A Washington business has received the 2013 National Restaurant Association Kitchen Innovations (KI) Award.

KE2 Therm Solutions Inc., located at 209 Lange Drive, was honored for its energy-efficient refrigeration controller with communications capability — the KE2 Evaporator Efficiency.

The KI awards honor the most promising and cutting-edge advancements in kitchen equipment for the food service industry. The awards were presented at the National Restaurant Show, held May 18-21 in Chicago.

The KE2 Evaporator Efficiency was the first product launched by the company, not quite 4 years old.

“It’s our flagship product, so we’re very excited about the award,” said Pat Holdmeyer, KE2 Therm president. “To be recognized among some of the biggest names in food, beverage and restaurant equipment is a real honor.

“And it shows the talent we have here at KE2 Therm,” he added. The company has 21 full- and part-time employees.

Jeff Kavanagh, KE2 Therm vice president of sales and marketing, said he’s excited by the quality of leads generated at the show.

“Winning an award for the KE2 Evaporator Efficiency and having the additional exposure was tremendous, and further validates the uniqueness of the KE2 Evap,” Kavanagh said.

KE2 Therm also had two booths at the show — one in the central pavilion where all of the award recipients were set up and another with the general exhibitors.

Holdmeyer said several of the company’s customers who are utilizing the KE2 Evaporator technology also displayed the product in their booths at the show.

The award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges, including industry experts like Martin Cowley, senior manager of design and standards for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Robert Marshall, vice president, U.S. operations, for McDonald’s Corporation.

In addition to the indepth application and support documentation that applicants provide, requirements for consideration include feedback from two operators who have used the innovation, products must be commercially available and have appropriate regulatory approvals.

Designed as a controller for walk-in coolers and freezers, the KE2 Evaporator Efficiency controller was selected for its energy efficiency characteristic, unique communication capability and ability to be used for new installation or retrofit of existing refrigeration equipment, the judges said.

“This year’s Kitchen Innovations Awards recipients address today’s leading commercial kitchen equipment challenges with advancements in energy efficiency and sustainability, online tools for tracking and monitoring, intelligent controls, as well as versatility to conform to diverse restaurant layouts,” said Jeffrey W. Davis, convention chair for the NRA show and CEO of United States Beef Corporation.

The KE2 Evaporator Efficiency also recently received the first-place award for new products at Canada’s largest plumbing, HVACR, hydronic, electrical and lighting expo, sponsored by MCEE. KE2 Therm was nominated for the award by one of its wholesalers.

Although the Evaporator Efficiency is KE2’s flagship product, the company has roughly a dozen more on the market today. The Evaporator also has undergone some revisions since it was first rolled out with additional features added.

Holdmeyer called its latest product in development — the Key to Controlled Environment — another game changer for the industry, just like the evaporator.

“We also continue to receive additional projects for our custom controllers,” he said.