Starke County Economic Development Foundation, Inc.

thermo pride engineering team inducted into society of innovators

STARKE COUNTY – Everett James, director of engineering, and Michael Sharkozy, project engineer, who make up the Thermo Products Design Engineering Development Team, recently were inducted into the 2014-2015 class of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana. The award recognizes individuals, teams and organizations that have proven themselves as innovators in the seven-county area, including Starke, Jasper, Lake, Laporte, Newton, Porter and Pulaski counties.

The team was nominated by the Starke County Economic Development Foundation for their work creating a new ultra-high efficiency, oil-fired furnace that incorporates greater safety by producing fewer emissions. Thermo Products Inc. was established in North Judson more than 60 years ago, and is widely considered to be a leading manufacturer and designer of oil-fired heating equipment.

The challenge to the design team was to develop a condensing, oil-fired furnace for residential and commercial heating using a power oil burner without creating carbon build-up. With less fuel required to provide the same amount of heat, fewer emissions are created than with a standard furnace. The new furnace has an efficiency rating of 95 percent, compared to 85-87 percent for other oil furnaces and natural and propane furnaces rated at 92 percent.

Thermo Products was founded in 1946 and purchased by Burnham Holdings in 1997. Thermo Pride heating and cooling equipment features superior workmanship and product innovation, built with small-town work ethic. Their commitment to handcrafted products and home-town values offers an affordable alternative to mass-produced compromises between quality and price.

Sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College, the Society of Innovators celebrates and promotes innovation in northwest Indiana. It is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center a gateway to lifelong innovators, learners and leaders. The Center discovers, encourages, honors and celebrates individual and team innovators. For more information visit

Innovation awards previously recognized the Knox Lead Railroad Track Team and Kemin-Lambert Farms Team, which also was awarded the Chanute Prize for Innovation.


The Starke County Development Foundation is a not-for-profit local economic development organization (LEDO) providing economic development opportunities on behalf of Starke County, Indiana, the City of Knox, and the Towns of North Judson and Hamlet through the development of industrial parks, rail spurs, greenfield sites, shovel-ready sites, infrastructure and workforce development. For more information regarding Starke County Development Foundation, visit

Everett James (L), director of engineering, points out the elements of the Thermo Pride ‘eductor,’ held by Michael Sharkozy, project engineer, that are the basis for a safer, higher efficiency oil furnace. The Thermo Products Design Engineering Development Team of James and Sharkozy were inducted into the 2014-2015 class of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.