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

Cleveland, OH, July 2006 --- This year, the 2006 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards honor Al Haire, CEO of Enerco Group Inc., a leading manufacturer of gas-fired heating products for consumer, commercial and industrial applications.

In 1984, when working as a sales rep for a small manufacturer of overhead heaters, Mr. Haire leveraged everything he had to buy the company. With a belief in the honor of hard work, a strong mentor and a thoughtful growth strategy, Haire led that small company into the successful EGI, a global manufacturer with 100 employees.

Al Haire and his team began EGI with a business strategy that seemed risky:  to maintain the two-step distribution channel while opening up a new channel reaching the retail market.  To meet this challenge, he guided the further marketing and development of a tank top heater line that would meet the needs of retail customers who worked and played in the cold --- dockworkers, tradesmen, campers, and outdoorsmen.

Through product development, repackaging, and a sales strategy that targeted both large  and small retailers, EGI’s portable heater product line catapulted the company into the retail market.

Ace Hardware was their first large customer; today, EGI products are found in Wal-Mart, Tractor Supply and Lowe’s stores as well as in smaller independent retailers.  Northern Tool and Cabela’s catalogs sell their specialty products for the construction and outdoor markets.

One significant obstacle faced by EGI was the tragic fact that consumers were improperly using the portable heaters inside, putting them at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.  To respond to this issue, the company developed the Buddy line of portable heaters, whose technology features an oxygen depletion shut-off (ODS), making them indoor safe.

With the launch of the Buddy line, EGI experienced a phase of phenomenal growth.  Product demand outstripped their old facility on East 79th Street in Cleveland, so in 2002, EGI moved their headquarters to its present location on West 160th Street.  125,000 square feet of office, manufacturing and warehouse space has allowed the company to grow more efficiently.  EGI has shown about 35 percent growth for each of the past few years

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Enerco Group, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of gas-fired portable heating products for consumer, commercial and industrial applications.  For more information visit www.enerco.com or contact Dennis O’ Toole at 216-916-3000 or 800-251-0001; dennis.otoole@us-egi.com.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors owners and managers of both public and private companies who are primarily responsible for its recent performance.  An independent panel of judges made up of past award recipients and successful business leaders assess the financial performance, company growth, leadership, profitability, strategic direction, innovation, personal integrity, values and originality of each nominee and company.




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