Dave Berchowitz of Global Cooling
Athens-based Global Cooling
has remained consistently innovative since the firm was first created in 1995. Just a few years ago, Global Cooling reinvented itself as a manufacturing company, and founder Dave Berchowitz says this refocused company feels like “as much of a startup as the original spinoff.”
Global Cooling's portable, ultra low temperature freezers are designed to meet the requirements for research, clinical and industrial applications. These high performance medical freezers are quiet and easy to use, and can reach temperatures below -86° C / -121° F. They also incorporate green technology that uses no oil and offers exceptionally low energy consumption and long product life.
When asked about support that Global Cooling has received from the State of Ohio, Berchowitz cites the Third Frontier program and local initiatives. Yet he also says obtaining operating capital in the early stages of a company’s growth remains a significant hurdle for many businesses, and implores the state’s leaders to find a meaningful solution that will help startup businesses to accelerate more quickly.
When and why did you start your business?
I started Global Cooling in Athens, Ohio in 1995 by spinning off cooling technology from Sunpower Inc., the company where I worked at the time. Global Cooling remained a technology development company, though we dabbled in manufacturing, until 2008. That was the year we decided to reinvent ourselves as a manufacturing company. I feel that the “new” Global Cooling Inc. is as much of a start-up as the original spinoff.
Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before that?
In 1995, not really. However, I felt strongly about doing certain things under my own fiscal responsibility. The move to manufacturing in 2008 was a far bigger entrepreneurial step for me and by then my mind was clear regarding three things. The first was to have full responsibility for our own individual proeprty (rather than licensing, as we had done in the past). Second, I wanted to create interesting jobs in my community; and third, I wanted to provide investment opportunities.
Where did you find your first employee? In what position?
In 1995, I offered my technician at Sunpower equal ownership if he joined me. Then, with the reinvention of Global Cooling in 2008, I offered Neill Lane, former CEO at Sunpower Inc., the job as CEO of Global Cooling.
What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We won a Third Frontier grant of about $1million, which has been a huge help. TechGROWTH Ohio provided initial funds and resources to study various opportunities. The organization was also instrumental in pointing us in the right direction and focusing us on a practical, realistic proposition. Other local resources that have been of great value are the people in this community and their encouragement. This includes William Beale, who hired me to work at Sunpower in 1981, and Dr. Robert Redlich who still provides technical insight and support for extraordinary difficult problems.
What’s the most difficult thing about running your own business?
Obtaining sufficient operating capital has been a difficult challenge. Companies that are trying to do what we’re trying to do need a lot of capital and run losses throughout the product development period. Once sales start, it would be an enormous help if inventory and accounts receivable could be collateralized for operating capital. This cannot be done unless a company is profitable. So, operating capital comes from equity financing and that doesn’t feel right. If the State of Ohio could ever find its way to supporting this critical stage of business development for start-ups, it would result in great returns.
What’s the best thing?
The best thing is the sense of purpose. Knowing that you’re providing something that others will find useful enough to pay for.
What has contributed most to your growth?
We have a unique technology and our employees want to help bring it to the market by building quality products, selling with integrity, marketing without spin and developing new products that will contribute to sustainably storing precious biological materials.
What companies or founders do you admire and why?
I admire the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison and other famous Ohio inventors. I also admire originality, in most any form. I admire reliable and well-made products. Apple’s products would be good examples.
Writer: Mona Bronson-Fuqua