Efficient Heating Systems for Quality Plant Production

Interview with Dan Kuipers, Director of Sales

How did BioTherm begin?

In 1980, two young men named Jim Reardon (now CEO) and Mike Muchow (now Vice President) decided they could better run the business where they were working. So, they combined forces and bought the business. Together they developed the first root zone heating systems for commercial horticulture.

How did your technology evolve?

Back then, using hot water to distribute greenhouse heat wasn’t that common. It was a more expensive heating approach and companies who used it were generally very large growers that could afford the initial expense of these systems. The technology involved encasing tubes that carried hot water in a concrete slab floor. The floor would then radiate heat upwards and provide heat directly where the plants needed it — at the roots.

Since root zone heating offers many advantages, BioTherm wanted to make this concept more affordable, and therefore more available to growers of all sizes. So we developed our durable microclimate tubing system, which is placed directly on the floor or bench surface rather than inside a concrete slab. There are immediate benefits — it provides instant heat (no waiting to heat a concret slab) and it’s quicker, easier and less expensive to install. Our systems also provide uniform heating and are a less costly and more efficient way to heat the plants. With the success of our microclimate tubing system, we developed other specialized products for bench applications, snow melting and perimeter heat.

Where do you sell your products?

BioTherm systems are sold primarily across the U.S and Canada, with other projects in South America, Japan and Nepal. While our technology has obvious applications in colder climates, we also sell to growers in warmer climates where having well controlled root zone heat is advantageous to propagators and those growing tropical plants in semi-tropical climates.

How is your technology better?

BioTherm systems are extremely efficient. That means it doesn’t take as much heat to get the same results when compared to traditional forced air systems. It’s not uncommon for our customers to save 25 percent to 35 percent on their fuel bills once they make the switch. Equally as important, our root zone heating systems produce healthier plants. They are less susceptible to disease, they grow faster and you end up with a higher quality plant in less time.

What trends are impacting the company?

The price of fuel and overall heating efficiency are always key factors when a customer is looking at heating costs and ROI. As fuel costs rise, we see a spike in business due to the reduced operational costs associated with our systems. The big trend that is opening new markets and opportunities for us now is the emergence and growth of the cannabis industry, along with more vegetable growers moving inside.

What value do you get from CNGA?

We are a small, 15-person company and it’s difficult for us to stay current on industry happenings across all our market areas. CNGA gives us one spot where we can tap into news and learn about the issues and challenges that growers face in this region. That’s a tremendous value for us. We also appreciate the opportunities that expand our company’s exposure, like this member profile — it’s a great benefit!

476 Primero Court
Cotati, Calif. 94931