Harper traces its name back to John L. Harper, who patented the first electric kilns and furnaces in the early 1900’s. At that time, Harper saw an opportunity with materials processing companies who operated combustion-heated furnaces that were incapable of providing the controlled atmosphere required to process advanced new materials. Determined to find a solution, a young engineer and an electric company executive conceived a better heating method – an electric-resistance-heated furnace capable of meeting the stringent new process requirements. Offering precise control of atmosphere and temperature, Harper furnaces quickly became a quality standard among materials processors and the forerunner of many innovations to come.
John Harper and his colleagues went on to invent the first furnace to process nuclear fuels in the 1940’s and the first commercial graphite-element furnace equipment capable of operating at extremely high temperatures under precise atmospheric controls. They were also early partners to the now booming carbon fiber industry.
In 1989, the Company was formed by private investors to acquire the patents and know-how from John Harper’s company. Since that time, the Company has grown into an internationally recognized leader in providing thermal processing solutions for its customers. Today, Harper International is a trusted leader in the thermal processing solutions for the growing carbon fiber market and is the only thermal systems provider in the world which has successfully installed a complete process line. The Company uses its research center to develop with its customers customized thermal processing systems for new applications.
In 2011, the Company became employee-owned through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.