“Excellence in Cryogenics.” This is the mission statement of Kelvin International (KI), visibly embodied in its continued success around the globe. More than just a Hampton Roads business relying on local traffic to remain successful, the company has developed an international reputation of excellence as a result of its close-knit team and shared passion for engineering.
Started in 1993, the company’s website details the beginning of its history as “an exclusive agent for the Iwatani International Corporation of Japan, for promoting its line of semiconductor LN2 generators.” Al Guerra, an investor at the time, left his deputy position at Jefferson Lab in Newport News because he believed “it was time for me to go back to the industry.” With a background in the commercial world and a passion for engineering, Guerra eventually rose to the presidency and CEO position he currently holds.
Kelvin International specializes in cryogenic process engineering and equipment, as well as building products designed in its mechanical engineering group. “We are a full engineering house,” Guerra says.
The company had been in City Center at Oyster Point area for 11 years before moving to another building on Blue Crab Road in early August. Since the company is located in Hampton Roads, a region flanked with military bases and a heavy navy presence, one might assume that Kelvin International gets most of its business locally.
Although the company does work with the U.S. Navy, Guerra says, “Geography has nothing to do with where one’s business is nowadays. We are a global company. We have our equipment in the North Pole, South Pole and in every continent around the world, so we don’t limit ourselves to a particular geographic area. In fact, some of the local [military] bases — only one, maybe two of them are customers, and the rest buy from somewhere else.”
One of the reasons Guerra decided to run Kelvin International full-time was because he believed it needed the international boost that it currently has. “The Internet opened up the world for the rest of us,” he says.
The company has several different product lines because of its diversified array of customers. Work is performed on piers, offshore platforms, biological archives, semiconductor industry and in conjunction with food and beverage preparation. KI’s sales have also been boosted within the medical field and biological archives in recent months. “It’s not just one aspect or direction,” Guerra says about the products his company produces. “That’s the reason we are very successful.
“We are somewhat isolated in many regards unlike a lot of other companies,” he continues. “Nobody really walks through our door except delivery people. We are 100 percent ‘word of mouth’ and 100 percent reputation.”
Because of the company’s widespread success in the global market, Guerra often travels across the world to promote the company, resulting in repeat sales.
Another attribution to its success lies in its small, yet dedicated team. The company has 10 to 12 employees, including part-time workers, as well as a few expert engineers located in England. Guerra’s wife of 43 years, who he describes as his “best friend,” is the company’s CFO. “[Kelvin International] is a business,” Guerra says, “but we tend to look at it as more of a personal relationship with our associates.”
Guerra believes that “sometimes bigger is not better,” and the size of the team does not seem to divert their success, but multiply it instead. Certified as an ISO 9001, the company is CE-marked for international business, allowing its products and technology to be sold in Europe. The CE marking is a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.
Guerra and his wife are parents to three boys and five girls. He enjoys cooking and riding his motorcycles in his spare time.
The success of Kelvin International is the result of a team of passionate people who truly exemplify their motto in their everyday work and their camaraderie with one another. Their dedication to maintaining a reputation of excellence extends beyond Hampton Roads and into every corner of the world.
TO THE POINT:
Kelvin International Corporation
Address: 742 Bluecrab Road, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Al Guerra
Business: Engineering, cryogenic equipment