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  • Pete McGrath

Lucky: A Week in My Life as an MSC Technical Salesperson

Lou Gehrig at his farewell speech in the old Yankee Stadium (with echo) said, “today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Though I’m alive and well, and certainly can’t compare myself with a legend like Lou Gehrig, I do consider myself very fortunate to get to see behind the scenes in so many different industries and to work with the very-talented people who support them.

In my everyday life at MSC, I get to see how soap, shampoo and hand sanitizer are made, how blood products are processed and packaged, and how a 100°F industrial freeze drier turns short-life liquid injectable drugs into a powdered drug in order to increase their shelf life by years, helping everyday people in their everyday lives. To be part of the design and construction of environmental chambers for in-house “field testing” of roofing shingles to determine at what point they shatter when subjected to below-freezing temperatures. To have the continuing good fortune to work with a talented, hand-picked team that collectively understands how all of this works and how to actually control it from a DDC/web perspective.

Occasionally, I’ll have an exceptional run of particularly-interesting projects, and last week was one of them. I began the week standing on a commercial rooftop in Jersey City, just a few hundred yards from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, followed by a visit to a hospital morgue in Elizabeth to take measurements, noting lighting wattage and a body count for our refrigeration calculation, and a tour of a facility that tests catalytic converters – all on the same day.


Midweek, I put on booties in a gowning station to enter a tower room, a glassed-in, 70-ft. high indoor space with two optical fiber draw towers resembling the huge vertical gantries that flank NASA spacecraft. We climbed ships ladders to elevated platforms where we considered options for the glycol feed station, and there I was able to observe how special optical glass is meticulously drawn down sixty feet to create fibers the thickness of a human hair, like a futuristic spinning wheel. We also kicked off a project in a high-tech optical lens polishing lab that includes custom design/build Honeywell DDC controls to address the tight room specs.


To cap off the week, we received a P.O. for a design/build custom ductwork job for a K-9 kennel ventilation system, complete with GPS needlepoint ionization (NPBI) air purifiers to control airborne particulates and kill pathogens including Covid-19, and we closed the sale of a pair of explosion-proof exhaust systems to a forward-thinking client that just added two alcohol hand sanitizer lines to their production facility.


I always have to smile inwardly when someone that doesn’t know MSC says to me, “so you folks do HVAC, right?”, because what we do for our clients is so much more than that. Whether it’s keeping highly-trained German Shepherds cool, replacing a water-cooled condenser on an industrial 100°F freeze dryer, or asking a city hospital for their specification as to how many bodies can be in the morgue at one time, we to get to see it all.

And that is why, after 31 years at MSC, I still consider myself to be lucky.

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