A family health crisis never comes at a good time, but there could hardly have been a worse time for David W. Crozier and his wife, Helene Kneier Crozier.

The Croziers had invested their savings in a 75-year-old Windsor-based business, Pyrometer Instrument Company, which manufactures precision temperature measurement instruments. The firm was struggling. “It was basically bankrupt,” says David Crozier.

A year after the purchase, in September, 2004, Crozier was in the process of moving the eight-person operation from Northvale, in North Jersey, to Windsor Industrial Park, closer to his Yardley home, when the terrible news came. One of their five children had been born with spina bifida, a malformation of the spinal cord, and now she had an additional problem; her kidneys were failing. Two days after Christmas, when the surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) tried to get 14-year-old Allison ready for dialysis, they discovered that dialysis would not work for her. “They came out of the operating room and said we had 90 days to find a kidney,” says Crozier.

Kidneys are in short supply. In New Jersey, for instance, more than 2,500 people are on the waiting list.

So Crozier, then age 46, stepped forward to be the donor, and the transplant took place in February, 2005. For the next three months he had to stay home, at first barely able to move and then not able to drive. “The employees kept the business going; they stepped up and helped us out,” says Crozier. “We have a great workforce.”

Crozier has an up-beat, can-do attitude as he tells how the family made an adventure out of countless trips from Yardley to the hospital in Philadelphia. And about how his daughter refuses to get a handicapped sticker for the family car, choosing to walk rather than be considered disabled. And about how the recovery was even more stressful for the family than anyone expected.

Transferring his management skills — he knows how to nudge a project across a bureaucratic minefield — Crozier had checked and rechecked to be certain everything happened on schedule.

Similarly, his personal optimism carried over to his work life. Whiners are not welcome at Pyrometer, and Crozier weeded out the naysayers with the move from Bergen County. “Mercer County is much more conducive to doing business,” says Crozier. “In my opinion it has a more reasonable workforce. Here, we are not competing with New York prices and New York attitudes. Some of the people moved seamlessly, and some of the people we were forced to replace — but some we didn’t encourage to move.”

The Crozier family is “quite amazing,” says Bernard Kaplan, director of nephrology at CHOP. “Allison is an extremely brave and really strong young person, with a very embracing, supportive family — the father, the mother, the siblings, and Mrs. Crozier’s parents. The Croziers were completely removed from their roots, and not only did they have to deal with their new business, but Mr. Crozier would have to take off from work. Not for one moment was there any hesitation or thought that he wouldn’t do this. He was absolutely determined.”

“I think God trusted us with Allison,” says Crozier, who faithfully attends St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church in Yardley. “I won’t say there haven’t been times I questioned my faith, but there have not been any hard decisions. The decisions just came naturally.”

“And we have met good people, like Dr. Kaplan and the others at Children’s, who have made it very easy.”

To balance business and surgery was a parent’s nightmare. Preparing for any surgery requires extensive testing, and in this case — because the Croziers wanted both parents to be donor ready — each test had to be done on the daughter, the father, and the mother. Preparation for transplant surgery is particularly exacting. “It is the only medical procedure where the doctors are making you worse,” says Crozier.

The trio ran the gauntlet of a dizzying number of blood tests, urine tests, and even psychological tests, so that social workers and psychologists could probe their mental readiness. To leave absolutely no chance for zero-hour surprises, each of the blood and urine tests had to be repeated three times, including the logistically onerous creatinine measurement that requires collecting every drop of urine over a 24-hour period.

The schedule allowed no room for mistakes. “We knew when the deliverable had to be,” says Crozier. “Yet we were supposed to wait until the insurance approved each step. We decided not to wait. We went ahead with the timetable of what needed to occur when.” Crozier sat down with Kaplan to draw up the plan.

Kaplan is a graduate of medical school in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his Lithuanian-born parents owned a retail store. Working at McGill in Montreal in 1974, Kaplan had supervised the first case in which pediatricians managed to beat the clock by transplanting a kidney before the patient had to have dialysis. He started CHOP’s kidney transplant center in 1992. Now the center does from 15 to 30 transplants a year, sourcing more than half of the kidneys from friends and family members, the rest from deceased people.

“Dr. Kaplan has done phenomenal things,” says Crozier. “He saved Allison’s life. He treated her like she was his own granddaughter. He was unbending in making sure she had the best care possible.”

“Mr. Crozier called and E-mailed me to make sure things moved as quickly as possible,” says Kaplan, who worked with coordinators Joann Palmer and Sonya Lopez on the arrangements for the simultaneous operations on father and daughter. “He was respectful — but insistent — a real gentleman.”

Despite the planning there were mishaps. Crozier sometimes had to attend meetings carrying a five-quart bottle of bodily fluids for his creatinine test. He inadvertently drank a glass of wine the night before the first of three blood tests, not realizing that imbibing would seriously skew the test. Although subsequent blood tests came out well, his initial error might have delayed the surgery. (In retrospect Crozier thinks a donor support group — perhaps an online one — could have helped his learning curve.)

Meanwhile Crozier tried to tend his business. On his wife’s side, the Kneiers had founded a chemical company, ChemSafe, in Cleveland. On his side, his grandfather had been vice president of engineering at General Motors, and his father was a postal inspector. (The families did not bankroll the purchase of Pyrometer. “My parents and grandparents were very clear their job was to get us raised right,” says Crozier. “They wanted their children to find their own success.”)

The Crozier family can trace its roots to the French Canadian part of Canada. Crozier’s great grandfather, a sea captain, went down with his ship on the Great Lakes. “My grandfather, also a sea captain, heard his father had drowned while talking with the Coast Guard on the radio, and that motivated him to go back to Case Western Reserve to be an engineer,” says Crozier.

Crozier attended the University of Cincinnati on a baseball scholarship, graduating in 1981. A mechanical engineer, he worked in the instrumentation field. The family moved to Yardley when Crozier ran Teledyne’s instrument division. Then for six years he was CEO of a Switzerland-based manufacturer of color control systems.

But he wanted to captain his own ship. In baseball, he had been a catcher, because he likes to call the shots. He put out the word that he was looking to buy a company and Cherry Hill-based investment bankers Everingham and Kerr mailed him information on Pyrometer.

Founded in 1928, Pyrometer had precision temperature measurement technology that spans the gap between what would be considered to be the rust belt and the very latest discoveries. It is the only domestic manufacturer of certain kinds of pyrometers, thermometers that measure high temperatures. Steel companies are its clients, but its products also go into cleanrooms in hard drive manufacturers such as Seagate Technologies in Pittsburgh.

In 1988 the company received a photonics award for an infrared thermometer that could measure “emissivity,” the amount of reflection. “Our ability to measure and automatically adjust for emissivity allows our equipment to measure temperature more accurately than any other firm,” says Crozier.

The latest device, called Pyrofiber, introduced just before Crozier bought the company, allows emissivity and temperature measurement on highly reflective or polished materials. This is important for scientific applications, semiconductor manufacturing, and specialty steels.

The purchase of Pyrometer turned out to be a legal nightmare, because the owner also had two other companies that were inextricably intertwined. One company leased the building, for instance, and another company leased the vehicle. “Finally my father-in-law sat down with me and said, “Why don’t we just take the whole thing.”

So in March, 2003, Crozier and his wife, became the proud owners of the three companies, with Makke LLC as the umbrella name that incorporates the first initials of their five children. The oldest, Katelyn, will start Case Western Reserve this fall. Allison’s twin brother, Matt, is a basketball star at Conwell Egan in Fairless Hills. Twins Kevin and Emily are eight years old.

At the time of the purchase, Pyrometer engineers had not yet made a prototype of the $20,000 Pyrofiber device. Crozier put a marketing plan in place, targeted R&D facilities, and focused on customer service. The other two companies were also floundering: Automated Measurement & Control Corp. and American Teratec Inc. The same eight employees serve all three firms.

Crozier and his wife run the companies, but they needed operations managers and some replacement personnel. “Each departing employee was hard to replace,” says Crozier, in the perennial plaint of the entrepreneur. “One hole in a small company is huge.” Judd Parrish handles the operations of Pyrometer, and Crozier solved the leadership problem at the other two firms by recruiting Jeff Wootten from the United Kingdom. “One of the service guys knew him, and that he wanted to move to America. Now that company does four times the business,” says Crozier.

Crozier looked for cost effective Class C space, and he chose Windsor Industrial Park over Princeton Service Center or Research Park, in part because it had better growth opportunities. “If we need to expand, the room is here. It is also closer to where the other workers live.” Bill Barish of Commercial Property Network found the space, and Yardville National Bank provided the funding. The accountant is Bruce Ludlow of Klatzkin & Company.

Crozier had told all the workers that the company would be moving within three years. But when he was donating his kidney, everyone was still two hours away in Northvale. And they were on their own from the second week of February, 2005, through the first of May.

Last February Crozier made the move, exactly one year after the transplant. All the companies are doing well. “Now they are profitable as a group,” says Crozier.

The memory of the operation itself is fading. “The night before,” says Crozier, “Allison came into my room and said, ‘If you don’t want to do this I’ll understand.’ That was the only time I thought about it.”

Crozier had gone through the required counseling before he went under the knife. Though he says his decision was easy, not everyone feels that way. “We don’t want potential donors to feel guilty if they don’t donate a kidney,” says Kaplan. “But we tell them we would never take a kidney if we have any concern about the future health of that person.”

Crozier, who likes to make self deprecating jokes, explains why it was he, rather than his wife, who donated. “I thought, if my wife does it, then I get to take care of my wife who will be sick, as well as taking care of all the children. So the decision was easy. Then I tried to get the surgeons to fix some of the problems of aging while they were in there, to do liposuction, but they didn’t enjoy that humor.”

To remove his right kidney required a long, conventional incision that would take three months to heal. Shortly after the operation, when his wife was at Allison’s bedside, and his wife’s parents had flown in from Cleveland to take care of the rest of the family, his mother-in-law passed out. It was discovered that she had lung cancer and needed to go home immediately. “So I had to take care of the kids anyway,” says Crozier, noting the irony. His discharge date was moved up and he went home three days after the surgery.

Everybody pitched in, says Crozier, downplaying the difficulties but admitting, “I could barely move.” The children got themselves to school and the neighbors brought dinners. While Crozier was recuperating he liked watching inspirational movies such as the 1993 “Rudy,” about the Notre Dame football player who gave his whole heart to the team.

Allison’s reaction to one of the drugs sent her back to the hospital twice. “Her whole body was like one open wound, with white ulcer-type sores everywhere. It was very scary for us. She and her mother were really quite amazing; she dealt with everything really well,” says Crozier. For one of Allison’s return trips her mother was away, in Cleveland, with her own mother.

“The amazing thing was how Allison changed dramatically after the transplant,” says her doctor, Kaplan. Before, Allison swam and played golf, participated in Special Olympics and had a good group of friends at Pennsbury. “But afterward she became so much happier and more comfortable with everybody. She just felt better. she even began to smile when I made jokes. Before the transplant she said she didn’t really like my sense of humor.”

Kaplan marvels at what the Crozier family endured. “They have been absolutely amazing in their willingness to take part in this,” he says, “and wanting to let us talk about it is wonderful too.”

Two medical students from the University of Pennsylvania were assigned to follow Allison for several years, going to every doctor appointment with her. “The idea is for the patient to teach the students how to be doctors. The students absolutely adore the family and Allison and are learning a great deal from them,” says Kaplan.

“Allison felt like it was somebody else going through it with her,” says Crozier. “‘When you are a doctor,’ she would say, ‘I hope you remember to tell this.’ Or, ‘They didn’t tell me it would hurt like this.’”

The family also agreed to take part in a National Institutes of Health study for a protocol for immunosupression. She is also among the first to use a new anti-rejection drug, and she is also participating in a study on the effects of the transplant on her skeleton.

The experience encouraged the oldest of the Crozier children to enroll in a nursing program at Case Western. “Her choice was directly related to Allison’s experiences at CHOP,” says Crozier. He and his wife are active in the Organ Donor coalition for life, and Allison and her father have made themselves available for the speakers’ bureau.

Crozier’s reaction: he felt really tired for six months after the February operation. His business was still in Bergen County, and, even when he was allowed to drive, his wife feared he would fall asleep on the road. He worked three days a week for May, often with his wife driving, and returned full time in June.

Also after the operation, he stopped working out regularly. “Between the company and the family there is no time for that,” he says. “Now I chase after the kids and cut the grass. I can live vicariously through the kids. The family comes first.”

Crozier credits much of his business success to his late grandfather. “I was his shadow,” says Crozier. “He got to see me graduate from the University of Cincinnati in 1981.”

In Crozier’s senior year, he and his team had to design a battery-operated remote control car. Grandfather stopped by on his way to Florida to inspect the project.

“Gramps, What do you think?” we asked.

Sitting in his motor home, chewing on a cigar, his comment was, “You can’t shine shit.”

“It was the most humbling moment in our careers. He found everything wrong in 15 minutes, and we redesigned it and won the competition. We forever laugh about it.”

His grandfather’s real legacy was his work ethic. “My wife and I worked hard,” says Crozier. “We are cheap, and we saved money to buy the business. We wanted our daughter to not have to go to the government for help. We want our kids to see you what have to do to succeed.”

Pyrometer Instrument Company Inc., 92 North Main Street, Windsor Industrial Park, Windsor 08561; 609-443-5522; fax, 609-443-5590. David W. Crozier, CEO. www.pyrometer.com

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