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Companies Of A Century: C.E. Niehoff Goes Into The Breech With Brushless

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Brushless generators reduce the power required from engines to produce electricity, saving fuel and making more engine power available for other purposes.

Editor’s Note: Chief Executive is kicking off a new annual tradition this year by celebrating every sizable (over $100 million in annual revenues) standalone company turning 100 in 2023. Check out the rest of this year’s class for tips, insights and, above all else, the inspiration you need to keep going….and going.




HQ: Evanston, Illinois
Revenues: ~$303 million
Employees: ~290 

Military fighting vehicles, firetrucks and hydraulic mining shovels are among the many sophisticated vehicles that would be idle heaps of metal without the heavy-duty brushless alternators at the heart of their engines. And many of these alternators are supplied by C.E. Niehoff, an employee-owned company based in the U.S. heartland that is the world leader in the design, manufacture and supply of these crucial transportation components.

The company is essential to major verticals that rely on brushless alternators. These devices use a motor without carbon brushes to create electricity, relying on a small generator at the end of the motor to transfer electrical current. 

Brushless generators reduce the power required from engines to produce electricity, saving fuel, making more engine power available for other purposes, generating less waste heat, reducing the amount of electromagnetic interference and providing more robust charging currents at low engine speeds. The brushless design eliminates internal arcing, making it ideal for operation in volatile environments where dust, chaff and corrosive agents threaten an engine’s smooth operation.

In fact, C.E. Niehoff’s products operate at about 70 percent efficiency compared with 50 percent or less for legacy devices known as claw-pole alternators.

Helmed by CEO Sue Metzner for the past nine years, C.E. Niehoff deploys both in-house technology as well as bespoke solutions for its customers. The company offers its alternators through a network of military and commercial distributors in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel and several other countries. These products provide the foundation for heavy-duty equipment for the U.S. and UK military and other defense forces around the world. The company’s products also bolster propulsion systems in the often-arduous environments of other verticals, including not only mining and emergency vehicles but also buses and coaches, commercial trucks, construction and agricultural vehicles, ships and trains.


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