Today, Infratech is one of the leading manufacturers of outdoor heating products—but it hasn’t always been that way. Infratech’s journey started humbly more than 60 years ago.
In the early 1950s, Bill Petro moved west from Michigan to Los Angeles with two very important tools in his possession: an entrepreneurial spirit and an understanding of engineering. Motivated by a desire to work for himself, he opened a metal fabricating job shop called Apextro and started fabricating a simple portable infrared heater called the “Speedray.” The Speedray was used for curing auto paint, as were many of Apextro’s products at the time—everything from large industrial ovens to spot heaters.
The company continued steadily until Bill’s son, Bill Petro Jr., took over in 1983. Bill Jr. changed their name to Infratech and decided to focus exclusively on manufacturing infrared products and industrial finishing systems.
“Bill Jr’s legacy is really what Infratech continues to build upon today,” says Joe Petro, Bill Sr.’s grandson and Infratech’s Vice President and Lead Engineer. “Our product lines include units he designed, and we follow his philosophy that Infratech will offer a complete solution for every project we take. It’s a privilege to be the third generation—a unique opportunity to build upon the work and experiences of my father and grandfather.”
"They were able to solve problems and apply infrared technology in ways that other companies just weren’t doing."
The Petro family led Infratech into the new millennium, and in the mid-2000s, they sold the company to John Mazzotta. Mazzotta saw huge potential in Infratech, and great opportunities for growth.
“The Petro family were extraordinarily great engineers,” says Dave Arnold, Infratech’s Director of Sales. “They were able to solve problems and apply infrared technology in ways that other companies just weren’t doing.”
Despite the solid engineering groundwork that the Petros had already established, Mazzotta realized that the real future of the company wasn’t in the automotive industry. Instead, he saw that the best opportunities lied in the comfort industry—places like hotels, resorts, restaurants, and home backyards.
Mazzotta formed a three-pronged strategy that relied on design, engineering, and manufacturing, and he moved the teams for those separate divisions under one Californian roof. Any growth the company gained was reinvested in equipment, innovation, marketing, and quality. Mazzotta guaranteed that Infratech was always working with the best fabrication machines and using the highest quality materials, while also making sure every employee felt valued.
These commitments paid off. Under Mazzotta’s leadership, Infratech focused on medium wave infrared heat technology for comfort heat. Arnold says that unlike the harsh orange light of short wave infrared heat, medium wave heat creates a warm and pleasing glow that’s much better for outdoor entertaining.
Infratech was also the first company to create recessed outdoor heaters that could be mounted flush into a ceiling for a sleek and attractive look. This immediately drew the attention of many architects and designers.
As a result of all this innovation, Infratech has experienced incredible growth as a company since the mid-2000s.
“Part of it is that we’re capitalizing on the market awareness of the efficiency and the beauty of electric heating versus some of the alternatives out there,” says Arnold. “The whole outdoor electric heating market is growing like crazy, and we’re leading that charge.”
The other part is Mazzotta’s three-pronged design, engineering, and manufacturing strategy. Having all three divisions under one roof allows Infratech to “turn on a dime,” says Arnold—to quickly innovate and bring solutions to the market or a specific customer.
“Every installation varies widely,” says Joe Petro. “Infratech is, at its core, an engineering firm that offers complete solutions for each installation.”
Offering a complete solution is exactly what Infratech did for the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas.
“In one of their patios, they had a very, very unique application,” explains Arnold. “They had these special cowling lamps that they wanted to use with our heaters, but they wouldn’t work without being modified. So we found a local glassblower, and we worked with them to redo our elements so they’d fit.”
“Infratech is, at its core, an engineering firm that offers complete solutions for each installation.”
Arnold says that they were able to retrofit their heating technology to the lamp fixtures, and the Wynn ended up using them throughout their property. They were a huge success, too. “We got calls from people about them: ‘Oh, I want that heater!’ But we have to say that’s not actually what we manufacture. It was a custom solution.”
Arnold says that creating custom solutions like that is what Infratech loves to do. “It wasn’t just that we could do it, we were willing to do it. We love that stuff. We love solving those problems.”
Solving problems is what Infratech is all about. The engineering know-how that Bill Sr. started Apextro with in the 1950s is still at the heart of the company today. So when you purchase an Infratech heater, that’s what you’re getting: Innovation made in America.