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Cadillac of thermometers cooking up business at American Fork headquarters

By Karissa Neely daily Herald - | Oct 4, 2015
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Randy Owen, CEO of ThermoWorks, poses for a portrait at their building in American Fork on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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An array of ThermoWorks' products are displayed at their building in American Fork on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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Randy Owen, CEO of ThermoWorks, poses for a portrait at their building in American Fork on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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Wesley Scholl repairs a ThermoWorks Therapen at their building in American Fork on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

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Wesley Scholl repairs a ThermoWorks Thermapen at their building in American Fork on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. GRANT HINDSLEY, Daily Herald

ThermoWorks in American Fork is a high-tech company that’s not succeeding in the Cloud, but right where people are every day: the kitchen.

ThermoWorks was founded almost two decades ago by CEO Randy Owen and his wife, Suzette, and built around measuring temperature. The company has many products which gauge manufacturing and production temperatures,

“The Thermapen is the Cadillac of cooking thermometers,” said Tim Robinson, marketing director at ThermoWorks.

After more than five years reigning at the top for serious cooks, ThermoWorks upgraded the Thermapen for more efficient uses within the culinary industry, dubbing it the Thermapen MK4. The thermometer, used by industry professionals worldwide and the top-rated food thermometer by America’s Test Kitchen, can read a temp within two seconds, and then shows real-time changes while cooking. Its display is also updated to auto-rotate for use in any situation. As with the previous version of the Thermapen, it can accurately measure temperatures from -58° to 572° F within 0.7 of a degree.

“We believe that the best design is invisible,” said Owen. “One of the things that makes the Thermapen so powerful is that there are no buttons. You open the probe to turn it on. We’ve followed that logic with all of our new design improvements so that the features are there when you need them but you never have to think about them. The culinary process is complicated enough without having to think about your tools.”

Robinson said sales of the Thermapen alone are a sizable chunk of ThermoWorks’ revenues. The thermometer is used in high-end restaurants and kitchens, by chain-of-command food handlers, and in food manufacturing businesses worldwide. Lately, the Thermapen has been the go-to product for regular home chefs who want quality results, and has seen a huge adoption in the grilling community, Robinson said.

“We’re bringing scientific technology into the kitchen, and we have customers who have been using it for more than 15 years, and say they can’t cook without it,” Owen said. “As a chef becomes more knowledgeable, our products become more valuable.”

All this interest has spurred consistent growth for the family-owned company, with annual growth averaging at about 30 percent. Due to this, the company has outgrown its buildings every five years. So at the end of August, the roughly 50 employees moved from Lindon into what is supposed to be their final building in American Fork.

The new building is 80,000 square feet, and can house up to 300 employees. It houses an industry-standard testing facility where ThermoWorks employees test and recalibrate thermometers, and a maintenance and repair room where employees clean, fix, and maintain customers’ products. The warehouse can ship 5,000 packages each day, and has growing room for more shipping lines.

Owen designed the building to grow with the company, but also to highlight the company’s dedication to cuisine and the art of cooking. In addition to a large test kitchen that is regularly used to test products and recipes, the business celebrates the essence of food with 23 large-format food photographs taken by Nathan Myhrvold and his team for the award-winning multi-volume work, “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.” The photographs, which have been featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Science in Boston and the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, are now on permanent display at the ThermoWorks headquarters.

“We love cooking, and getting in on the science of it at a molecular level,” Robinson said.

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