OESP Manufacturer of the Year Profile: Carlin/Hydrolevel


By Stephen Bennett

Carlin/Hydrolevel, which recently moved to expanded quarters in North Haven, Conn., was been named 2015 Manufacturer of the Year by the Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP).

The nomination for Carlin/Hydrolevel that was submitted to the awards committee highlighted Carlin/Hydrolevel’s history of providing “quality products that meet the ongoing needs of the industry,” said Judy Garber, executive director of OESP.

“The company designs and builds products and provides the technical support needed by those that install and service their products,” Garber said via email. “Their field personnel are always ready and willing to train their customers on both older and new products.” Garber added, “When invited to do a training session at a local chapter meeting, the answer is, ‘Yes.’”

A corporate member of OESP, Carlin/Hydrolevel is also a stalwart supporter of the Oil Heat Cares program. Both Carlin and Hydrolevel are divisions of C. Cowles & Co. The parent company recently moved Hydrolevel and other divisions from its long-time base in New Haven, Conn., to the location in North Haven; it moved Carlin from East Longmeadow, Mass., to the new location. Carlin is a relatively recent acquisition, made for a number of reasons that Bill Montgomery, sales director for Hydrolevel, summarized.


“We always knew that Carlin made fine products,” Montgomery said. “They’re an industry standard.” Carlin and Hydrolevel are in the same business–hydronics and boilers–so “there were definite synergies,” Montgomery said. “We felt that it was a natural.” Carlin was the originator of the electronic igniter, Montgomery pointed out.

Since Carlin had been based “fairly close to where we were,” Montgomery said, “We could retain some key personnel, and of course we wanted to move the factories together for logistical and economic reasons.”

The new location in North Haven is a former Marlin Firearms factory that features 225,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and 50,000 sq. ft. of office and training space.

Hydrolevel is experienced in the design and testing and manufacture of controls, Montgomery said. It recently updated Carlin’s line of primary controls. “That was our first step [after the acquisition]–a full upgrade of their primary controls, which are the controls that operate the burner. Then we did the same with the solid state igniters. We’re out with a new one now that we feel is the best one we’ve put out, ever.”

Carlin was founded in 1949 by John E. Carlberg and his partner, Bernard Lindberg. They derived the company name from their last names. Carlin quickly expanded, developing a thriving export trade in Germany, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Denmark and France in addition to their dealerships throughout the United States. Carlin Co. designed all of the burners it manufactured, and taught its dealers the technical aspects of the oil burners–an emphasis on education and training that continues to this day, and one of the reasons for which OESP honored Carlin/Hydrolevel.

Hydrolevel Co. was founded in 1965 by Michael DeLeonardis. According to “The Hydrolevel Story,” a summary of its beginnings published by the company, a boiler explosion at a New York Telephone building in Manhattan that claimed the lives of 21 people on October 3, 1962, caught the attention of DeLeonardis because it was caused by an undetected low-water condition; as it happened, DeLeonardis, of Farmington, N.Y., was experimenting at the time with an electronic, water-level device for steam boilers. DeLeonardis had developed his idea in Italy, where he had trained as a steam engineer before World War II. After immigrating to the United States, he refined his ideas while working on shipboard steam boilers in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to the history. Using water as an electrical conductor, DeLeonardis designed a control utilizing a “probe” sensor. The electronic control monitored the level of the boiler water without the use of moving parts that can wear and stick. An innovative time delay mechanism was incorporated, which allowed the probe to be used in the “violent water” of a steam boiler without short-cycling the burner. He took the idea to New York Telephone, which was investigating how to avoid a recurrence of the tragic explosion. The telephone company recognized the advantages of the design, and in 1965 the electronic control was specified for all New York Telephone buildings. Hydrolevel was established as a company, and the Safgard trademark was launched and production of the first probe-type low water cut-off was underway, according to the Hydrolevel website.

Today, Hydrolevel incorporates its proven technology into a line of temperature limit/low water cut-off combinations, low water cut-offs for steam and hot water boilers, multi-purpose tank level controls and condensate pump controllers. Hydrolevel’s steam controls include the programmable VXT Water Feeder, the CycleGard foam-compensating cut-off, 1100 Series Mini controls and 500 Series cut-offs for commercial boilers. The new Fuel Smart HydroStat control performs as a low water cut-off, as well as a temperature limit control and boiler temperature reset.

Cowles & Company was founded in New Haven in 1838. The company evolved from a manufacturer of lanterns for horse drawn carriages to a precision metal stamping company, producing components for U.S. and Japanese automakers.

Today, with six operating divisions, C. Cowles & Company has diversified into plastic injection molding, commercial lighting, automotive accessories, boiler controls as well as burners, controls and igniters for the heating industry.


OESP Seeks Nominations for 2016 Awards

Annually the National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals, recognizes excellence at its annual Awards Banquet held during the Association’s conference. The 2015 Manufacturer of the Year award went to Carlin/Hydrolevel.

OESP’s Awards Committee, made up of six judges representing the association, requests resumes for 2016 Manufacturer of the Year and various other honors it will bestow next year. The resume for Manufacturer of the Year includes, but is not limited to, these criteria: membership in the association, notations of major contributions made in the field of education and examples of ways the company has aided in delivering on OESP’s mission of education.

Judy Garber, executive director of OESP, said the organization has been recognizing all segments of the industry for most of its 62 years. “It all started with the first award, the Hugh McKee Award, going to Charles Grace back in 1969,” Garber said via email. She explained how the selection process for Manufacturer of the Year and other awards works.

“Each year we encourage people to submit resumes for all five of our categories.  Whatever the category, the key criteria need to be included within that resume and that includes our mission of education.” Details can be found on the website www.thinkoesp.org. All resumes need to be received no later than April 1.

With a new event next year in Foxwoods, Conn., the Eastern Energy Expo, the annual Awards Banquet will be held on Tuesday, May 24.


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