We spoke with Chase Research Cryogenics’s Director and founder, Dr. Simon T. Chase about the company’s rebrand and the incredible work they do — for some of the biggest names in science.
What can you tell us about Chase Research Cryogenics?
We design and manufacture sub-Kelvin cryocoolers and heat switches for both the scientific and engineering communities. We have long standing customers including NASA and the European Space Agency as well as the world’s leading research institutions including Harvard, Fermilab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Stanford University and more.
How has the company grown?
Up until January 2017 we were a one-man band. Since then we have expanded our in-house team which now includes physicists and engineers working in partnership with local and global business partners.
Many of our first customers were in the United States and still are. We now sell to every continent, with a growing market in Japan, China and South Korea. Our products have even found their way to the Antarctic.
What differentiates your company from others in the industry?
There are long standing and established large companies that do cryogenic equipment, for instance like Air Liquide, Oxford Instruments, BOC as well as a number of companies on the continent and in the States — but none of them do quite what we do, or in the way that we do it.
Most of these companies tend to build fairly large, elaborate systems which cost a huge amount of money. We build smaller, simpler systems that cost slightly less, are much easier to run and are more self-contained and portable. In that respect we do have quite a distinct USP.
Unlike many companies, we spend about 50% of our time and resources on research and development. That’s partly because our customer base is expanding and changing so rapidly. For many years, it was almost entirely the global astronomy community — in particular infrared astronomy, which tends to focus on the early universe and galaxy formation, star formation — topics of that nature.
But of course more recently we’ve been getting more commercial interest from people doing things like single photon detection of quantum key corruption, quantum computing, and so on. There’s a great deal of potential growth in these areas.
Have Chase Research Cryogenics’s digital needs changed over the years?
I launched the company with a very primitive and modest device. My only advertising was one A4 drawing that I placed upon the desk of a colleague, who was quite influential in the field. He knew people who needed cryogenic coolers, and that endorsement got me several jobs. I had a website for a number of years but never advertised. For the first 25 years or so my orders came through word of mouth by the academic astronomical community around the world.
It certainly was not a significant factor for a very long time. The whole of academia tends to be a collection of niches, so a broad advertising brush isn’t very useful, except for very standard components and parts that have become mainstream over the centuries.
We got in touch with Paul from HERRON + CO to revamp our entire corporate image, the website being one of its more visible components. We’re certainly pleased with the job that Paul and his team have done for us. The website is useful in a number of ways including getting contacts and enquiries as well as disseminating knowledge and communicating what we do. Not all of our new customers are familiar with cryogenic practice, so we can create posts or help pages of facts and answers that assist in education. It definitely has more of an impact now than it used to.
What’s ahead for the company?
Our market is bifurcated into two quite distinct sectors. We have the longterm academic customers who, generally speaking, need one-off devices that work as an absolute peak of what can be achieved and are mainly customised to their specific needs and requirements.
Then, we have the commercial customers — a rapidly expanding area — who require reliability and repeatability. For example, we have a customer in Switzerland who buys ten or twenty of a particular type of unit every year, with a growing demand. They want to know what they’re going to get — that reliability aspect — at a good price. But they don’t want a very low temperature. They’re actually working at below one degree kelvin which is minus 272 degrees centigrade. Our academic customers, in comparison, require something twenty times colder than that.
So it’s a very different area to work in and it’s been quite a learning process. That is the area where a website’s visibility, our image and brand do make a difference.
For more information about our work with Chase Research Cryogenics, read the case study
Read about the design process – From Neepsend to NASA
Get in touch with HERRON + CO