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EGI – A Cleveland Company on the Grow

It was perseverance, dedication, and innovation that helped EGI grow into a successful Cleveland company. In 1999, EGI founders Al Haire, John DuRoss and Frank Verchik didn’t know that their new indoor-safe portable heater, The Portable Buddy®, would be the springboard into the nation’s largest retailers and the global marketplace. Today, Mr. Heater is one America’s most recognized brands for portable propane and kerosene heaters in the outdoor recreation and construction markets with over $60 million in sales. Now, the company is poised for a new chapter in its history – senior management transition.

This year, Frank Verchik, Vice President of Manufacturing and founding partner, will retire and John DuRoss, President, will become Principle Vice Chairman. Jeff Mack, who joined the company in 2001, has been promoted to President and COO.  AL Haire will remain as EGI’s Chairman and CEO.

A lot can happen when companies make major management shifts, and sometimes the outcome may not be positive. The changing of the guard at EGI – Mr. Heater, however, is a model of a well planned transition - one that started over eight years ago when the company was still in the Old Van Dorn Building on East 79th Street.

Al, John and Frank realized that the company they worked so hard to build would continue to grow well beyond the time they would be able to remain, so having a succession plan in place was just as important to them as all of the other business operations.

The EGI story, from innovative products and the cooperative friendships of management, to recruiting the company’s future leaders is one of the bright spots we have in the Cleveland community. And it’s a story worth telling.

Ten facts to know about EGI (Enerco Group Inc.)

  1. Over the past 35 years, EGI has grown from a small infrared heating division of the Van Dorn Company to an international heating products company with over $60 million in sales in the U.S and Canada.
  2. The company was purchased from Van Dorn in 1973 and named Enerco by founders Al Haire, Chairman & CEO, and Frank Verchick, Vice President of Manufacturing. John DuRoss joined the company in 1981 as president. The company headquarters and manufacturing facility remained in the old Van Dorn building at East 79th Street.
  3. Enerco Group Inc. (EGI) manufactures portable and installed gas-fired radiant and convection heating products for consumer, commercial and industrial applications through three subsidiaries: Mr. Heater®, Heatstar by Enerco® and Enerco Techincal Products. The company’s expanding warehousing and transport needs led EGI to move to its present facility at West 160th Street in Cleveland.
  4. Mr. Heater portable heaters can be found at national retailers like Lowe’s, Bass Pro Shops, Wal-Mart, Target, Ace Hardware and Tractor Supply, as well as in catalogs and online through Cabela’s, Northern Tool and Amazon.com.
  5. Heatstar by Enerco® is a commercial brand of portable forced air infrared and convection heaters sold through propane and HVAC distributors and rental centers for use in garages, workshops and construction.
  6. The Enerco Technical Products division designs and manufactures custom industrial and commercial gas-fired process heating burners and systems that are used in a wide range of applications and products from restaurant pizza ovens to heating snow packed rail cars.
  7. One of the greatest contributors to the growth of EGI was the launch of a small indoor-safe portable propane heater in 2001 that was designed to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) incidents in camping tents, RV’s and hunting blinds. The product named The Portable Buddy® was an instant success that helped to triple the size of the company in less than three years.
  8. Jeff Mack joined the company from Lesco in 2001 as Senior VP of Sales and Marketing with a mission to introduce new product lines, build a strong marketing, customer service and engineering team and increase retail distribution. Jeff was recently named President and COO as the successor to John DuRoss who was promoted to Vice Chairman.
  9. In 2008, EGI opened its own manufacturing facility in Zhuhai, China to develop and market new products through “Hybrid Manufacturing”, a program that integrates Chinese manufacturing with a Cleveland operation that employs engineering, sales, marketing, customer service, warehousing and logistics personnel locally. The BaseCamp® brand of outdoor camping and recreational products, launched this year, is the first new line being introduced through the “Hybrid Manufacturing” process.
  10. Awards and recognition:
    • In 2006, CEO, Al Haire was awarded the prestigious Ernst & Young  “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award
    • In 2007, EGI received the WIRE-net “Mission Builder of the Year” Award for being a company that is mission-focused, honest, visionary, community responsive, collaborative, catalytic and innovative. WIRE-Net is an association of Cleveland businesses providing support in manufacturing improvement and human resource management, training and education, advocacy for new investment in Cleveland and real estate/expansion services.  WIRE-Net connects leaders to each other and engages them in their communities.

Sept 30th, 2009 - Buddy Series Holiday Gift Release

Aug 24th, 2009 - Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Sports New Look, Enhances Features.

Nov 6th, 2008 - Keep Warm With a Mr. Heater® Compact Personal Heater.

Aug 27, 2008 - Mr. Heater Launches New Line of Outdoor Comfort Products

Dec. 2005 - 10 Essentials For Keeping Safe & Warm In A Power Outage Emergency

Aug 7,2008 - EGI-Mr. Heater Acquires Competitor’s Assets

July 24, 2008 - EGI – A Cleveland Company on the Grow

Aug 6th, 2008 - Download BaseCamp Pro Series™ Press Photos

May 2, 2008 - Mr. Heater Now Offers Safe Heat for Small Spaces

Apr 7, 2008 - New Oil-Free Hose Connection Helps Improve Performance For Propane-Fueled Appliances

July 2006 - Al Haire, CEO of Enerco Group Inc. Wins 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Nov. 2006 - Emergency? Mr. Heater’s Big Buddy To The Rescue

Nov. 2006 - Mr. Heater Turns Up The Heat With New BIG Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater

Nov. 2006 - Mr. Heater Expands Line With Wide Range of New Products

Nov. 2006 - Mr. Heater Introduces New Line of Gas-Fired Vent-Free Room Heaters

Nov. 2006 - Mr. Heater Introduces Buddy Wall Mount Vent Free Gas Heater

Oct. 6, 2006 - Mr. Heater Turns Up The Heat With New BIG Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater

Oct. 10, 2005 - Warmth, Safety Possible During Winter Storm Emergencies

Oct. 2005 - Warmth, Safety Possible During Winter Storm Emergencies

Oct. 2004 - New Big Buddy™ Could Be The Holiday Season's Hottest New Product

Oct. 2004 - Emergency? Mr. Heater's Big Buddy To The Rescue

Oct. 2004 - Mr. Heater Turns Up The Heat With New BIG Buddy Indoor Safe Portable Propane Heater`