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NARSA Member Spotlight

NARSA Member Spotlight

AMERICAN RADWORX

Vinemont, Alabama | NARSA Member Since: 2015

"THE RADIATOR INDUSTRY IS ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING PLACES
YOU CAN REALLY REAP THE REWARDS FROM HARD WORK," SAID KEVIN LEMONS. "IT ISN'T FLASHY AND IT CAN BE DIRTY, BUT HELPING CUSTOMERS AND KNOWING THEY APPRECIATE YOUR EFFORT, THAT IS WHAT KEEPS ME INSPIRED."

     Kevin Lemons, President and owner of American Radworx, was born into the radiator industry. His grandfather Jack Lemons started working in a Huntsville, Alabama radiator shop in 1938 when he was just 14 years old. "The radiator business was the only thing he ever did except for his time in the Army in WWII," said Lemons. "He eventually opened his own radiator shop in Cullman, Alabama in 1952 and Jack's Radiator Service has been in business ever since."


     American Radworx is located in Vinemont, Alabama about halfway between Birmingham and Huntsville. On the distribution side, it offers replacement cooling and emission parts, including radiators, Charge Air Coolers, A/C parts, fans, DPFs, DOCs, and more. On the service side, the business offers cleaning, repair, recore, and replacements for almost any type of heat exchanger. It also offers delivery within a 150 mile radius, shipping to anywhere, and in-house and on-site repair/rebuild service anywhere in the Continental US.


     American Radworx's history spans more than 70 years. Jack Lemons started the company in 1952. Then, David Lemons operated the business from 1976 until 2001 when Kevin took over.

"The work was hard, but I enjoyed it and made a decent living," said Lemons. With the eventual hiring of his brother-in-law Seth Copeland (current manager of Industrial Radiator in Dallas, Texas), who proved to be a quick study, Lemons was able to grow the business. In 2011, Lemons went back to college and received his Bachelor's degree in Enterprise Systems Management from Athens State University in Alabama. He was then offered a job at United Launch Alliance, but ultimately turned it down.

     "After a whole lot of thought and prayer, I decided not to accept and told everyone 'I guess I'm just a radiator man," said Lemons. "I wanted to take this business my grandfather had started and turn it into something bigger."

     To gain sales and distribution experience, Lemons started working at LKQ in 2012 where he met Phillip Wright, now the American Radworx Vice President of Sales. "My career in the radiator industry started in 2011 at LKQ, and it was purely coincidence that I even landed a job there as I had just lost a job as a production manager for another company and needed work fast," said Wright. "I went to a local temp agency and told them to put me wherever they had open, and I could start right away. I didn't care what the work was as long as I had a job."

     With that, Wright started in Heavy Duty sales. He then went from temp worker to supervisor. Then, as he was being trained for warehouse manager, the guys in HD cooling sales saw him as a good fit for their team. "I had to learn fast as some of my coworkers were leaving or thinking about leaving. I quickly gained a lot of knowledge and love for the industry. I was building a career that I never dreamed l'd be in."

     "With Vic McCliment, Mike Sifuentes, and Phillip Wright, we grew the HD cooling program rapidly while Seth handled the day-to-day of the shop," said Lemons. Then in 2015, Lemons bought Fleet Air Technologies, an Aluminum Heat
Exchanger Repair and Rebuild company. A month later, he launched American Radworx as a distribution business and eventually pulled all 3 businesses under the American Radworx LLC umbrella.

     In 2019, Mike Sifuentes joined American Radworx as the Vice President of Operations.

     "My career in the radiator industry actually started in 2009 with the radiator core manufacturer, Heatex," said Sifuentes. "What was supposed to be a temporary job change to help my late brother-in-law set up, open, and operate a satellite warehouse in North Alabama turned into a permanent career change."

     Sifuentes stayed with Heatex until 2013 before joining Dan Payant and Commercial Radiator of Memphis, Tennessee. Commercial Radiator was looking to expand their business into the Nashville market, and Sifuentes was brought in to open a new location now known as Emission & Cooling Solutions. He stayed there until 2019 when he came back home to North Alabama to work as the VP of Operations for American Radworx.

     "It was a natural fit, as I have known Kevin for several years and have worked with him in some capacity since my start with Heatex," said Sifuentes. "This industry quickly drew me in after seeing all the different opportunities within it. There is never a dull moment and I never stop learning. Taking on new challenges is something I live for and there is no shortage of challenges in this industry."

     In just 8 years, American Radworx has grown to include 29 employees. "I have been fortunate to bring on seasoned additions to the team as well as train some talented young people that have all really helped fuel the growth of all three business segments."

     These days, Lemons says he mostly spends time managing inventory and performing HR work while also providing support to sales, service and logistics.
But American Radworx remains a family business. "The fourth generation is already working in the company with my oldest daughter, Emma Lett and my son, Ethan Lemons. Other family members involved in the business include my
son-in-law Jordan Lett. my cousin Patrick Lemons, and my nephew Clay Copeland."

     Lemons was first introduced to NARSA in September 2014 when he attended the Heavy Duty Conference at Radiator Service in Houma, Louisiana. "Seeing David Beinvenu's shop just blew my mind and really started the wheels turning in trying to build this business into something bigger and better. My thoughts on the drive back home are what made the plan to start American Radworx take shape. I have been a NARSA member ever since. I, as well as many of my coworkers have had the privilege of attending several conventions They present a good opportunity to learn and more importantly, the contacts we have made by being involved with NARSA have proven to be vital to our success as a company."

     Over the years, Lemons says many NARSA members have helped his company grow and succeed. "Dan Payant, former owner of Emission & Cooling Solutions, some years ago gave me valuable philosophical advice on business and filled my head full of ideas. Billy Tyrrell from Serck Services has turned into a good friend. He is a man who knows how to get things done.

     Phillip Cochran, his daughter Melissa Mayo, and Chris Culp with CG&J / US
Radiator in Gadsden, Alabama are outstanding people that are among my friends. We appreciate them and the great job they do, particularly of using their manufacturing capabilities to help us with a lot of odd and sometimes difficult service jobs. David Beinvenu has helped us so much with advice on servicing Tube & Shell Bundles and Plate & Frame Heat Exchangers. He is always willing to help with his tremendous knowledge. He is just a great man and an ambassador for NARSA and the industry as a whole. Others include Jimmy Ewing at Motor Mission Machine & Radiator, Randolph Scott of Russell Radiator, the late Vic McCliment, the Late Roy Young and his daughter Tiffany Rogers of Augusta Road Radiator. These are all people who have made a difference."

     Ultimately, Lemons says he knows the right people are needed to make a company succeed. "I would like to give a shout out to the three others who have been here with me at American Radworx since the start," said Lemons.
"My friend and our VP of Sales, Phillip Wright, believed in the idea of American Radworx when it was probably ridiculous to do so, and took a big chance joining the company on Day 1. Also Julie Anders and Daven James who were crazy enough to stick it out after the Fleet Air acquisition. We had some lean times in the early years but we weathered the storm. I am truly grateful for them and for all of my people."

     "We have come a long way since 2015," said Wright. "It's an exciting industry to be a part of, the learning never stops, and I have met some amazing people along the way. I look forward to seeing what the future holds."

     "No two days are ever the same," said Sifuentes. "I love being a part of such a niche industry where you can lean on other professionals within the industry for help on things such as service ideas, sourcing tips, new business opportunities, etc. The radiator industry was never a part of my planned career path, but I've been blessed to go down this road with some great people."

     "As a company, our 'why' is to keep trucks and equipment running," said Lemons. "When we rush an oil cooler recore job that has a plant shut down, or repair a tractor radiator so the farmer can get to his crop, or deliver a truck driver a radiator so he can finish his haul, or rebuild a hospital genset cooling package on-site to secure their backup power. Those things make you realize we are part of something much bigger than just the radiator world. We are doing our part to keep this country running, to help people put food on their table, to get home to their families, and possibly even saving lives. I love this industry because of the place it holds in the big picture, even if most people don't ever realize it."

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