Instrument Associates was founded in 1953 by Jack Fregeau with his first warehouse being located on the south side of Chicago. Several moves were made finally settling in Alsip, Illinois due not only to accessibility to major highways, but because Alsip began with “A” and the search engine of the day, was the phone book! In 1940, Jack Fregeau graduated from the Drexel Institute of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. During the war, he worked on the Manhattan Project as a Process Control Engineer. It was that education and love of process controls that prompted him to start Instrument Associates as an Industrial Distributor of valves and controls. For the next 65 years, Instrument Associates has grown into the premier leader in the instrumentation and industrial distribution field, not only supplying products, but services unparalleled to its’ competitors.
Jack Fregeau- Founder
One of IA’s first customers was the Commonwealth Edison Dresden Plant in Morris, Illinois. Dresden’s was the first commercial nuclear power plant in the US, being commissioned in 1960. IA had significant size sales of many different product lines at this plant. IA also continued sales at their 2nd and 3rd units as they were being commissioned in the early 1970’s.
In the 1970’s, Parker Hannifin was looking to find a distributor for their new Instrument CPI Fittings and Valve product line. As the Parker territory manager left the office he saw Instrument Associates across the street. After meeting with Jack Fregeau, IA became the distributor they were looking for.
Our relationship with Velan began in the early 1970’s. Instrument Associates salesmen had been selling steam traps, but IA knew that offering steam trap surveys not only produced revenue but increased the likelihood of Steam Trap Sales. It also gave IA the opportunity to conduct a steam trap survey for the entire Whiting Indiana facility. Hoping to get a small portion of the plant, IA was awarded the whole plant, which meant surveying over 28,000 steam traps.
Instrument Associates received their largest Parker project to date. Parker CPI Fittings and Valves were specified for construction of the Commonwealth Edison Nuclear Plant in Byron, Illinois. Unit 1 was operational in 1985 and Unit 2 in 1987.
A year after IA’s success at Commonwealth Edison Byron, construction on another Nuclear Plant was started in 1976 in Braidwood, Illinois. Due to IA’s hard work at Byron, again Parker CPI Fittings and Valves were specified in the project. Both units were operational in 1988.
Significant orders and training were provided to many of the same, as well as different contractors during the 10+ year construction period of both plants. Both plants generate over 2300 MW of electricity and still use Parker Products as their main supply.
IA received a contract from the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) to convert every radiator steam trap to the Velan Product Line. This project was valued at over $150K and consisted of over 1,000 radiator steam traps. This product was the most efficient on the market and benefited the CHA with “hundreds of thousands” of dollars annually in steam cost savings & many years of trouble free service.
CLIP: CLEANED IN PLACE
Jack Fregeau, Owner & Founder of IA, designed our patented CLIP (cleaned in place) Strainer. CLIP offers a solution to the many problems associated with pump suction strainers. CLIP provides “in-place” cleaning and eliminates dangerous pump cavitation. Our key customer for this unique product has been all the nuclear power plants in Illinois and many more around the United States.
The acquisition of Parker Fulflo Filters increased our product offerings to our Parker Fitting and Valve customers. IA continued partnering with Parker Filtration and other filter manufacturers to be a prominent distributor for filtration products in process, air, hydraulic and coolant applications. Other Parker Filtration Products added through the years have been Finite, Balston, Domnick Hunter, Raycor and Clarcor.
Through the years, we’ve used Ford conversion vans & equipped them with Parker and other IA Products and literature. Training tools were also available for on-site classes. We visited many existing and potential accounts to give them an in-person demonstration of our products instead of just a picture in a catalog.
Parker’s iPower Distribution Group was a team of companies providing an integrated supply solution to customers to reduce costs, number of vendors and improve efficiency. The iPower Team consists of a broad range of industrial supplies including electrical products, safety products, hydraulics, pneumatics, bearings, power transmission parts, pipe, valves, fittings and fasteners.
As a result, IA received a program contract with Inland Steel in East Chicago, Indiana. Results have been “tens of millions” of sales to IA, as well as similar purchase cost savings over the 24 year period. This has been IA’s largest volume, longest running contract in our history and is still active today.
Inland Steel Office Building
An anniversary dinner celebration was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier and was followed by a sight-seeing cruise on a private yacht on Lake Michigan. All current employees & spouses were invited as well as many prior key people who contributed to the 60 years of success. Parker and several other major manufacturers we represented were also on hand to congratulate and celebrate this momentous occasion.
In 2017 and 2018 Instrument Associates receives a $1 million and $0.5 million contract from a leader in the oil and gas industry, respectively.
Our sales associates, John and Ben, worked hard and rightfully earned the Krohne Million Dollar Club Award for achieving $1,000,000 in Krohne Sales.