Propane Power | Originally from BoatingIndustry.com
CEO, Lehr Inc.
When ever it’s possible, Bernardo Herzer believes it’s the responsibility of manufacturers to look for environmentally friendly technologies.
That is what prompted the Lehr CEO to focus his company on creating propane-powered small engines, first in the lawn and garden market and, since 2012, the marine industry.
Since then, Lehr has launched three outboard motors – 2.5 hp and 5.0 hp in 2012 and the 9.9 hp in 2013 – with more powerful ones in development.
So far, Lehr motors are being used in applications such as small shore dinghies and as auxiliary motors for sailboats, but Herzer said he sees even more potential for the technology.
“Any person looking for an ease-of-use, price-point competitive, more reliable engine is our customer,” he said.
Boating has been a passion of Herzer’s since a very young age, so the transition to the marine industry for Lehr products was a natural one. He first started converting marine engines to propane when he was 14 and since then has owned several vessels.
In its first year in the marine industry, Lehr generated millions in revenue from the 2.5 and 5.0 hp models. The company now has more than 50 employees.
The company has been recognized with a Clean Air Excellence Award by the Environmental Protection Agency, but the benefits are not just environmental.
Because propane is not a solvent like gasoline, the motors avoid many of the problems that plague occasional use products like outboard engines.
“Ninety percent of problems with small engines are fuel related – stale fuel, contaminated field, ethanol issues, fouled carbs, etc.,” Herzer said.
Many vessels are already using propane for heating and cooking, so there is a convenience factor as well, Herzer added.
He also points out the benefits for marinas, noting it is much easier to work with a local distributor to get a propane tank on site than it is to install gasoline pumps.