Today’s Boiler: Please provide a little background on your career. 

Mark Colman: I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA in finance. I’ve been in the industry my entire career. I started as an engineering co-op student working for the Clark-Reliance Corp. Clark-Reliance manufactures steam separators and level controls for boilers along with other industrial products. I worked for Clark-Reliance for about 13 years, holding various positions in engineering, sales, and general management. At the 2005 summer American Boiler Manufacturers Association (ABMA) meeting, a mutual friend introduced me to Jack Rentz. Jack is the founder of Rentech Boiler Systems. Shortly after that meeting, I came to work for Rentech. I joined Rentech as the vice president of operations and became the president of Rentech in 2016. 


Today’s Boiler: Please introduce us to Rentech, the company’s products, and markets it serves. 

Colman: Rentech was founded in 1996 and has enjoyed steady growth over the years. Rentech is a manufacturer of water tube boilers. The company manufactures fired packaged water tube boilers along with waste heat water tube and waste heat fire tube boilers. On the waste heat water tube side of the business, one of our specialties is heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs). HRSGs get their heat from the exhaust gases of an aeroderivative gas- or oil-fired turbine. Rentech has great engineering and project execution capabilities. At Rentech, we love projects that are highly engineered with lots of specifications. 

Rentech is located in Abilene, Texas. Our central Texas location allows us to ship very large, fully assembled boilers. When the boilers are too big to ship out of Abilene in one piece, we can complete the build of the boiler at the Port of Houston and ship the completed boiler from the port via water. 

Rentech also has a service group that can repair all makes of boilers. Over the years, Rentech has diversified and moved into many different markets. Rentech’s largest markets are refineries and petrochemical plants. Rentech also supplies boilers into pulp and paper, food processing, ethanol, larger university and hospital campuses, biomass, municipal solid waste, mining, and many other industrial applications. 


Today’s Boiler: Congratulations on being named chairman of ABMA. Please tell us about this achievement, and what it means to you professionally and personally? 

Colman: Becoming the ABMA chair is a great honor to me. I have been attending ABMA meetings for more than 20 years. I have participated in ABMA as both an associate member with Clark-Reliance and as an active member with Rentech. I’ve made a lot of industry connections through ABMA. Many of those contacts have become friends. It means a lot to me to be able to give back to a great organization that has had such an impact on my professional career and my personal life.


Today’s Boiler: Do you have one primary goal you’d like to concentrate on throughout your tenure as chairman? 

Colman: We will be focusing on advancing the association’s strategic plan. ABMA staff, along with the organization’s consultants, is putting the finishing touches on the implementation task for its strategic plan. The strategic plan focuses on four main areas. 

1. ABMA is looking to grow the membership by becoming the home of the entire boiler supply chain. 

2. Leverage the success of BOILER 2022 and enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience at BOILER 2024. 

3. Develop resources that will help ABMA membership companies engage with local educational institutions and promote the sustainable and diverse career paths available in the boiler industry. 

4. Increase public awareness about the industry’s role in society and how it can play an integral part in achieving environmental sustainability.


Today’s Boiler: What is the greatest challenge facing the boiler industry? How can ABMA members work together to overcome this? 

Colman: Workforce issues are a challenge for the boiler industry and most other industries. This is why workforce development is one of the four items in the current strategic plan. Our hope is that, by pulling together our collective resources and using lessons learned across the country, we can arm our membership with tools that will allow them to effectively engage their local educational institutions and grow the pool of candidates in their area.


Today’s Boiler: The push for electrification and decarbonization has cast its shadow over HVAC industry. What does this mean for the boiler industry? What impact will this have on boiler systems? 

Colman: The boiler industry has been providing innovations for years that have continuously lowered emissions and improved efficiencies of boiler systems. Boilers and the steam they produce will be around for a long time. Boilers can easily burn hydrogen and blended hydrogen fuels. I see the boiler industry helping to lead the move toward decarbonization and environmental sustainability.


Today’s Boiler: As you mentioned before, the skilled trades are struggling to find capable workers. What steps can boiler manufacturers take to overcome this? 

Colman: As an industry, we need to market ourselves to our local workforce and make it known there are good-paying careers with benefits in the boiler industry. By getting the word out about the opportunities in the boiler industry and working with our educational partners we can grow the manufacturing and service workforce for the boiler industry.


Today’s Boiler: COVID-19 has been around for four years now, though its impact may linger forever. What can the boiler industry do to best prepare for the next major catastrophe (pandemic, recession, etc.)? 

Colman: We all learned a lot from the pandemic. Most of the companies in the boiler industry were classified as essential workers. So, even as the pandemic was going on, our membership had to adapt and figure out how to keep the lights on. ABMA worked hard throughout the pandemic to bring relevant and actionable information to the membership. Working together on those things that affect all of our businesses will help us through these types of events. 


Today’s Boiler: Update us on the latest news from Rentech. What is the company most looking forward to in 2023? 

Colman: At Rentech, we are excited about getting back to pre-pandemic business levels. Many capital projects were paused or canceled during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Many of these projects came back to life in 2022, which is helping the industry get back to those pre-pandemic levels. Even as there is uncertainty in the consumer markets, it looks like industrial production will remain strong. This is good news for everyone in the industry. 


Today’s Boiler: ABMA’s Annual Meeting in January 2023 was a great success, and the organization is hosting its Manufacturer’s Conference this month in Chicago for the first time since 2018. What makes ABMA events and conferences so special? 

Colman: The people! The membership of the ABMA is very welcoming, and that is what makes an ABMA event great. The staff works hard to make sure everything is just right and the meeting content is interesting and relevant, but it really comes down to the ABMA members making the organization and our meetings great. 


Today’s Boiler: What does the future hold for you? 

Colman: I enjoy what I am doing, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with the Rentech management team to grow the company. 


Today’s Boiler: What does the future hold for ABMA? 

Colman: ABMA has been around since 1888. It has changed and evolved over the years but has always remained relevant to its members and the industry. I see good things for the ABMA as it evolves, once again, by becoming more inclusive of the entire boiler industry and educates the world on the boiler industries’ integral part in society and how we can help to drive environmental sustainability. 


Today’s Boiler: Thanks, Mark. We’re confident ABMA is in good hands under your leadership. If readers are interested in learning more about you or Rentech, where should they turn? 

Colman: I would direct them to From our website, they can learn more about Rentech, what we have to offer, and how to contact us if they need additional information or a quote for a new boiler. 

By Herb Woerpel, editor-in-chief, Today’s Boiler