When Ryan Sachetti first started working as a project engineer at Industrial Air Flow Dynamics (IAFD), he was the definition of a novice. Although he studied mechanical engineering at University of Connecticut, he had only one year of work experience before joining IAFD. The company, which had been founded in 2001, was still small and primarily focused on making and installing expansion joints for New England-based power plants. But the moment he set foot inside one of the power plants that IAFD serviced, Sachetti knew this was the industry that would become his career.
“At the time, I had no industry experience,” says Sachetti, “but I knew the opportunity was exciting. The third day after I had started at the company, I found myself outside of a power plant on a job. Power plants are massive, complex structures, and as an engineer, I realized this was a playground that I wanted to play in.”
Now, 14 years later, Sachetti serves as the president, chief executive officer and owner of IAFD, one of the leading providers of replacement expansion joints, pipe penetration seals and replacement heat recovery steam generator systems. During Sachetti’s tenure, he helped expand IAFD’s client base nationwide and has grown the team to 275 people. He was originally supposed to work at a desk as a project engineer, but, after that first visit to the power plant, he discovered a talent for communication that would propel him and IAFD to much greater success.
In Sachetti’s first week, he and the IAFD team were working on a large expansion joint replacement project. The IAFD service manager was attempting to get parts installed to fix certain problems, but the plant manager wasn’t understanding the how or why.
“I just remember the IAFD service manager and the plant manager talking on two different wavelengths,” Sachetti remembers.
That’s when he decided to step in, even though it was only his fifth day on the job. “I showed them a 3D SolidWorks model of the entire unit I designed on my computer, and I said this is where the problem is, this is what we need to do to fix it, and this is what we're going to do,” shares Sachetti. “I explained the project and process in a way that both understood. I saw the power of connecting the two, taking the project engineering from inside the office to an on-site application.”
That moment was a real eye-opener for Sachetti. He realized that not only was there an opportunity to bring an engineering-oriented approach to problem solving for power plants, but that he had a gift for leading and fostering teamwork within IAFD.
“I developed these relationships with our field service managers and teams,” Sachetti shares. “They understood my passion. I viewed my mission as connecting complicated designs with user-friendly installations. Oftentimes in the industry, you will see friction between field services workers and engineers, but not at IAFD. I'm very proud about that bridge that we've got between our field service staff and our engineering department. We like to engineer something that can be put in and will be successful.”
Mark Koshnick, senior vice president of commercial banking at East West Bank, adds that this relationship-first mindset is one of the keys to IAFD’s success.
“The difference maker, in my opinion, is Ryan’s focus on customer service by delivering a level of timeliness, dependability and professionalism that power plant managers don’t see often and learn very quickly to appreciate,” Koshnick explains. “Power plant management and operators are on site many hours as 24/7 essential businesses—it’s their home away from home. As Ryan emphasizes, you’ll be invited back if you treat everyone within their homes with respect and provide excellent workmanship beyond their expectations.”
“Our reputation is critical for us, and the idea of taking on a job we're not able to service—that's something that we would never do,” IAFD Chief Strategy Officer Sam Brewer emphasizes. “We spend a lot of time thinking about our operations and the fulfillment of all those jobs, so that we can do everything up to the quality and the standards that we set.”
IAFD’s engineering-focused approach is the foundation for all their products and services. IAFD provides a full-service experience for their clients, from designing and manufacturing components, to delivery and installation, as well as providing engineering services and plant evaluations.
“That's one of the values that we bring to our customers,” Brewer says. “There's thought behind what we're offering them: the product, the design of it—it's all done with an engineering mindset that is the foundation of our business.”
With IAFD poised for such growth, Sachetti and Brewer knew they needed to take the next steps to ensure that they didn’t lose momentum.
“We obviously have the right combination of engineering and responsiveness that works for our customers, and we know that there's an expectation from our customers that we're going to perform to a certain level,” says Brewer. “We need to do our part, which is invest in our business, and then let our customers do their part, which is trust in us that we will get the job done.”
One of the largest steps taken involved Sachetti buying out other shareholders. “It was a significant decision to make and definitely a milestone for IAFD,” Sachetti explains. “Because this was such a big event, we spent a lot of time thinking about who would be the right financing partner for IAFD, and it was clear East West Bank was at the top of the list.”
Sachetti’s clear vision is what convinced Koshnick that IAFD would be the right partner for East West Bank. With a term debt loan from East West Bank, Sachetti was able to take a majority stake in IAFD and continue leading the company into its next phase of growth.
Koshnick believed in Sachetti’s business ethics from the get-go. “Ryan found a way to have a better product. And you would think, well, if you have a better product, there's less opportunities for that product to break, and we won't be out there in a couple years,” he explains. “That wasn't their mindset. Their mindset was to build a quality product, prove that to their customers, and find ways that they can be involved with more areas of the repair and maintenance of those plants. They showed a great level of service in one niche area, and by doing such a good job, they'll be able to expand out the level of services that they provide for these power plants.”
“East West Bank was instrumental in helping us,” says Brewer. “As we're growing, there's always challenges that come with that growth, and one of them is having access to capital and a bank that understands your business. We are excited to have East West Bank as a partner and to continue our growth trajectory into the future.”