes. We also conduct market studies and assist with new product launches having to do with the heat treat and sintering industry.
What I think really sets us apart from other consultants, however, is that my experience as a scientist, equipment designer, metallurgist, and business executive allows us to communicate with every level found within an organization. What we’re really talking about is efficiency, whether that has to do with customer service, interoffice communications, manufacturing processes, or operating expenses. We’ve been told by our customers that we’ve helped them increase their productivity—including improving the output of the company’s employees—while lowering their energy and operating costs, all of which increases profitability.
Even though you chose not to enter academia, it seems that you’ve still become a teacher.
That’s true. I like talking about “real-world” subjects, and teaching is something that I thoroughly enjoy—to the extent that I find myself giving quite a few lectures over the course of the year, in addition to the classes we conduct. And those classes are specifically tailored to the customer’s needs, whether that involves a single person or a hundred, and we’ll hold them in the classroom or on the shop floor, whatever the situation calls for. And I’m also a research associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Thermal Processing Technology Center, so you’re absolutely right, my work has always been an interesting mix of real-world experience and the types of intellectual pursuits you’d typically find in the university setting. But I love to learn, and I guess there’s no better use for the knowledge you’ve acquired than to share it with those who can benefit the most, so that’s really at the core of what The Herring Group is all about.