The year was 1988. Standard Aero of Winnipeg had made the business decision to exit the aircraft piston-engine servicing business. Alvin Gregorash, an independent aircraft parts broker and former Standard Aero employee, put everything on the line to buy and take over the servicing business from Standard Aero. He took on this risk because of his belief in the long-term value and necessity of the business and to save the livelihoods of its employees. Thus, Aero Recip (Canada) was born.
In the meantime, a couple of other gentlemen who were working in the portable heating industry, learned of a new style of heater that Biemmedue (BM2), an Italian-based manufacturing company, had designed, namely: the indirect-fired heater. This design was revolutionary for the market because indirect-fired heaters separate the combustion exhaust and fumes, expelling them through a chimney, from the hot air that comes out of the front of the heater. This meant that the hot air that the indirect-fired heaters produced was 100% clean, breathable air unlike that of the direct-fired heaters which expelled everything, including the exhaust fumes, out of the front of the heater. Naturally, this was a massive breakthrough and selling feature in the portable heating industry.
Within the first few years, Gregorash noticed a potential need for heat in the hangars of their clients. He discussed the possibility of starting a new portable heating business with the two gentlemen with whom he had become acquainted – they possessed the heater technical know-how, and Gregorash, now with a few years of Aero Recip (Canada) success under his belt, could provide the financial backing to bring these revolutionary products to the North American market.
Coincidentally, Biemmedue (BM2) was, at the same time, looking for a way to sell their heaters on this side of the pond. So, in 1993, armed with this new technology, Gregorash and his partners made the decision to start importing the Italian-made Biemmedue (BM2) Arcotherm heaters to service the needs of their aviation clients and all other potential markets. The name of this new portable heater distributing company: Canadian Thermal Dynamics.
Over the next few years, Gregorash bought Canadian Thermal Dynamics outright from his two other partners and took over full control of the business and changed its name to Cantherm Distributors.
Cantherm Distributors realized further success after marketing state-side the various Biemmedue (BM2) Arcotherm heaters it was carrying. The Arcotherm heaters became very popular throughout North America, and other US-based distributors joined the party after seeing what Cantherm was offering. Under Gregorash’s guidance, Cantherm continued its upward trajectory, realizing a peak in 2014.
Due to various challenging factors and constraints, a decision was made in 2018 to sell Cantherm Distributors or otherwise liquify and dissolve the business. Ironically, this was starting to resemble Aero Recip’s own origin story due to Standard Aero’s decision to shut things down in 1988.
Through a mutual connection, Eddie Gortemaker learned in December 2018 that Cantherm Distributors was available for purchase. At the time, Gortemaker had experience working as part of the third generation in a family business, Premier Printing Ltd., and was looking to put this experience and his business education to work.
Gortemaker bought Cantherm Distributors from Gregorash Aviation in April 2019, and right away started the work of rebuilding a business that had been preparing to shut down. His first order of business was to share the news with Cantherm’s clients that he would be available to continue to service their needs for the foreseeable future. Next, he made a visit to the Biemmedue (BM2) factory in Cherasco, Italy in June 2019 to get a deeper understanding of the supplier, the products, and the philosophy to better serve Cantherm’s clients and prospects.
Most businesses face struggles in their first years of operations, but, less than a year into ownership, Gortemaker was faced with an unprecedented challenge – global lockdowns. With all the uncertainty that confronted most in 2020 and 2021, sales became difficult, and the struggles were compounded by disrupted supply chains, spiking exchange rates, and the like. Despite all of this, sales grew year-over-year, and Gortemaker was able to continue to reinvest in Cantherm and our future.
Today, Cantherm Distributors continues its mission of serving the client by building its dealer network to provide end users with great local service and support, continuously working with the Biemmedue (BM2) team to make improvements to the heaters, offering new products like the Yanmar portable diesel generators and custom-designed adapters for the heaters, increasing available inventory and variety of heaters, accessories, and repair parts, and in many other ways.
Contact us now to find out how Cantherm can add to the history of your business by supporting you in your own success story.