Every industry is influenced in immeasurable ways by the creative thinkers and inventors who change the way work gets done. For contractors involved in steel decking, that person was Harry Haytayan, Sr. (July 19, 1929—May 13, 2021), a Professional Engineer and founder of Pneutek, Inc. The pneumatic fastening tools and methods Haytayan invented have helped make mechanical fastenings for attaching steel deck the leading process in the industry.
“Harry was a real innovator, and his work ethic was second to none,” said Geoff Kress, President of Gardner-Watson Decking, Oldsmar, Fla. The original Air/Safe Fastening System introduced in 1977 was revolutionary for attaching steel decking, yet Harry focused on constantly improving the tools through the years, recalled Kress. “When I think back to the tools with a 5/16” and 3/8” headed fastener that required two pins to every one 5/8” puddle weld, Harry knew he had to improve the process to make it more efficient. Things really changed for the market in 1995 when the ½” headed pin was designed,” said Kress. At the same time, Haytayan developed the PT-1500Z and the PT-2000Z to use in conjunction with the 1/2” fasteners.
According to Karen Tuthill, President of Pneutek and Harry’s daughter, Haytayan was known to tout and live by two mantras. “Make your plan, then execute that plan,” and “Patience, Persistence, Perseverance,” are encouragements he passed onto his children, grandchildren, and employees.
Haytayan was born July 19, 1929, in Aleppo, Syria, after his parents escaped the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. His mother died when he was just six years old and he was raised by his grandmother, who instilled in him the importance of getting an education.
During his teen years, Haytayan worked for Syria Petroleum, while he saved money for a plane ticket to come to the United States. In 1952 at the age of 23, he landed in Boston, Mass., enrolling in Northeastern University School of Mechanical Engineering, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and later became a Professional Engineer. He worked as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry until 1970 when he was laid off. It was during that time that he decided he wanted to go into business for himself.
“One evening, while watching the news, he came up with an idea to fasten steel to concrete,” said Tuthill. “He purchased a compressor from Sears and began developing a pneumatic tool. He tested the tool, fastening steel strap, to our basement walls into the early morning hours,” she said. In 1974, Pneutek was born. The first application for the tool was for drywall track.
The first design for the steel deck fasteners that the decking industry now knows were drafted on a cocktail napkin on a return flight from England, explained Tuthill. At the time, welding was the only option for attaching steel roof or floor deck.
Upon his death, Haytayan had accumulated more than 45 patents around the world for his designs, including products for other applications and industries.
Haytayan was extremely proud of his Armenian heritage. “He belonged to many organizations that supported the people of Armenia, especially children in orphanages,” said Tuthill. But he was also proudly an American. Today all the company’s tools, fasteners, parts, and equipment are sourced from within the United States, much of it from suppliers in the Northeast, located close to Pneutek headquarters in Hudson, N.H.
A problem-solver at heart, Haytayan enjoyed the challenge of finding a solution to a difficult application. According to Kress, “Harry was a man that was always available to take a phone call. He loved answering questions and coming up with solutions. I am truly grateful to him for the influence he had on my professional career and the impact he had on our company.”
Harry Haytayan Sr. is survived by his children Karen Tuthill, Harry Haytayan, Jr., Linda Haytayan, and Alita Guillen, and nine grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Katherine.