Eye On Texas: The Trol Factory

The Trol Factory—Six and a half miles west of downtown Houston, in one of those odd Houston neighborhoods where condos, manufacturing plants and shotgun shacks mingle, sits a nondescript building that’s home to Automation Products Incorporated. API has been at that location since 1956, manufacturing a product called the Dynatrol, a simple device that handles a very complex task. The “Trol” is employed by factories and refineries in 60-plus countries to measure the viscosity, density, and material contents of hundreds of products, including beer, laundry detergent, dog food, tire rubber, sulfuric acid, and aircraft fuel. I learned of the Trol factory from the daughter and son-in-law of API’s owner, the device’s inventor. They’d described the place as “a land that time forgot,” where a product that’s still in great demand is produced much as it has been for more than half a century. Last year I was lucky enough to spend time photographing inside this amazing place.

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