Protecting lives, property and the environment from hazardous gas leaks requires modern detection technology. Scott Kleppe, CEO of SENSIT Technologies discusses the products and services his company offers the industry.
As the majority of gases are invisible to the human eye, detecting any gas or hazardous chemical leaks can be an incredibly complex process. Furthermore, safety and speed of detection must always be a prime concern for both engineers and the general public, and so the use of appropriate, up to date technology is essential.
With a rich cultural family heritage of protecting the environment from combustible and hazardous gases for more than 35 years, SENSIT Technology, based in Valparaiso, Indiana, US, designs, manufactures and services a comprehensive range of gas detection instruments, indicators and monitoring equipment.
Scott Kleppe, CEO, and son of the company’s founding entrepreneurs, John and Nancy Kleppe, tells us more about the history of how this innovative family led organisation has revolutionised gas detection techniques, how it differentiates itself from its competitors and, through taking on the leadership role, his views on values, ethics and success.
Could you provide us with a bit of background into the company, its formation, journey and current industry position?
SENSIT Technologies, formally J and N Enterprises, as the company was initially known, was the brainchild of my parents, John and Nancy Kleppe. Running a business had always been their dream and in March 1980 this vision became a reality.
My father developed his career in the corrosion control area of the natural gas utility industry, marketing, selling and servicing the company’s only product – Gas Trac, which was the result of a collaborative initiative of a major gas utility company and the Illinois Institute of Technology. Building on this opportunity, both my parents invested significant time and resources into this and the ongoing promotion and development of further products into both the HVAC market and natural gas industry.
The company has enjoyed a rapid journey of growth and development with over 100 employees who are dedicated to moving the company forward through new facilities, products and markets. From our state of the art operations in Valparaiso, we are currently able to supply a global market of more than 40 countries with the latest hazardous gas detection technology. Our research and development team constantly respond to customer needs by developing new technologies for an ever-increasing market.
Was it a foregone conclusion that you would eventually join the family business, and if not, how did this happen?
From my perspective, joining the family business was certainly not something I ever envisaged myself doing. In fact, at the time of my parents establishing the company, I had completed my college studies and embarked on my own career. My personality and that of my father were not completely aligned, each of us approaching things from different angles, and so joining the company was neither an aspiration nor a potential career move I ever gave consideration to.
My introduction and transition into SENSIT Technologies was not without its challenges. In July 1984, four years after founding the business, my father employed me as a salesman, but made me take on such a multitude of tasks unrelated to selling Gas Trac (our only product at the time) that I was certain he had ulterior motives – making life difficult to force me to quit!
Obviously you weathered the storm, gained wider knowledge and experience, and have now taken over the helm as CEO. Can you tell us about your progression and also that of SENSIT Technologies?
It’s been a continual process of evolving and adapting to market needs. During the 80s I worked on developing a distribution programme for our product through a series of manufacturer’s representatives and distributors. This proved to be so successful that it enabled us to reinvest into the next generation of leak detectors for HVAC contractors, SENSIT.
Since this point the company has continued to expand and introduce new products, including refrigeration detection equipment to the HVAC market, combustible gas detection products to the natural gas industry, carbon monoxide detectors for personal use and residential gas monitors offered through our natural gas clients.
My appointment to CEO in 1999 arose as a result of my father’s ill health and since his passing in 2000, I’ve been delighted to follow in his footsteps and continue his dream.
We’ve complemented our team with additional engineering personnel, added our Trak-it range and updated our other SENSIT detectors. In collaboration with the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) we’ve carried out many innovative projects, including infrared based leak survey equipment for both personal and vehicle applications, an infrared identifier to determine biogas from oil based methane and an acoustic pipe locator (Ultra-Trac APL) to locate buried plastic pipe.
We’re currently working on the third generation of Sensit Gold for natural gas and fire service customers as well as laser based leak detection products and environmental monitors for emission detection of methane and other volatile organic compounds.
In your opinion, what distinguishes you from your competitors?
I firmly believe a combination of three factors act as our main differentiators from the competition.
Firstly, our emphasis on customer service. We have a truly dedicated team, and a company philosophy of working together with a common goal – “To protect life and property from hazardous gases.’ SENSIT invests heavily in its staff, developing potential through education and opportunities for advancement.
Secondly, our range of products and equipment. From million dollar companies to multi nationals worth billions, our clients require tailor made solutions and our strategy is to have a wide enough product line to satisfy all needs.
Thirdly, it’s our ‘go to market’ strategy with a network of sales staff, product management, representatives and distributors. Basically, the right people with the right skill set.
Do you foresee any challenges on the workplace horizon, how do you plan to overcome these and do you have a future vision for SENSIT Technologies?
Aging infrastructure, workforce development, environmental concerns and regulatory demands are ongoing challenges which we will always endeavour to solve. To this end, we are actively pursuing like-minded companies to partner with us to bring innovative solutions to our clients as they deal with the pressures associated with the business.
And finally, you mentioned earlier about being delighted to continue your parent’s entrepreneurial dream. What would you say you are most proud of?
That’s very difficult to pinpoint as there’s so many things. In particular, the SENSIT staff and representatives for believing in the organisation and helping it to grow. Every day someone somewhere uses our products to safeguard life and property and that’s an incredible reason to be proud of everyone involved in the SENSIT chain.
Paying testament to my parents’ dream, I know my father would be proud of the amazing journey and success of SENSIT and in turn, that also makes me extremely proud.
Company news together with a full range of products and services offered by SENSIT Technologies, can be found on their website – www.gasleaksensors.com