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Leading Edge Hydraulics - Technology…Vision…Innovation… 


Our Mission

Leading Edge Hydraulics, an ISO9001:2008 registered company is the premier manufacturer of hydraulic fluid conveyance systems to the off-highway & mobile hydraulics industry.  With its world headquarters located in Rockford, IL since 1965.  The company has experienced consistent growth for almost half a century through technology, vision and innovation. 

Leading The Way

LEH originally developed the NexusForm ORFS Connection in 1985.  It was this technological innovation that set us apart, and continues to forge our destiny as the number one hydraulic fluid conveyance manufacturer in the world.  This style of high pressure connection, along with the complimentary offerings in high pressure 4-bolt flange applications, has revolutionized the hydraulics industry.  The benefits are multi-faceted which bring world class performance to the Nexus Form family of hydraulic connections.

Where We Are Headed

LEH has very distinct and innovative goals for the 21st century.  To be the choice world class supplier of fluid conveyance systems.  Continue to invest in, and develop new fabrication equipment and technologies.  Develop partnerships with world class suppliers of materials, processes and information systems.  And lastly, develop worldwide sales and partnerships with customers in diversified industries.


May 29, 2012- Great article about LEH in the Rockford Register Star  

ROCKFORD — At the lowest ebb of the Great Recession, Leading Edge Hydraulics was down to 65 employees and had little in the pipeline to help the company boost production.

“I really thought the phones were broken for a while,” said Russ Dennis, vice president and chief technological officer.


Today, business is booming, thanks to the company’s new focus on providing customers with fully integrated hydraulic products, partnerships with Swedish and Italian companies, and a new 65,000-square-foot technical center that allows the firm to test new products and machine its own parts.


Leading Edge, which makes hydraulic tube assemblies and fittings primarily for off-highway mobile machinery, has recently started shipping assembled tube-and-hose components to its customers instead of forcing them to order the parts, plus a connecting device, from separate companies. Its partnerships with Cejn, a Swedish coupling supplier, and Manuli Hydraulics, an Italian hydraulic hose manufacturer, made the new business approach possible.


“That eliminates one installation point for our customers,” Dennis said. “Instead of them buying from two separate vendors and dealing with two different part numbers and having people assemble that, now we can ship that combination in and they can drop that on their machine and that saves them labor.”


In 2011, Leading Edge bought industrial space at 2600 Harrison Ave. and retrofitted it to meet its manufacturing needs. The company set up its research and development, sales and marketing support divisions there, supplementing the work that goes on at its 1800 16th Ave. headquarters.


The company hired 75 employees to handle the added workload and is still looking for 25 more skilled workers. It has plans to expand even more if deals in the works become reality later this year.


Dennis said when the company was looking to expand, it didn’t entertain serious thoughts about leaving Rockford. Not only did Leading Edge want to stay close to its 16th Avenue base of operations, but Dennis said the business leadership in the community, including Mayor Larry Morrissey and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, has been vital to the company’s growth.


“I feel like in the last four years our leadership has been forward-thinking,” he said. “It’s neat for me to see Mayor Morrissey and Chairman Christiansen help a company extend its reach and find new opportunities. It really helps when those people are with your (overseas trade) delegation to help open doors with people in other countries.”



June 20 2013 - LEH offers internship as part of Howard D. Colman Scholarship


The awards were made from the Howard D. Colman Scholarship Fund, a fund established through a charitable remainder trust by the late Ruth Colman Tower. Mrs. Tower asked the Foundation to use the Trust to establish the Howard D. Colman Scholarship Fund in honor of her father, Howard Colman.


Resources from this permanently endowed scholarship fund are used to enhance regional educational opportunities and training in the fields of engineering, computer science, or a comparable technology.


Each year the Foundation awards a $2,500 Howard D. Colman Scholarship to four students entering their freshman year of college. Students must be studying the field of engineering, computer science, or a comparable technology. Students must commit to internships at a local company during the summer months and show a commitment to working in the Rockford area for three years after graduation.


Local companies offering internships this year are Leading Edge Hydraulics, the Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, and the Testor Corporation, a division of Rust-Oleum.


Students receiving the Howard D. Colman Scholarship for the school year of 2013 – 2014 are:
Joseph Cruz Belvidere; High School attending Benedictine University

Eric Hasse Honoegah; High School attending Marquette University

Ian Hogshead; Rockford Lutheran High School attending the University of WI -Plattville

Thomas Lynch; Boylan Catholic High School attending Southern IL University – Edwardsville


In addition, the Community Foundation will award a 3 year scholarship worth a total of $30,000 to the 2013 Howard D. Colman Scholar. This sophomore student was chosen from the students who received the Howard D. Colman Scholarship for the 2012 – 2013 school year. This student must be studying engineering, computer science, or a related technology and commit to local summer internships and to working in Rockford for three years after college graduation.


The 2013 Howard D. Colman Scholar is:
Ceyda Bertram; Guilford High School attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Additional Information:
Howard D. Colman (1873 -1942) was one of the most gifted American inventors of the 20th Century. Colman was a scientific prodigy who made his own earliest hand tools and taught himself the fundamentals of mechanics and physics. He solved the last great puzzle of textile automation as a young man, and eventually launched a machine-building business in Rockford, IL. that dominated the international market.


According to his biographer, Jon Lundin, Colman was the most important person to ever live in Rockford. “He changed the course of mechanical science in the 20th century in so many different fields: certainly in textiles, in temperature controls, and remote messaging and contributed significantly to the development of one of the world’s first digital computers. He also created thousands of jobs here. There were 3000 jobs at Barber-Colman
at the time that he died. It’s been a wonderful company in terms of its support of the community and historically one of the leaders in supporting charities locally.”


Ruth Colman Tower (1907 -2009) was the third of four Colman children. Inspired by her father’s ingenuity and generosity, Ruth created a charitable remainder trust in 1987, naming the Community Foundation as beneficiary, and directing the trust to the establishment of a scholarship in honor of Howard Colman.

Howard Colman, the Colman Family, and the Barber-Colman Company have a long history of charitable support for the Rockford Community.


In 1987, when Barber-Colman was sold to an international company, managers from the local company gifted $2.7 million to the Community Foundation to be used in perpetuity for Rockford College, United Way, and broad community needs. In addition, Howard Colman’s children, Edwin, Dorothy,
Ruth and Janet (on behalf of her deceased husband, Walter Colman) directed the $500,000 Barber-Colman Foundation to the Community Foundation and established the Howard D. Colman Memorial Fund which each year supports community nonprofits with financial grants.


The Community Foundation was founded in 1953 and is the region’s largest provider of grants and scholarships. The Foundation’s mission is to attract, preserve and grow a permanent endowment for the present and future needs of the people of Northern Illinois.

Congratulations to the recipients!