Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2014 6:30 am


One of the most exceptional companies in the Stephenville area is Pal-Con Ltd., a one-of-a kind industrial company that, among other things, is helping companies that use industrial turbines save fuel and help protect the environment. The company employs between 65 and 120 people depending upon project loads.

Randy Thompson is president of the company and his sister, Tamela Mund, is vice president and CFO. They, along with their father and mother started the business in March of 1995 in Godly and moved it to a new facility outside Stephenville in 2006. Their parents are now retired.

"Our main clientele are companies in the gas and oil industries, but actually we work with anyone who has a turbine engine," Thompson said. "We build a heat exchanger that's called a regenerator. What that does is transfer heat from turbine exhaust to the intake air of the turbine engine, which makes the fuel burn more efficiently and thus saves fuel. It saves anywhere from 15 to 40 percent in fuel consumption.

"Just in the last year we've gotten into the environmental side of turbine exhausts. We've started building and putting on catalytic converters [similar to those used in automobiles] for the turbines. That takes carbon out of the exhaust and is far better for the environment."

He explains that the idea for the catalytic converters for industrial turbines wasn't Pal-Con's.

"We had a client come to us and ask us if we could do it and we did it. So now were involved in a two-year project installing them that's going to ultimately end up being about a five-year project. We'll be going from Houston all the way up to Boston, putting those on all through their system."

Thompson explains that Pal-Com does the retrofitting and installation and that they have crews all over. They've sent crews to Singapore, Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and all around the continental United States.

Pal-Con is partnering with Ranger College in their Skills Development Grant program, about which Thompson is extremely enthusiastic.

"Kellie Hamm, our executive services administrator, came to me with the idea for us to get involved; I was reluctant to do it at first thinking it would be a lot of red tape and a waste of time," he said. "But she kept coming back with the idea and finally I told her if she wanted to do it, go ahead. So it was really more Kellie than Tamela or me that got us into it."

Thompson says it turned out to be like Hamm had said; it wasn't that hard to implement and it's worked out very well.

"The actual training started about six months ago," he said, adding that their business needs people with specialized trade knowledge such as welders, painters, industrial insulation people and a whole array of other skill sets.

"We've had great feedback from our employees that the training they've received is just unbelievable. Many of them have said they thought they knew their stuff until they went," he said. "It's been very helpful because what we do is so specialized. We're only one of two companies in the world that build what we build, and we're actually the only one that builds our type."

As an example of the need for special skills he says, "We have the second-largest hydrogen brazing oven in the world, and we can't just hire somebody that's used it before because there are so few of them and almost nothing this large. The average hydrogen oven is about the size of a laptop; you could park a truck in the one we have here. The point is, a lot of our training has to be from the ground up."

Thompson says that he can't praise Ranger College's vice president Dr. Kerry Schindler highly enough.

"He's just been great with this and between Kellie and Dr. Schindler, this has really worked out for well everybody involved."