BBQ Guru in the News
2011 Distinguished Alums To Be Recognized At Homecoming
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the Sam Houston State University can bestow upon alumni. This honor is for alumni who have distinguished themselves through personal and professional achievements and who have made significant contributions to SHSU and/or society, and thus have brought honor and distinction to our university. Fred is in the company of legendary Texas-born journalist and distinguished Sam Houston State University alumnus Dan Rather, in receiving this award. A black tie gala will be held October 14 at the University during which the awards will be presented to the honored group of 5 alumnus. Since Fred is unable to attend in Texas, we will enjoy our own celebration in Warminster to honor him.
Fred Pirkle grew up in the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio. After graduating from Harlandale High School in 1964, he moved to Dallas where he worked for Van Winkle Motor Company as a mechanic’s helper while receiving training to become a General Motors Guardian Maintenance Service Craftsman. After working two years in Dallas, he returned to San Antonio and attended San Antonio Junior College.
In the summer of 1967, Fred enrolled at Sam Houston State University, declaring a major in industrial arts. He worked during the summer months for H. B. Zachry Construction Company in San Antonio to fund his educational expenses. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1970 and went on to earn his Master of Arts in industrial technology with a minor in marketing in 1974.
Pirkle taught in the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District for a while in Houston, and then left to work as a sales engineer for Commercial Industries Division and later Eggelhof, Inc. While employed by Eggelhof, Inc., he was assigned to Ogontz Controls in Philadelphia, Pa. Pennsylvania became home as he met and married Linda Pirkle, who had two daughters of her own. Their family grew with the addition of two sons – Fred Pirkle Jr. and James Pirkle.
Realizing the future in energy conservation, Pirkle left Ogontz Controls and founded Therm-Omega-Tech Inc. in 1982, to manufacture valves of his own patented design. The company grew to be a leader in the field of manufacturing temperature control valves and devices, gaining worldwide respect across diverse industries. Therm-Omega-Tech freeze protection valves have become the railroad industry’s standard for preventing freeze damage to diesel locomotives, annually protecting billions of dollars of railroad equipment worldwide.
Since then, he has patented more than 20 products, including the BBQ Guru, the first temperature control device for charcoal grills and cookers. Pirkle’s patented products are manufactured in the Therm-Omega-Tech facility in Warminster, PA. Pirkle resides in Warminster and continues to design and experiment with prototype products. He remains an inspiration and source of information to colleagues in the manufacturing industry.