One hundred and thirty-five years ago, Isadore and Benjamin Weil opened a modest plumbing business located on Randolph Street in Chicago’s Loop—now a major company known as Weil-McLain.
Since its inception in 1881, Weil-McLain has grown to become a designer and manufacturer of hydronic comfort heating systems for residential, commercial and institutional buildings across America.
Today, with 600 employees, manufacturing facilities in Michigan City, Ind., and Eden, N.C., and regional sales offices throughout the U.S., the Burr Ridge, Ill.-based company continues its legacy of designing and manufacturing hydronic boilers and indirect-fired water heaters that deliver optimum energy efficiency and reliability.
Weil-McLain commemorates 13 1/2 decades of hydronic heating innovations with a year-long 135th anniversary celebration that includes a small giveaway at the 2016 AHR Expo, events at its manufacturing facilities and headquarters, and special promotions throughout the year.
“As the oldest boiler company in America, engineers, contractors, facility managers and homeowners have come to rely on us to deliver comfort and energy-efficient heating,” says Lew Klein, senior marketing communications manager with Weil-McLain. “This significant milestone has been achieved thanks to our hardworking and dedicated employees, our loyal customers and our commitment to offer the latest in advanced controls, materials and technologies.”
Weil-McLain traces its roots to Isadore and Benjamin Weil and their plumbing business at 35 W. Randolph Street in Chicago in 1881. Around the turn of the century, they moved several blocks to 647 W. Lake Street, which today still features Weil Brothers etched in stone on the corner of the building’s façade.
In 1918, after acquiring a main supplier, J.H. McLain Co., the company was renamed Weil-McLain and boiler plant operations moved from Canton, Ohio, to its present location in Michigan City.
Throughout the 20th century, Weil-McLain grew to be a large U.S. manufacturer of cast iron boilers in the hydronic industry. The Michigan City location continues its cast iron foundry operations and houses a laboratory and testing facilities alongside an engineering and development center.
In 2005, after outgrowing the original Michigan City manufacturing plant, Weil-McLain opened a second manufacturing and training location in Eden and a distribution center on the east coast.
In 2012, Weil-McLain opened an administrative office in Burr Ridge, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
Among Weil-McLain’s significant milestones over these many years include:
- Developing the first “wet base” boiler that eliminated the need for a separate base and combustion chamber.
- Introducing the first commercial boiler offered with factory assembled sections.
- Manufacturing the first ultraviolet control system for an atmospheric gas commercial boiler.
- Becoming the first company to factory “fire test” package residential boilers.
Just this past year, Weil-McLain introduced the company’s new and advanced high-efficiency condensing boiler: the 95 percent AFUE Evergreen boiler. The Evergreen features cutting-edge technology with simple controls, flexible functionality for multiple applications, simple installation and maintenance, and a durable design.
The company also launched an enhanced line of its popular SlimFit high-efficiency condensing gas boilers with improved controls, communication and usability.
“Our company has always been driven by a focus on innovation to address a variety of comfort heating needs,” says Klein. “As we celebrate Weil-McLain’s incredible heritage, our commitment to quality, durability and innovation remains stronger than ever, and we look forward to another 135 years.”