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Business is heating up: Pocahontas company breaks new ground with its heating-cooling system.

Mike Jones claims to have an advantage over his competition.

"We're not playing on a level field," says the president of Hydro-Temp Corp.

The Pocahontas firm produces what are known as earth-coupled heat pumps. There are major differences between a normal heat pump, used to cool homes in the summer and heat them in the winter, and Hydro-Temp's product.

Regular heat pumps draw in air, which is then heated or cooled depending on the season and pumped into the home. The earth-coupled heat pump draws water from the ground, using either groundwater or captive water. The water is circulated through pipes buried beneath the ground.

During the summer, the Hydro-Temp system utilizes a compressor and refrigerant like a normal air conditioning unit. Heat from inside the home is transferred to the refrigerant by means of the pump. The refrigerant is then cooled by the water.

In the winter, the system is reversed. The refrigerant is compressed and becomes hot. Coming out of the compressor, the refrigerant is passed through a fan coil that blows heat into the home. The heated refrigerant is then pushed through an expansion valve that allows it to expand and become cold again.

From The Start

Jones knows a lot about the product his company sells. That's because he patented this version of the heat pump. It was developed by Jones and his staff in 1980.

Jones says his father, a retired customer service representative for Arkansas Power & Light Co., convinced him to branch out from an already successful heating and cooling business in 1974. Adding a home insulation division provided Jones with the impetus to develop an earth-coupled heat pump.

By 1977, Jones had constructed a prototype. Later that year, he sold the first system to Charles King, a Pocahontas retiree. Since the heat pump was installed in his home, King has spent hundreds of hours discussing the device's advantages with interested parties. He has been quoted in several industry publications.

"I couldn't have asked for a better first customer," says Jones, 41.

Hydro-Temp has continued to grow. Its 15,000-SF plant, a mile south of Pocahontas on U.S. 67, will be expanded by another 10,000 SF within 18 months, Jones says.

He expects to sell more than 600 systems this year through a dealer network in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and even Pennsylvania.

Increased sales have come despite the fact that Hydro-Temp doesn't advertise its product. Jones relies on satisfied customers for word-of-mouth promotion.

"We've never advertised," says Jones, who runs the company with Vice President Steve Hudson. "We would have to turn people away and make them angry. Or we would have to grow beyond our quality control."
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Hdyro-Temp Corp.
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Apr 27, 1992
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