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Great Lakes Power History

The 1970's | The 1980's | The 1990's | 2000 to Present

The 1970's

The business was launched in 1973 by Harry Allen, Jr., who had grown roots in the industry after working for Cummins Engine Company, George Engine Company and Twin Disc Inc. (a key supplier today). George Engine Company and Dave Bell were key partners in the business start-up, and Twin Disc was embarking on a new distributor base business plan that was a match for Great Lakes Power. Highlights in these early years include:

  • Great Lakes Power opened its doors for business on April 1st, 1973 in a - 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse on Hopkins Road, Mentor, Ohio.
  • George Engine Company and Dave Bell join Harry Allen Jr. and teamed up with Twin Disc, Inc. to begin a new Ohio base distribution business.
  • Great Lakes Power builds on its relationship with George Engine Company supporting their growing oil and gas business and expanding marine business.
  • In late 1974, Great Lakes Power purchases the existing Twin Disc distributor McCash Transmission Services, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • In 1974, Great Lakes Power expands its product offering by building new relationships with Funk Manufacturing, Morse Controls, NEAPCO Manufacturing and Oxy-Catalyst and with Dana Corporation's Wichita and Industrial Driveline Group.
  • In early 1975, Great Lakes Power opens Detroit Michigan branch with Morbark, a chipper manufacturer in Winn, Michigan as its largest customer.
  • In late 1975, the stockholders purchase the outstanding shares owned by George Engine Co.
  • In 1976 Great Lakes Power purchases and moves into its new Tyler Blvd, Mentor, Ohio facility.
  • In August, 1977, Twin Disc grants Great Lakes Power exclusive representation in Pennsylvania and subsequently opens a new branch in Bridgeville Pennsylvania with a growing base of business from Anderson Equipment.
  • In 1978, based on a visit with Bertram Yachts of Miami Florida, Harry Allen Jr. recommends that Great Lakes Power incorporate a new wholly owned Research and Developmentsubsidiary to develop a new transmission for a high speed patrol vessel.
  • In 1979 Great Lakes Power starts Great Lakes Machine & Manufacturing to manufacture in-house these drive line products.
  • Great Lakes Power signs its first long-term requirements contract with Cummins Engine Co.

The 1980's

During this time in the Company's history, the dynamic energy business drew in companies that gambled on speculative inventory. But soon, tremendous declines in the energy market prompted the Company to seek opportunities to redirect its investment and personnel. Before the decade was over, Great Lakes Power had expanded to five branches that represented more than half of the $16 million business. Other highlights included:

  • On May 17, 1980, the Tyler Blvd building was destroyed by fire.
  • New Cincinnati facility opened.
  • Great Lakes Power re-opens its new Tyler Blvd., facility in April , 1981.
  • In April, 1982, Great Lakes Power approves the purchase of Paragon Gears, Inc., of Tauton, Massachusetts, a division of Twin Disc and starts Great Lakes Machine and Manufacturing, Inc., as its Paragon Power division.
  • At the same time the Company added 30,000 sq. ft. to the Tyler Blvd., facility.
  • Obtained a U.S. Coast Guard Contract to rebuild transmissions installed in vessels from 30' to 110'.
  • In July, 1983, Great Lakes Power purchases West Virginia Engine and Transmission, Inc., of Charleston, West Virginia and opens its Nitro, West Virginia branch facility.
  • In 1984 Great Lakes Power purchased the assets of a Hyster Lift Truck dealership in Detroit-Great Lakes Power Lift Division formed.
  • In late 1984, Great Lakes Power purchased the assets of a Hyster dealership in Erie, and Niles, owned by the Morrison Company - Opened branch locations in Cleveland (Brookpark), Erie and North Canton - Great Lakes Power Lift Ohio formed.
  • In July, 1985, Great Lakes Power approved the purchase of the Twin Disc distribution rights and associated assets of Cummins Cumberland and subsequently opens its new Evansville branch.
  • In 1986, the Company built a new 25,000 sq. ft. facility in Warren, Michigan which became the headquarters of our Power Lift Division.
  • In late 1986, the Company converted Great Lakes Power Products to a Sub-Chapter "S" Corp.
  • In early, 1987 the Company acquired MQN Electric which was a flagship GE motor distributor and the first Delco motor distributor.
  • In June of1987, the Great Lakes Power shareholders created Great Lakes Power Service Co.
  • In 1987, Florida based U.S. Power, was incorporated.
  • The Company closed its Nitro, West Virginia branch.
  • In late 1988, Great Lakes Power sold its HP Paragon Power Max product line and certain test equipment to Twin Disc.
  • In June of 1988, the Company approved the sale of the assets of its Great Lakes Power Lift, Ohio Hyster franchise at its Brookpark and Erie, Pennsylvania locations. The remaining material handling business activities remained in the North Canton facility.
  • In late 1989, the Hyster Company announced the discontinuance of their Straddle Carrier product offering, opening the door for our Great Lakes Power straddle carrier remanufacturing operation to take shape.
  • Also in late 1989, the Company purchased the torque converter reblading business from Bowers Machine.

The 1990's

As the Company continued to grow and expand, Great Lakes Power increased its Hyster market share in Michigan with inroads at Ford and GM and continued to expand by opening facilities in Saginaw and Livonia, Mich., and later in Mentor, Ohio. Other hallmarks of the 1990s included:

  • In early 1992, the Company purchased the design and manufacturing rights for the Twin Disc J6500 and J10000 Universal Joints.
  • In 1993, Great Lakes Power acquired the assets of Prodco Company obtaining the rights to distribute the Atlas Copco air compressor line, Ingersoll-Dresser pumps and fluid power products manufactured by Parker-Hannifin and Schrader-Bellows lines. This transaction leads to the opening of our new Brunswick, Ohio branch location in 1984.
  • In 1994, the Company, through its Great Lakes Power Lift Division, successfully completed electric lift truck performance tests at GM's Saginaw foundry operations leading to GM's selection of Great Lakes Power as their Hyster lift truck unit and parts supplier.
  • Harry Allen Jr., develops a "state of the art" endurance racing boat named "Spirit of America" and shortly after creates the "Spirit of America Foundation" and the Spirit of America Youth Education Program for water and boating safety.
  • The Great Lakes Power Lift Division expands with two new branches: Saginaw, Michigan (January, 1995) and Livonia, Michigan (July, 1995).
  • In 1995, the Company relocated its Straddle Carrier Division to its new Liberty Park facility in Mentor, Ohio.
  • The Spirit of America endurance racer sets a new world record racing across Lake Erie from Toledo to Buffalo which it bettered in September, 1996.
  • In 1997, more facility expansion projects lead to the addition of 11,000 sq. ft. of space to the Warren, Michigan Lift Division facility and the opening of a new 46,000 sq. ft. facility at 8200 Tyler Blvd., to house our growing Straddle Division.
  • On May 19, 1997, the Spirit of America racing team was successful in capturing the Sun Coast to Gold Coast Victory Cup, a new world's record. In June of 1997 another world record was taken by the Spirit of America team that being the Miami-Nassau-Miami run, another World APBA record.
  • In the summer of 1998, the Company celebrated its 25th anniversary celebrating the event with employees, customers and suppliers in downtown Cleveland.
  • In 1998, Great Lakes Power celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • In June, 1998, US Power, Inc., is sold to Southern Diesel Systems, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Twin Disc.
  • In July, 1999, the Company sells its stationary air compressor business to Air Technology of Columbus, Ohio as well as closes its Brunswick, Ohio facility.
  • To supplement the activities of the Company's Straddle Carrier Division, the Company via an alliance with Omniquip Corp., begain renting construction equipment through its newly established Rental Division.

The 2000's to Present

Great Lakes Power continued to focus its attention and resources on its core business activities of material handling, engineered products, service and manufacturing. Improving economic conditions that helped the Company grow during the early 2000's suddenly and drastically fell in the later part of the decade. Many of the changes that occurred and tough decisions made by the Company during those times set the foundation for a healthy recovery into the next decade. Other historical highlights include:

  • The Company sells the assets of its MQN electrical products business to Meier Transmission in early March, 2000 followed up in the same month by the sale of its fluid power business to B.W. Rogers.
  • In late 2000, the Company acquired the Twin Disc distribution rights along with certain assets from the W.A. Kraft Co. taking over the New England and Georgia territories. The Georgia territory distribution rights and certain assets were subsequently sold to Twin Disc.
  • On June 29, 2001, the Company acquired the stock of Ramco-Universal, Inc., a business providing material handling and mobile equipment replacement parts for Ford and also a franchised Motorcraft Dealer for Ford parts. Great Lakes-Ramco, Inc., was created from the merger as an operating unit of our Great Lakes Power Lift Division and moved from its origin in St Clair Shores, Michigan to the Lift Division's Warren, Michigan location.
  • In 2003 The Straddle Carrier Division moves its operation at its 8200 Tyler Blvd., Liberty Park location and consolidates its activities at the Company's 7455 Tyler Blvd., Mentor headquarters.
  • In August, of 2003, the Company's Great Lakes Power Lift Division sells the Motorcraft franchise to the Rowerdink Company.
  • Great Lakes Power Service closes its Power Rents Division.
  • In February, 2004, the Shareholders of the Company approve the expansion of the Board of Directors to include two outside directors. Dennis Eckart and Brent Grover accept nomination as new outside Board members.
  • The Great Lakes Power Service Mentor branch operation, as well as the Straddle Carrier Division, moves to a new 50,000 square foot facility in Perry, Ohio.
  • North Atlantic Power Products moves from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to a new 25,000 square foot facility in Exeter, New Hampshire.
  • Great Lakes Power expands its power products distribution line card and becomes an authorized distributor of Shuttlelift, Gear Products, Fantuzzi and Interlube as new distribution partners.
  • In 2007, the Company acquires the assets of Metropolitan Diesel, a Detroit based distributor of filters, oils, lubricants and push pull cables serving the local industrial market and consolidates activities into the Company's Tyler Michigan facility.
  • In December, 2010 effective January, 2011, Harry Allen Jr., Chairman, President and CEO and David Bell, Sr. Vice President announce their retirement.
  • In December, 2010 effective January, 2011, Richard J. Pennza is elected President and CEO.
  • On January 31, 2011, Dave Bell, Dennis Eckart and Brett Grover resign as members of the Board of Directors.
  • Correspondingly, the Shareholders elect Harry Allen III, David Allen, Andrea Allen-Morris and Stephen Allen as representatives to the Board of Directors.
  • Great Lakes Power Service introduces the ST-35 Straddle Carrier. First proto- type sold to the Timken Company.
  • The Company sells its Hyster Lift Division in December 2012 to the Alta Equipment Company.
  • In early 2013, the Company begins a new relationship with Carraro to service drive line components for NACCO material handling equipment.
  • In April, 2013, the Company renews its ongoing relationship with the Dana Corporation by signing a new Authorize Service Center Agreement.
  • In May 2013, the Company is granted GSA status from the United States Government and receives its preferred supplier status.
  • In June 2013, Great Lakes Power becomes an authorized distributor of diesel air starters for TDI, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric.
  • In July, 2013, North Atlantic Power opens its second branch location in South Brunswick, New Jersey.

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