1. Business

Manufacturer owned by Berkshire Hathaway moving headquarters to Tampa

Published Sep. 27, 2012

Chalk up a win in Tampa Bay's ongoing campaign to lure higher-paying manufacturing jobs.

Heat Pipe Technology, a maker of dehumidifier heat pipes, said Thursday that it is moving its headquarters and an expanded manufacturing and testing facility from Gainesville to Tampa.

The company, which goes by the name HPT, plans to initially relocate 15 employees and hire up to 15 more upon arrival. Within five years, it envisions growing to about 100 employees here.

"We're thrilled," said Rick Homans, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. "This has all the ingredients of the type of high-wage and advanced technology jobs we're trying to bring to Tampa Bay: It's a headquarters operation; it has research and development; it has advanced manufacturing."

Plus, he said, the firm has "blue chip" lineage. HPT is a division of MiTek, part of Warren Buffett's massive Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.

There's one more incentive for Homans' enthusiasm: This time, it didn't take a local-state tax incentive package to lure a headquarters to the bay area. Economic development officials working with the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance and Hillsborough Community College will help the company fill positions, but no tax dollars are involved.

Rather, HPT was attracted here by access to a larger labor pool, proximity to the port and airport, and ample room to grow, said MiTek spokesman Gregg Renner.

Heat Pipe Technology was founded in 1983 with a grant from the Department of Energy to research new uses for heat pipe technology. By applying heat transfer principles to air conditioning systems, researchers increased the removal of moisture up to 50 percent in a big boost to efficiency.

Today, its products are sold worldwide to control air quality and reduce energy costs in buildings for schools, hotels and laboratories. The company's roster of clients has included Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, major hotels, the U.S. military, and numerous universities and schools.

HPT currently operates a 30,000-square-foot production facility in Gainesville's Airport Industrial Park. The new facility will be about 42,000 square feet and allow for manufacturing "retrofit projects," a niche where the company has been growing the fastest.

Renner said the jobs pay higher than median wages but would not reveal specific salary ranges. The company has identified an existing facility near Interstate 4 and Interstate 75, but was not more specific on the location. The relocation is expected to be completed in November.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at (727) 893-8242 or