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Located just a few miles from the heart of downtown Columbia sits the main office and plant for Thermal Engineering Corporation, also known as TEC. Founded in the 1960s, by William “Bill” Best, TEC has been pushing the boundaries of infrared heating technologies ever since. From industrial paint and curing systems, to TEC heaters, and an innovative line of residential infrared grills, Bill has created long lasting products for decades using the technologies from his collection of over 120 granted patents.
It was at the age of 22 that Bill began to develop his passion for research and development, when he worked to improve the air-to-air refueling system utilized by the United States Air Force. He then went on to earn an engineering degree from the University of South Carolina and later completed his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering with a focus on heat transfer and thermal dynamics through a co-op program offered by his employer, aerospace manufacturer Pratt and Whitney. It was his time working on guidance rockets for Pratt and Whitney that lead him to conceptualize the idea for an infrared burner that could be used as an energy efficient industrial space heater, and before long, that burner became his very first patented design.
Several years later, Bill had the idea to place one of those patented burners into a grill for his own personal use. After constructing the grill in his laboratory, which took him less than a day to build from scratch, Bill found that the resulting product produced food that was juicy, tender, and packed with flavor.
What started as a simple experiment, soon became an entirely new business venture for the team at TEC. Their first TEC grill was officially sold in 1978, and since then it has been long loved by experienced grillers and beginners alike. Because of the unique infrared technology, customers can expect their grill to reach maximum searing temperatures in as little as 10-15 minutes, plus enjoy minimal flare ups, no hot or cold spots, and a noticeable difference in moisture retention when compared to traditional gas grills.
Bill’s wife Rachael Best is an essential part of TEC and actively oversees the day-to-day operations at the plant. Every TEC grill is built by hand and assembled right here in Columbia. Rachael and Bill work together to constantly innovate and improve their current line of grills and accessories. The pair are currently in the final design and testing phase of their newest residential grill, which they are affectionately naming the “Columbia” after the beloved birthplace of Thermal Engineering Corporation.
To learn more about TEC grills and the benefits of infrared grilling visit www.tecgrills.com