The first 18 years of Larry Wetzel’s career were spent in the construction industry. Starting as a junior engineer, he rose to become president of a division. In 1983, he founded Clean Room Technology, Inc. and rapidly built it into an international business with sales in excess of $20 million. The $650,000 of initial start-up capital was leveraged into a market value in excess of $8 million dollars when the company merged with the French company, Clestra, in 1989.
Wetzel spent the next several years as chairman of Clestra’s worldwide cleanroom operations with sales in excess of $40 million. In 1994, while serving as a consultant to Clestra, Wetzel co-founded Exponential Business Development Company to invest in and assist start-up entrepreneurial companies in Upstate New York. Exponential raised over $5 million in capital with Wetzel serving as a general partner until 2002 when the business was acquired by Newtek Capital, Inc.
Early in 1996, Wetzel and his son, Michael, acquired controlling interest in Floratech Industries, Inc. In 1998, Floratech introduced an innovative new air conditioning product, HEPAir, for the cleanroom and indoor air quality market. In 1999, Floratech, through its newly formed subsidiary, Cleanroom Systems, Inc., acquired the cleanroom air conditioning manufacturing division back from Clestra.
In 2001, the parent company changed its name to Air Innovations, Inc. to better reflect its mission. Sales, profits and employment have increased ten-fold in this time. Larry Wetzel continues to serve as chairman and Michael Wetzel serves as president and CEO.
In 2011, Wetzel was honored by the HVAC-R and manufacturing industries with two significant awards: Heating, Piping and Air Conditioning magazine’s “Engineer of the Year” and the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York award for manufacturing excellence.
Wetzel holds degrees in mathematics and engineering from Penn State University and St. Vincent College and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He is a holder of eight U.S. patents. Currently, Wetzel is principal investigator on several HEPAiRx ventilating air purifier research studies and is actively involved in the product’s commercial launch.
Wetzel is a frequent lecturer, has published several professional articles, and sits on the boards of several companies in the region. He is active in many philanthropic and business organizations in the Central New York community. Wetzel is a founding board member of the New York Indoor Environmental Quality Center, Inc., which subsequently became the Syracuse Center of Excellence.