Featured Interview -- David Musto

David Musto

David Musto is president, CEO and co-founder of Thermo Systems LLC

David Musto, Thermo Systems LLC

ADDEDThursday, July 22, 2021

  • Q
    Q: Why should a prospective customer hire a CSIA member?
    A
    A: I’ll take it a step further and say look at CSIA Certified members. Thermo is CSIA Certified, and it’s made us better. Every time we get re-certified, we come out of it with new ideas of how to continue to get better both internally and the way we serve our customers.
    
    I highly recommend it not only for my systems integrator counterparts but certainly for customers looking for a partner, that’s a great place to start because it’s a baseline that tells you, “OK, I’m looking at a group of businesses that have been evaluated.”
    
  • Q
    Q: What does learning and development look like at Thermo?
    A
    A: It’s really evolved over the last couple of years, and I credit our Learning and Development (L & D) team and our management team on the ground for how they’ve transformed Thermo over the last 3 years with all the new people coming on. 
    
    We have a program called Thermo U, and it’s all encompassing that includes soft skills training as well as technology training. There’s really been a big emphasis on soft skills training in the last couple of years.
    
    The training is both virtual as well as in-person.
    
    In the in-person training, we’re sending folks to both technology training and we send folks to Rockwell classes, one of our classes, other technology. We send the management team through several different management and people training programs.
    
    We have a robust in-house, in-person training program – which is more at the supervisor or manager level. We have two supervisor training programs coming up this summer that provide a variety of management and soft skills training. We host one in the East, and then we have one in the West.
    
    And the cool thing is we measure it, which is something new in the last couple of years. I really credit our operations and our L & D leadership. We now measure it, number of people engaged in training, hours of training executed whether it’s someone doing an eight-hour e-learning class, or going to a two-day seminar, they log their time. I get a report every month on the metrics, and we share with the whole leadership team. We also have targets that we monitor.
    
    We have a training budget, and the budget isn’t to exceed it, it’s making sure that we’re spending it.
    
  • Q
    Q: What kinds of trends and challenges are you seeing in industrial automation right now?
    A
    A: Automation is growing. Customers are continuing to invest capital in automation, in so many sectors and, certainly, all the sectors we play in, which is great. The trend and the driver now are building teams. Recruiting, staffing and training are really the differentiator. At Thermo, we have a full-time in-house recruiting team that coordinates all our college recruiting as well as hiring in all the new geographies that we work in. 
  • Q
    Q: What would you say is unique about how you approach a project?
    A
    A: Our focus is more on the customer than the project itself. We look to be a customer partner and partner for life. The project is the project, and it needs to get done. And it needs to get done right, on time, and on budget. But we try to look past just the project to really serve the customer for the long term. 
    
    So much of our business is generated from repeat business. We’re not just focused on doing the project, we want to be their post-commissioning support, we’ve got a large national service and support network that provides lifecycle post-commissioning support for the long term. 
    
    It’s really about putting the right team on the project. If it’s a data center project, I would try and put men and women on the project who had data center experience, or they have validated life sciences experience for life sciences customers. 
    
    Our head of engineering and some of our senior technologist may chuckle a little and be like, “Dave, come on man. It’s all about a proper design and outstanding development.” And they’re right. And I don’t mean to minimize that at all. The focus in the beginning is on the higher level of client. And then we dive into making sure that the technology is rock solid.
    
  • Q
    Q: What would you say is the smartest decision your company has made recently?
    A
    A: We just launched  our Thermo Women in Automation program. I’m so proud of the group of women at Thermo that took the time to put this together and address this initiative. As you know, in the automation industry, it’s predominantly male, so it’s great to see the number of women growing and that we’re able to attract.
    
    Going back to April timeframe when nobody knew what was going on in the pandemic, we made the decision to not cancel our intern program or cancel or delay any of our recent college grad hiring. 
    
    We had 13 college grads and technician school grads set up to start a year ago; we had 7 or 6 interns scheduled to start. We made the decision – even if it is all remote -- to bring on everybody. Even if they don’t have a great experience because they’re working remote, at least we’re giving these young people a start in their career.
    
    In hindsight, not only was it the right decision for those young people, here we are today, and we’re continuing to add staff as our business expanded. 
    
    Where would we be without having these extra hands onboard? Three of those interns converted to full-time hires this year. It really paid off in having us be able to build our staff.
    
  • Q
    Q: How has Thermo Systems grown or changed in the past year? And what do you expect for your company in the next 12 to 24 months?
    A
    A: We’ve been so fortunate that over the last 12 months we’ve seen substantial growth. The markets we serve -- data centers, life sciences, and the small power-generation market -- remain strong and continue to grow through the pandemic. And Thermo continued to grow. We continue to add revenue, continue to add staff, all through the pandemic. We see the same moving forward. Though we’d like to see the growth level off to be slow and steady. 
  • Q
    Q: What suppliers do you work with? And are you certified or endorsed with any you’d like to mention?
    A
    A: Just like our focus in industries, we have a strong focus in technology and technology partners. We’re a long-time Rockwell Solution Partner (SP). In fact, we’re one of the largest SPs globally. The majority of our 180 technologists are very deep with Rockwell. 
    
    But in addition, we have very strong partnerships with Cisco, Dell; other software manufacturers, Ignition, Wonderware, a little bit of GE. Those are our core strengths.
    
  • Q
    Q: Do you specialize in any industry, product or discipline, and why or why not?
    A
    A: We focus primarily in three areas: mission critical, the data center market; district energy, which is boiler plants, chiller plants, co-generation micro grids in that campus level 5- to-50-megawatt power plant arena; and then life sciences, both life sciences manufacturing and critical HVAC for life sciences. 
    
    We bring a lot of domain expertise to the customer project. Our team focuses on understanding the customer’s needs and the customer’s industry even more so than understanding controls and PLCs and instrumentation and computer systems.
    
  • Q
    Q: Let's start by talking a little bit more about your global company. What international markets does Thermo operate in?
    A
    A: We started the company in New Jersey 23 years ago, and we’ve since expanded coast to coast. There’s 9 brick and mortar locations from New Jersey through Pittsburg, Texas; Salt Lake City; all the way to the Bay Area, Pleasanton, California. There are an additional 11 field locations in the U.S., where we’ve got team members stationed at the client facilities. 
    
    Our headquarters in Europe is in Denmark. We have a large team based in Denmark that supports some work in Finland and the Netherlands.