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Published: Monday, 7/9/2001

Company sells, services boilers for nearly 30 years

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

But he quickly stops himself with a simple thought.

“It's best to concentrate on what you know and do it well,” said the vice president of sales for Energy Control, Inc., a nearly 30-year-old firm in Maumee.

That philosophy has grown the business since its founding in 1972 by Bob Schoenberger into a company where the founder's son, Jeff, serves as president and which has 13 full-time employees, estimated revenues this year of $2.5 million, and a customer base that includes dozens of large companies throughout northwest Ohio.

Along the way, there has been expansion by purchasing Toledo Combustion Equipment Co., and by branching into selling parts to customers and competitors.

The company sells boilers, priced $20,000 to $750,000, made by Cleaver-Brooks in Milwaukee, which is the largest manufacturer of packaged boilers in the world. A packaged boiler is shipped for use, instead of being made on the site.

All this at a time when boilers are being used less, said Mr. Nickerson. “It's a declining thing, but there's a lot of money in service and parts,” he said.

John Ricker, of DTR Industries in Bluffton, said the company makes rubber products used in the automotive industry and it is imperative the manufacturing process is not interrupted by a boiler malfunction.

“They always have one technician on call, so all I have to do is page them and they'll come running,” said Mr. Ricker. While his plant is heated by natural gas, three boilers are used to heat steam to 360-degrees Fahrenheit to make such products as rubber hoses and plastic hoses.

Most of Energy Control's clients hire them for climate control and sterilization in a manufacturing process, Mr. Nickerson said. ConAgra uses the steam from boilers to make food products at its LaChoy division in Archbold and its Hunt-Wesson operation in Perrysburg.

“We don't concentrate in one industry. We do work in hospitals, in some schools, in a number of businesses,” Mr. Nickerson said.

James Binienda, facilities superintendent for St Charles Mercy Hospital, said he has worked exclusively with Energy Control for three years.

“We get good service, we have a good working relationship with them, and we get a prompt response,” he said.

Quick response time is something that Mr. Nickerson stresses. Don Aubry is vice president of new equipment, Mr. Schoenberger handles the big picture issues of the company, and Mr. Nickerson is responsible for the day-to-day issues.

Energy Control's latest venture is renting out three trailers that house boilers that can be hooked up at any company. For $6,000 a month, companies in need of a boiler can rent the trailers for several months at a time.

“We keep on trying to expand our business into other areas, but still stay in the boiler business,” Mr. Nickerson said.

“When the economy slows down, a company may not be interested in new equipment, so they'll want service and parts,” he said. “When it picks up, they want to upgrade their equipment. So, we have the best of both worlds.”

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, 541 North Superior St., Toledo, Ohio 43660.



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