Josh grew up with several families and in different homes in the greater Detroit area. He graduated from Redford Thurston High School and joined the military at 19 years old.
Josh served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman (0351) and then the Navy as a Machinist’s Mate Nuclear (MMN). Stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, he spent years learning not only mechanical systems engineering, but also a completely new way to think. His perspective broadened and grew through hands-on experience in an environment with real-time consequences.
After he completed his schooling and certification as a nuclear propulsion plant operator and Department of Energy-certified radiation worker, Josh reported to a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine - the USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) - to work in the Machinery Division.
A rare honor
On a cold winter day in Maine, Josh was driving when he spotted a man who looked like he was having car trouble on a bridge. He noticed that the man was on the wrong side of the guard rail and pulled over to help. Unsure of what to do, Josh talked to the man and quickly realized what was happening. He suggested they sit together in his truck with the heat on and talk. The man agreed.
When the firemen arrived, Josh put his arm out the window and discretely motioned for them to approach the truck. He wanted to preserve the man’s dignity and was careful not to let the stranger see him summoning the first responders.
Once the man was safely secured in an ambulance, a fireman on the scene asked Josh for his name and contact information. He assumed it was standard protocol and provided all the information that was asked of him.
Instead, he got the surprise of a lifetime when he learned that the fire department had used that information to inform the Navy that one of their young sailors saved a man’s life that day.
Josh was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal and a full ROTC scholarship to the University of South Carolina. He was one of a handful of people in the world to receive the rare scholarship that year.
While in school at the University of South Carolina, Josh was financially self-supporting. He waited tables and traded his truck in for a motorcycle to make ends meet.
He was riding his motorcycle home from work one day when he was broadsided by a drunk driver. He suffered a severe concussion and shattered his leg, which was held together by a rod and pins. He was wheelchair-bound.
The military pulled his scholarship and de-qualified him from service.
Change of plans
One accident derailed Josh’s career and erased his entire life’s plan.
He spent 30 days in his adoptive parents’ home with a bedpan and a wheelchair. He felt angry, confused, scared, and sorry for himself, believing he had failed. It was his emotional rock-bottom.
But something shifted at the end of that 30 days. Josh realized that he didn’t belong there and that it was time for him to leave. He needed to provide for himself. He informed his adoptive father that it was time to go, packed up his wheelchair, and headed back to South Carolina.
Josh realized that, up to that point, he’d been “taking the world as it came to [him].” He heard no and never a lot and had never really questioned it. This realization was a key moment of clarity in his life.
Josh started to evaluate his choices and mistakes differently, and was no longer willing to accept the world’s constraints. He got a job as a karaoke DJ and started to move on.
Not long into the job, Josh spotted a beautiful young woman across the room, waiting for the bartender to fulfill her table’s order. It’s a night he will never forget. He fell in love.
That woman became his wife. Over 20 years later, Kelly and Josh are happily married and grateful for the journey that got them to where they are today – even the hard parts.
In the end, it's the hard parts that taught Josh to be the hero of his own story.
By any objective standard, Josh’s military career was both impressive and successful. But he bristles at descriptions like that.
Instead, he says, “My life is not defined by a list of successes. I fail; I get knocked down. As I’m moving, growing, and busting down limits - that is where moments of success are found. It’s not a singular event or moment in time.”
Once walking again, Josh decided that it was time to get back on a career path. With a recommendation from his best friend’s dad and a couple of hand tools from his friend Rick, he landed a job as an Outside Machinist at the local shipyard.
After some time at the shipyard, Josh realized that he wanted more. He took a job as an air compressor service technician. “From my time in the Navy - and my time in the shipyard - I knew what the components were, but I had no idea how they worked together to compress air.”
The compressor industry fit Josh well. He worked hard and learned everything he could, rising up to installer, part-time sales, salesman, sales manager, trainer, speaker, and then project manager.
And now, he’s the owner of two successful compressed air businesses: Industrial Compressor Solutions and Tamsan-USA Compressors.
But he didn’t get here alone.
His wife has made it possible for him to pursue his professional dreams at every stage of the journey. Without her partnership, trust, and steadfast support, he reflects, he would not be who he is - or where he is - today.
That support was paramount when Josh ran headfirst into professional experiences that adversely affected him and the people around him. These disappointing experiences were ultimately huge influences on Josh’s decision to go into business for himself:
Working for bosses who promised commission to their sales teams and revoked it arbitrarily (he quit a job in solidarity over one such instance).
Collaborating on jobs with other manufacturers or distributors that ended in business being stolen from him.
Servicing compressors with “custom” parts (reverse oil filter threads, extended shafts and couplings, etc.) that were intentionally designed to lock customers into exclusivity with one brand.
Unfortunately, Josh learned, bait-and-switch tactics are commonplace in the compressed air industry: good for sales, but supremely unfair to customers who become unwittingly beholden to one manufacturer or distributor for the life of their compressor.
These disappointing realities impacted Josh on personal and professional levels and drove him to take a more consumer-focused, innovative approach to serving his industry.
Going beyond the compressor room
Josh spent a considerable amount of time in his early career as a compressed air service technician. A few decades later, he is still a student of compressed air, learning as much as he can, as often as he can.
The thing about compressed air, Josh says, is that to be really good at it, you need to be a student of many trades. “You have to be an electrician. A welder. A pipefitter. A mechanic. A refrigeration technician. A contractor. An engineer. The problems range so far in every direction…there’s no one book that teaches you everything you need to know.”
One of the things Josh loves most about his job is solving complex problems for his customers. He knows the people, the products, and the technology in his industry inside out and can find incredible solutions that would seem impossible to someone with less experience. And that expertise translates to higher efficiency and lower costs for his customers.
According to a Department of Energy report, over 50% of compressed air in plants is wasted - and Josh believes that figure is low. Overpressurization, leaks, and feeding air when it’s not needed are just a few common causes of this costly waste.
His proposed approach to this problem is where Josh breaks from the industry norm.
In the compressor room, you are limited to reacting to the compressed air system. If you want to control the compressed air system itself, Josh believes you need to actually be in the plant.
Instead of just overcoming the problem by buying additional compressors to compensate for wasted air, Josh advocates for controlling, monitoring, and analyzing the compressed air system at the distribution network and process level. In other words: finding and fixing the problem - not just putting an expensive band-aid on it (especially when it doesn’t need a band-aid to begin with).
Here’s what Josh wishes more people knew: efficiency is important right up to the point that it starts to affect reliability. If a compressed air system isn’t reliable, efficiency becomes a moot point.
“We need to control demand efficiently and reliably,” Josh explains. “When you’re regulating and controlling compressed air distribution properly, you can actually keep your backup a backup.”
Josh’s CV is full of accolades and impressive honors.
A NASCLA-certified licensed General Contractor;
A licensed Pressure and Process Piping Mechanical Contractor;
A licensed Commercial Plumber;
A certified Construction Manager; and
A certified Project Manager.
He has also:
Presented at the Compressed Air Best Practices Expo, the AICD, the NAACD, and other industrial shows;
Contracted as a trainer and mentor for inmates who wanted to become air compressor service technicians;
Written and taught seminars;
Spoken at universities;
Been contracted as a trainer and subject matter expert in plants around the US and Caribbean; and
Been featured in Rubber Asia Magazine as a world-leading expert for compressed air utilization in tire retreads.
Josh has been tapped to chair a session at the Compressed Air Best Practices Expo in Atlanta on October 6. Don't miss his unforgettable presentation, “Designing Compressed Air Distribution Like an Electrical Grid”.