The Faces of Entrepreneurship: Tim Warden, Engart Inc.
Issue:Winter 2015 : Articles
Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Executive Magazine/Tracey Toliver
Tim Warden jumped at the chance to own his own business. His company was honored by the SBA in 2013.
Tim Warden, a Beckley native, now does business as far away as Thailand, Australia and South America. He owns Engart Inc., a company that makes dust extraction systems for utilities,mining companies and a variety of other industries.
Warden was working for the Beckley-based company in 2003 when its owners decided to sell. Being in business for himself was something he had always wanted to do. “When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it,” he said. “I could see some opportunity down the road. I felt like we had a niche product that we could make successful.”
Engart dust management systems use energy generated by a fan to encapsulate fugitive dust particles in atomized water. The company has set itself apart from its competitors by making its collection units more compact and more efficient than others on the market. The company manufactures the units in Bluefield and employs about 20 people.
Initially, Engart targeted only the mining industry but after Warden purchased the company, engineers redesigned the equipment so it could serve other industries.
“Our device had the advantages of being safer, simpler and lower cost. We redesigned the equipment and kept the concept the same, and started working other markets.”
The first non-mining customer was American Electric Power, which was willing to make an investment in the technology. Eventually, the systems were installed in several AEP facilities, including Mountaineer Plant in New Haven and the John Amos Power Plant in Winfield. In the early years, the company was not heavily capitalized so managing the growth of the company was a critical concern for Warden.
“We had to grow a little bit at a time. We let our customers pave the way for us, and we worked closely with them to get into new markets and new parts of the country.”
Engart now services numerous industries and sells units throughout the United States and around the globe. The company was named the 2013 West Virginia Small Business Exporter of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Targeting overseas markets does present some difficulties, however.
“The cultures are different from one country to another, so it does have challenges especially with the first order or two. But we have good rapport with local people we work with, and that’s helped us.”
Warden’s advice to others who went to become entrepreneurs?
“Do your homework,” Warden said. “You’ve got to come up with a product that works, but you also have to find the markets. Then you have to take the risks. Even today, we take risks all the time, developing new markets or branching out into new countries. If you know your product well, and you understand what it can do and its limitations, you can make better decisions.”