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Ralph Kokot, CEO of Vanair Manufacturing

Northwest Indiana has so much to offer companies that may consider relocating to this region, including a strong pool of talented, innovative people.  In addition to the natural beauty of the Dunes National Park on Lake Michigan, the South Shore double-track expansion and subsequent increase in transit-oriented housing developments will allow for the talent pool to continue to increase in Northwest Indiana, with more people calling this region their home.

As Northwest Indiana connects its innovation ecosystem, it is important to highlight that innovation is already part of who we are in the region, and Vanair Manufacturing is an example of what happens when innovative people are connected and supported.  

Vanair is ideally located in Michigan City along I-94, between Chicago and South Bend.  This is truly an innovation corridor nestled amongst industry and academia. It is why we recruit talented engineering graduates from nearby Purdue University Northwest and other institutes of higher learning.  

Vanair is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2022, a major milestone in the manufacturing industry. Our company has grown exponentially from a one-product company manufacturing air compressors to a diverse company offering a multitude of Mobile Power Solutions®. 

Vanair’s products are used around the globe, powering the world we live in.  Most of our products are not seen easily – tucked away under the truck or in a cabinet.  But our products help bring gas, electricity, and clean water to our houses, stop fires and rescue people, build our infrastructure (roads, bridges) and more.  Now with Vanair’s innovative solutions, we can do all these things – quieter and without fumes – without using fossil fuels. 

Innovation is key to the success of our company. We continue to embrace technology and explore new projects, and are not afraid to fail, which brings new growth opportunities.  This innovative spirit has led Vanair to grow continually, increasing our talent pool from 36 employees in 2009 to over 165 employees today.  

Our talented and diverse workforce from Northwest Indiana brings outstanding ideas and innovations to life from conception to production.  Every team member exhibits the Vanair Values, which embrace continually adapting, innovating, and/or improving all facets of our business by anticipating and meeting customer and business needs. We don’t rest on our laurels but find new and better ways, making old ways obsolete.

Innovators like ours are all over Northwest Indiana, quietly finding solutions to global challenges through an entrepreneurial mindset. Vanair utilizes this mindset throughout our company. We encourage and empower our employees to think and act like owners in their everyday decisions and actions. We give them the freedom to challenge assumptions and commonly accepted practices. This mindset allows our team members to be self-driven yet responsible members of our Vanair team.  

We are encouraged to see that our universities and high schools also embrace this entrepreneurial mindset. By allowing students to solve problems and have the freedom to fail and explore, they are transforming our region- and supporting companies like Vanair.

Because of this entrepreneurial mindset, Vanair is leading the way in our industry.  A prime example of Vanair’s recent innovations is the introduction of our EPEQ™ line of Electrified Power Equipment, which provides Clean, Quiet Power™ in smaller, smarter, and portable packages.  The flagship EPEQ air compressor kits include the ELiMENT™ lithium iron phosphate 100 Ah Batteries, the EPEQ Rotary Screw Air Compressor, the EPEQ DC-DC Converter, and the EPEQ Inverter3000.  This kit and its components were developed here, in Michigan City, by our team of engineers.  

According to Kai Justice, director of engineering at Vanair, “The EPEQ air compressor kits are unique and provide an answer for those that are energy-conscious or are mandated to move away from fossil fuels.  Our entire EPEQ line of equipment operates off the power-dense “smart” LiFePO4 ELiMENT™ Battery, which was also designed and developed here in Michigan City.”

The world doesn’t stand still, nor do the innovators at Vanair. We are proud to be part of this industrious, innovative region and at the forefront of this innovation ecosystem that our regional leaders, like One Region, are committed to connecting.