Waste Oil Furnace
Ron Leger intended to buy a single waste oil furnace for his auto repair shop. But when he went to make the purchase, he discovered a significant discount for buying more. Of course, he only needed one, but figured he could sell the others.
Ron decided to test it out. He ordered a few more and sold those. Soon, he had a viable business and a dedicated clientele.
Ron died in 2006, but his legacy continues. Today Janet Leger, Ron’s widow, is at the helm. Waste Oil Furnace Distributing LLC, located in Austin, Minn., offers state-of-the-art furnaces and boilers, as well as installation, service and repair. The business is growing due to the popularity of “going green” as well as the products’ cost benefits.
“The furnaces actually deliver more than one benefit,” Janet explained. “First, there is the cost savings - if you heat with used oil, then you don’t have to purchase propane or other fuel. Once you have recovered the initial cost of the furnace, you’re essentially heating for free.
“But that’s not all,” she continued. “If you don’t burn your used oil in a furnace, you’d be responsible for disposing of it in an environmentally friendly way. Most people have to pay for that service.”
Waste oil furnaces and boilers are similar to their traditional counterparts. They have a heated main barrel with a fan to blow air across the heated surfaces. Waste oil furnaces and boilers are heavier and include special parts to process waste oil as the fuel.
Easy To Use
“Our furnaces and boilers are very user-friendly,” said Janet. “We sell a terrific product. It uses a single-pass system but the fresh air to be heated passes throughout the heater three times and every time the air passes, it’s scrubbed through heated fins or extra rolled steel for better efficiency. It’s also an easy cleanup. You just swing open the door, scrape back the ash and vacuum it up. This normally takes 20 minutes or less.”
Most customers are facilities with a large quantity of used oil, like motor oil, hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid and gear lube. Customers include auto repair shops, trucking companies, automotive recyclers, implement dealers and even farmers.
All waste oil furnaces carry a limited lifetime warranty. Warranties on the gun and electric parts are a standard 12 months. New furnaces also come with replacement parts such as a spare nozzle assembly.
“Ninety percent of the time, if you have a problem, it’s related to that,” added Janet. “This way you don’t have to wait for someone to come and repair it or wait for the parts.”
The Internet has driven some new business, but it has really done more to educate customers.
“It has allowed our customers to do some pre-shopping and become a little more knowledgeable about what’s out there,” said Janet. “But there’s really no substitute to getting on the phone and talking to someone, or being able to come in and take a look firsthand.”
The busiest time for Waste Oil Furnace Distributing is just before the cold snap and throughout winter, from about mid-August through mid-April. But the staff works hard throughout the summer to make sure customers are satisfied.
“I think what separates us is that we are very hands-on,” said Janet. “You get a person when you call. We want the customer to be happy. Service after the sale is essential. It’s much easier for us to grow by word of mouth when we have satisfied customers.”
Owners: Janet Leger
Location: Austin, Minn.
Years In Business: 27