The ESCO Group History

Our History

The Beginning:

In 1965 Wayne Engle started ESCO in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with a $500 home equity loan and 2 employees doing electrical work for homes and farms. The business was run out of Wayne’s basement. Wayne’s wife Shirley administered the office work while raising 3 young boys.

Early success:

Business grew steadily as the company began performing more commercial and light industrial work for clients in Cedar Rapids. ESCO relocated several times to accommodate growth. The company emphasized quality, hard work, employee training, employee development, customer relations and customer service. These founding principles still hold true today.

By the late 70’s ESCO surpassed $10 million in revenues and became one of the largest electrical contractors in eastern Iowa and had acquired branch offices in Peoria and Champaign Illinois. In addition to the electrical contracting business, sign companies were acquired at each location.

Wayne was a leader in the electrical industry and remained very active in the community throughout his career.

Recession Hits:

In the early 80’s we experienced the worst recession since the great depression. The country was in the midst of the energy crisis; unemployment had reached 9% and in 1982 prime peaked at over 21%. Many businesses failed during this period. Fortunately we were able to spin off the electrical branches, the sign businesses and downsize to survive this tough period.

Here we go again:

In the early 80’s with $2 million in revenue and 15 electricians on the payroll, we relocated to a small office and shop in Marion, IA. Since this time, the company has experienced success and has relocated several times to accommodate growth. Ownership was transferred to the next generation in the early 90’s as Wayne phased out of the business and Dave, his son took control of the company.

A key strategy during this rebound period was our emphasis on industrial clients. We focused on electrical maintenance and capital projects for several fortune 500 companies with plant locations in Cedar Rapids.

As we learned more about the needs of these large industrial customers we developed additional services to provide them. These services have grown to become separate groups within ESCO, hence the new name – “The ESCO Group”. These groups consist of Industrial automation, electrical engineering and testing and safety training and consultation. These professional services, combined with the traditional electrical contracting services round out a unique and beneficial offering for our clients.

After the turn of the century, we grew to over $30 million in sales with over 250 employees in multiple locations with 50% of business coming from the professional services groups. Our business with fortune 500 companies with multiple manufacturing plants has continued to grow. We began doing more work nationally and abroad.

In 2005 Dave sold a majority of the company stock to the following leaders within the company, helping to assure a successful ownership transition to a third generation:

Ray Brown – ESCO Group Board Member and ESCO Group CFO
Mike Miller – ESCO Group Board Member and ESCO Automation President
Jamie Shea – ESCO Group Board Member and ESCO Electric President
John Luke – ESCO Group Board Member and ESCO Safety President
Lynn Hamrick – ESCO Group Board Member


We are extraordinarily fortunate to employ great people that serve great customers. We are involved and support the communities in which we live. To learn more about the services we provide, we encourage you to cruise the rest of our website.