When people ask me how I started up a water maker company while out cruising and living aboard on a boat in Mexico, they usually look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them, "It just happened". When I built my own high output water maker I didn't have plans of one day going into the water maker business, but as circumstances developed, "it just happened". It has become a job complete with schedules, deadlines and at times even stress. Even on the bad days I love it (yes, there are a few bad days, everyone has them). But what's not to love about working from a desk aboard a boat on a mooring ball in either Morro Bay or Port San Luis talking to excited cruisers about planning to casting off on their own adventure? I get to relive our excitement with almost every call. As other products were added, they "just happened". We added DC Power Solutions high output alternators, Sterling Power battery chargers, a KISS wind generator, and WinchRite to the list of items we carry and sell.
There are two things in common with the products we decided to sell. First, I develop a good relationship with the owner of the company and know his reputation for a quality product and good customer service. Second, it is a product I had either used myself while out cruising or wanted to use myself, but was stuck with what I had at the time. Spending some time out cruising helps you shake out the winners and losers in the cruising gear field because no glossy brochure or smooth talking salesman can protect his product from the harsh realities of full time live aboard cruising. How does this tie into Technautics Marine Refrigeration? History is repeating itself.
When we purchased our Hudson Force 50 in San Diego mid-way through our cruise in Mexico, it didn't have a good refrigeration system. In fact, all it had was a 120V dorm style refrigerator. We bought an Engle 12v freezer for added room but it was only a band aid on our food storage situation. We knew we wanted to install an efficient boat freezer and refrigerator, but the priority at the time was getting back to Mexico. Since we did not start the refit project in San Diego we've had to live with the horrendous daily power usage. Now that life back in the States has "settled down" a bit, the refit project list has at the top, a new refrigerator and freezer. After two summers in Mexico on our Pearson 365 Ketch with an Alder Barbour Super Cold Machine sucking down in excess of 100AH/Day, it was easy for us to rule that unit out from an efficiency standpoint. Based on research, experiences I had in Mexico, and talking to other cruisers about their refrigerator/freezer, I found that a holding plate system called "Cool Blue" made by Technautics Inc.
in Costa Mesa, California kept rising to the top of the list. I was able to spend some time with Randy, the owner of Technautics. During the slow times at the boat shows, I had the chance to pour over his data from 1968 when he started Technautics until now. When two scientists start pouring over data, and get excited about numbers, I knew I had found the lowest power consuming marine refrigeration unit on the market. I found the fridge/freezer unit I wanted to install in THIRD DAY.
What happened next that led me from being just another client to the new owner of Technautics is a blur of circumstance, opportunity, legal documents and signatures, but here I am...."it just happened". Lori is convinced that a much easier way to try and get a "deal" on a Cool Blue refrigeration unit for our boat would have been to just wait until the Oakland Boat Show rather than buying the company. But the more I understood and dug into the technology behind the Cool Blue system, the more I wanted to be a part of it.
Randy has been building marine refrigeration units for longer than I have been alive. After 45 years of designing, building and refining the Cool Blue System, Randy couldn't just sleep in and leave his baby in new hands and sail off to Fiji. Part of the agreement is that Randy will remain onboard with the company to pass on his years of experience and provide technical support. This will finally give him the time to work on developing a few new products that he has been noodling over the years without the time to build due to his day to day running of the business. Randy loves going to the boat shows and will be doing those with us as long as he likes, and of course he does it because part of the Technautics booth display is a working Cool Blue Freezer and Refrigerator stocked with Ice Cream, Dove Bars, Cold beer and gourmet deli meats and cheeses. So good bye to the dull boat show sandwiches because now I get to write down "marketing boat show display costs" for the tax man and have good eats for me!
I have already told Lori that she might not see me much in April and May, as we move the Cool Blue production facility from its current Costa Mesa location to our facility in Escondido. Should it bother me that she was ok with that? Hmmm, I need to think about that more for a minute. So the truth is out and once again it is all about the food with me. From the towns I liked in Mexico to buying a marine refrigeration business. If anyone knows of an authentic Mexican Taco Cart business looking for a buyer, drop me an email because my secret (which I guess isn't too secret) is out!