Creative energy and entrepreneurial genius are evident as soon as you walk through the threshold of the Titus Industrial Group Inc. property on Northwest Gardner Road.
Pure joy exudes as Lewis Titus explains his many inventions and projects that he and his wife who is president of the certified Women Owned Business have accomplished over the past 35 years since moving to Central Oregon. Lewis is an inventor who sees a problem, finds a solution, then sets to work on making it happen.
Titus Industrial Group, Inc. has been providing innovative and effective solutions for water, wastewater, and storm water industries throughout North America for more than two decades. They pride themselves on creating and distributing products that are not only cost-effective but provide solutions that enhance safety and address the challenges facing these industries.
Some of the products that have been patented by Titus's include Twister® Mixing Aerator, Twister® FL Floating Aerator, Ozone Enhanced Systems.
They are also a distributor for Solmax Studliner, EJ Composite Covers/with the Titus TwistLIFT® Security Lock, Tapecoat Tapes and Coatings, and Aqua Seal.
Lewis and Jeane'e Titus are native-born Oregonians. They lived in Oakridge, Oregon when they first got married. The couple have two adult children and have been married for 48 years. They moved to Bend in 1985 to work for DAW Sawmill.
"It's now the Old Mill District—I actually worked there when they had a smokestack that worked. Soon after that, I got a job at Willamette Industries in the particle board plant," said Lewis of his beginnings in the working world.
Lewis had a total of 27 years as a Millwright when a friend, who had gone to work at Pacific Gas Transmission, (now TransCanada), encouraged Lewis to apply. He was hired and worked there for nine years. In 1985, the couple were wanting to start their own business, as they had reached the empty nest portion of their lives. They began the business by selling an industrial tape—which was used on the pipelines to waterproof the pipelines.
"The company that made the tape came up with a brand-new kind of tape and got it patented and it had an integrated primer. We didn't have to use primers, and it was the stickiest stuff you ever seen in your life. It's very expensive commercial tape. I said, "I bet I could sell that stuff," Lewis commented of their business beginnings.
One year later, he cut ties with Pacific Gas and Electric and began selling the tape. He still sells the tape for Tapecoat, but his business has morphed into many diversifications. They are a manufacturer's rep, distributors for products, and they manufacture products they have patented. One of their big customers for the tape is Bend Tarp and Liner, who have used the product for their pond liners.
"Most of those are made of polyethylene. Nothing sticks to polyethylene but our tape sticks to it—even under water."
Lewis said they were introduced to GSE Environmental Inc. now (Solmax Inc.) in Houston, Texas, who was one of the largest manufacturers of sheet polyethylene in the world. They began selling the tape to them in large quantities. GSE was also bringing a new product from Germany called Studliner—a polyethylene liner for lining concrete. It has studs and embeds in the concrete and the product is mainly sold to precast companies and contractors.
Lewis was wanting to break into the wastewater business, and he started selling the Studliner to the wastewater industry. He indicated that they have lined several massive wastewater treatment plant jobs. Lewis is the leading authority in the United States in using polyethylene embedment liners and is often hired as a consultant to show contractors how to install it. He is also a certified instructor for welding the plastics.
This business led into their manhole cover business. They were lining manholes with some of their products and picked up a French company and began importing French manholes—and at the time they were doing really well with this niche market. It was 2008, and the recession hit, and the market for manholes dried up. They ended up with two warehouses of the French manholes that were not moving.
"That was the downside of our business, and we spent years recovering from that," indicated Lewis. "The good part of that was, we went out looking for an alternative and I ended up in Florida at WEFTEC, the biggest waster wastewater shows in the United States."
Lewis was looking for an alternative to French manholes covers that they could sell. He came across a booth where they had a manhole cover and frames made out of composite material that is twice as strong as cast iron. Lewis and Jeane'e began distributing the unique manhole covers, selling more than 70% of the manholes covers that are manufactured. Their biggest clients are larger municipalities.
The composite manholes covers also exceed the load requirements, both in the United States standards and the European standards. They eliminate corrosion and the covers are only 24 to 70 pounds in weight—which eliminates work-related injuries such as back strains, and broken toes and fingers.
"The number one cause of injuries is opening a manhole, and that is because they are heavy, and they rust and get corrosion welding in them."
Lewis designed the Titus® TwistLIFT® locking system the to secure the manhole covers, the bolt is constructed of aerospace steel. When they first started distributing the composite manhole covers, they used 3/16 stainless steel. It was corrosion resistant, but not very strong. He partnered with Outback Manufacturing Inc. in Bend to develop a bolt that would be strong enough.
"They introduced me to 17-4PH which is an aerospace stainless steel. Its is 2.5 times stronger than 3/16 stainless steel, explained Lewis.
He added that they machine it, then send it off to have it hardened, and it turns it bronze. Lewis said he can tell his old bolts from his new patented bolts by their color, since the new one is a bronze color from the hardening process. The bolt has a vertical and horizontal slot—or a "J" slot. The handle locks onto the blot head, and the user can unlock it and pick the cover up with one hand.
Lewis and Jeane'e have a patent on a floating aerator and pre-treatment system for wet wells and sewage pump stations. They have an aerator for both lagoons and larger municipalities. These products include the Twister® Mixing Aerator, Twister® FL Floating Aerator and Ozone Enhanced Systems.
According to their website, "TITUS® Twisters® are designed to address common wastewater issues including F.O.G. (fats, oils, grease), odor, corrosion and blockages with effective aeration and mixing. Common applications include sewage pump stations, lift stations, wet wells, municipal, industrial and commercial."
When they were living in Bend, they needed a bigger facility and Bend was getting too big for them. They were running their business out of their house. Nine years ago, they discovered the old Flegel Trucking building, which had been vacant for several years. They have been at their Prineville location for nine years.
"We just fell in love with this place. It is our house, we live here. We got a nice shop and a really nice building," said Lewis of their house and property off of Northwest Gardner Road.
Jeane'e commented that they also have ample office and storage space. The Titus compound has approximately four-and-a-half acres of ground, which is also utilized by their business.
Currently, Titus Industrial Group has 13 distributers in the United States that sell for them.
Titus Industrial Group, Inc.
Prineville/West Coast Headquarters and manufacturing facility
Lewis Titus, vice president
Jeane'e Titus, president
1450 NW Gardner Road
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