In Memoriam: Floratech Industries’ Founder, James B. Kelly
Air Innovations announces the passing of Floratech Industries’ founder, James (Jim) B. Kelly. Kelly died in Florida on May 10, 2012 at the age of 69.
Kelly received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Detroit and held senior engineering roles at Carrier in Syracuse, NY, before starting Trans Refrigeration International in 1979 and Floratech Industries in 1986.
“Floratech builds refrigerated floral coolers for supermarkets using advanced air conditioning technology that keeps flowers fresher longer in a uniquely styled, open display,” said Larry Wetzel, chairman, Air Innovations. Previously, the industry put flowers behind glass door cabinets that prevented customers from easy shopping access, and in fact, caused ethylene gas to build up, which made the flowers wilt and drop, Wetzel explained.
Kelly also was instrumental in designing the first AdvancAir® environmental control units for Clean Room Technology, a company that Wetzel started in 1983. “This allowed Clean Room Technology to focus on the design and building of the actual cleanrooms, primarily for the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries,” Wetzel said.
In 1996, Floratech was purchased by Larry and Mike Wetzel. In 1998 the Wetzels began introducing air conditioning products for the cleanroom and indoor air quality markets. In 1999 Floratech formed the subsidiary Cleanroom Systems, Inc. The name change to Air Innovations occurred in 2001 to better reflect the company’s product portfolio and diverse industries served.
Upon moving to Florida, Kelly continued to be active in his engineering consulting business and developing courses for Titan Continuing Education.
“On behalf of the employees of Air Innovations, we send our condolences to Jim’s wife of 47 years, Janie, their three children and eight grandchildren, and Jim’s brother.” Wetzel said.
From the Air Innovations archives, 1996: Jim Kelly (left), celebrating the purchase of Floratech Industries by Mike Wetzel (center) and Larry Wetzel (right).