Need For Speed
12/15/2017 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Personality December 2017 - Ted McIntyre II [3 Images] Click any image to expand.
Personality December 2017 - Ted McIntyre II
By Hailey Hensgens Fleming
If you feel the “need for speed” you can find it in one of the places you may least expect it…in the depths of Cajun Land in south Louisiana. Ted McIntyre II, a Franklin native, has been able to take his passion for “things that go fast” and turn it into a lifelong career by reinventing the wheel with unique applications of turbine engine technology. From motorcycles and boats to commercial fracking equipment and other oil and gas innovations, he and his team at Marine Turbine Technologies are breaking molds and doing things never before seen in the world of power driven equipment - all while making priceless memories along the way.
McIntyre, endearingly known as “Teddy Turbine,” was born in Franklin as the oldest of five. Although there was never an abundance of money, he says he never wanted for anything and it was his parents from whom he learned his work ethic, “They always said, ‘You can have anything you want if you go out and earn your money.’” And what Ted wanted was to go fast. He laughs, “It starts out just putting cards in the spokes on your bike because you like the noise it makes.” He tells the story, “We got out and hustled, me and my brothers, picking up coke bottles, cleaning them, selling them at two cents a bottle for the refund and cutting grass with one of those spiral motors.” With those earnings they would buy beat up go-carts and mini-bikes, fix them up, sell them and build more. Little did he know he would be one of the lucky few to truly pursue his passion as his profession.
He graduated from Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, where he had the honor of becoming one of the first male telephone operators in the city. He then did a short stint in the plumbing industry before going to work for Halliburton in Morgan City in 1973. It was there that his career path would take flight. “I took my first ride in a helicopter and was intrigued by that little engine that was capable of flying five guys at over 100 knots,” McIntyre explains. “It didn’t look like anything I’d ever seen growing up with my background working on hotrods and automotive things and what not.”
With his interest peaked, McIntyre decided to put a turbine engine on a boat in the early 1980s – an experiment that would act as the catalyst for a rapid exploration of new applications soon to follow. As the President and CEO of Marine Turbine Technologies, or MTT, McIntyre perfected his craft, building bigger and faster boats before indulging his interests in automotive applications. In 1998, MTT created the RetroROCKET, a truck with a turbine engine capable of traveling more than 600 miles without refueling. The introduction of the Y2K Jet Bike soon followed in the year 2000.
McIntyre explains the reasoning behind the bike, “Growing up reading ‘Popular Science and Popular Mechanics’ as a kid, we were supposed to be flying cars by 2000.” And, depending on your definition of flying, the Y2K bike nearly fulfilled that dream as the world’s first turbine-powered street legal motorcycle equipped with a Rolls Royce-Allison gas turbine engine. Boasting 320 HP and an $185,000 price tag, the Y2K Jet Bike entered the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the world’s most expensive and most powerful motorbike to enter production. Moreover, it was chosen by “Discovery” as one of the top 10 motorcycles ever built, ranking fourth on the list.
“When we debuted this bike, it was like a tidal wave in the industry,” recounts McIntyre. “Arguably, it was the most significant wheel driven vehicle on the planet and Honda or Harley didn’t build it. A little company in South Louisiana, MTT, and the guys and gals that work there built this monumental piece of machinery in the cane fields of St. Mary Parish. For that I’m extremely proud,” he adds. The first production bike was purchased by Jay Leno of “The Tonight Show,” and its debut brought international attention to McIntyre and his team, creating for them seemingly endless opportunities in their field and beyond.
Soon enough, the efficiency and versatility of his cutting edge turbine technology turned the eyes of major oil field corporations for its potential applications in offshore firefighting, generator and fracking equipment. As the third generation of his family to work in the oil field, McIntyre could appreciate the advantages of a turbine-powered engine over its larger, heavier and more costly diesel counterpart. Additionally, because the turbine engines MTT created are capable of running on anything combustible, from liquid to gaseous fuels at the flip of a switch, their introduction offered a huge swing in industry technology – an advancement that won the World Oil Innovation Award in 2013.
“You can’t live in South Louisiana and not be touched by the oil and gas industry and the fact we were able to bring the better mouse trap is something I’m proud of,” he says. “It’s not often that you can change the landscape of any industry, let alone the biggest industry in the world, and we certainly put our fingerprints on it and developed technology that’s world class and cutting edge. We did it in oil and gas with our fracking and offshore firefighting equipment and to be able to do it in the automotive and motorcycle world is another huge accomplishment.”
Most would look at such success and call it a day, but not McIntyre. He laughs, “I’ll put a turbine on anything.” This time it’s on an airboat – an application that could have monumental advancements toward the conservation of our coastline. Equipped with 3,000 HP, MTT’s Super Turbine Airboat can transport up to 8 tons on dry ground with absolutely no damage to sensitive marshlands. This innovation would eliminate the use of marsh buggies, which dig out canals as they track back and forth, for the plug and abandonment of old wells as well as for pipeline and utility work.
Exploring this new application has allowed McIntyre to put his passion for the preservation of our coastline to work. He explains, “It’s hard to be pro oil and gas and call yourself a true environmentalist, but the two can coexist. You have to be responsible and do things with the mindset that there are consequences. Unfortunately, Louisiana has been the dumping ground for the U.S. and the environment has to be cleaned up. In a small way we can help do that and do so more cost effectively.” He laughs and adds, “Once again, something born out of a little Cajun ingenuity in south Louisiana.”
For all his success, he says he has his wife, Antoinette, to thank. “We’ve been married for going on 43 years and she’s never made me get a real job!” He motions around himself and adds, “I didn’t just wake up one day and have a plan to build this. Like most people that start businesses, I needed a job and thought if I can work for myself that’s great. Since then, it has been all about the jobs.”
Intentional or not, his career has certainly afforded him several unique opportunities, including luxurious worldwide travel with international clients as well as the chance to meet many notable personalities including, Rex Tillerson, Jay Leno, Sir Richard Branson, Ross Perot and Reggie Fountain – to name a few. McIntyre says, “Money’s the scorekeeper, but the memories are priceless, and I’ve had the luxury of being able to make priceless memories and share them with family and friends.” Among those family members are his two children, Ted III and Shelby, as well as his new baby granddaughter, Ana Claire.
McIntyre’s success has also manifested in very tangible ways, allowing him to indulge in his lifelong passion for anything on wheels or on the water. When asked if he’s a collector, he laughs and responds, “I’m an accumulator.” His accumulation includes several boats as well as about 50 collectible cars ranging in variety from classic American muscle and hotrods to the more eclectic Volkswagen Bus and even Jay Leno’s old tractor. He explains, “Like any man who grew up in the hot rod and muscle car era of the 60s and 70s, we all have an infatuation for the cars of the era. But, I certainly appreciate cars that drive and handle well.” Among those that pass the test are his Audi R8 Plus, Ferraris and the ultra-rare Spiker. “Growing up, everything was straight-line drag racing so, now, I have something of an affinity towards cars that can run a road course,” he adds.
As you can imagine, it’s hard to pick a favorite with such a variety to choose from. “I like them all, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought them. I wouldn’t buy something I didn’t like,” McIntyre laughs. “But, I’ll tell you this,” he adds. “My first car was a 69 Camaro RS, blue with white stripes and I now have a 69 Camaro, blue with white stripes. I bought the original by bagging groceries at Winn Dixie and I get in that car now and I’m 16 years old all over again. So, it has a special place.”
Amazingly, for someone who has achieved so much, there are few with a more humble and grateful heart. McIntyre will be the first to give credit where credit is due, “It’s the people from the area, from Acadiana, this is what makes up the company. I might be at the head of it but it’s not ‘Teddy’s Turbine Shop,’ it’s MTT, it’s the people who work in this company that make it what it is today.” For that reason, he and his wife are strong advocates of community and church involvement as well as giving back, always blessing others with a portion of what they’ve been blessed with. “Antoinette and I have always believed in giving back,” he says. “We’ve certainly done a lot and continue to do so by supporting our military, local charities, being involved with Cruising Cajun Country and we are happy to do it.” He adds, “The business has afforded me a lot of opportunities, it’s taken us all over the world, and we’re certainly proud to call south Louisiana our home.”