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LEADER has been selling quality, American-made evaporators and other sugaring equipment for 134 years – since 1888. And that is the core of what we do. Yet, we are – more broadly – a maple solutions company. If you need a dealer to walk your woods and help you plan your tubing layout, if you need help fixing an RO machine in the middle of the sugaring season, or if you want to explore which value-added products are right for you – Leader and its powerful network is here for you, to help you Get Maple Done.

Originally founded as W.E. Burt & Co., by William E. Burt, in partnership with Alfred Simkins, Leader got its start in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. Their company's original location was in the old Woodworth Feed Store on Railroad Street in Enosburg Falls. They later moved to Main Street, and then to a building on Bismark Street. W.E. Burt & Co.'s evaporator was known as the Improved Leader Evaporator was based on a design developed and patented by William Henry Wright and Clark Hall. It featured drop flues, alternating draw offs to reverse sap flows, a sap preheater, and a maze of baffles and compartments to facilitate the flow of sap to finished syrup.
In January of this year, the young company was utterly devastated by a fire that started in the millinery next door. The fire almost destroyed the entire town, and W.E. Burt & Co. almost did not survive the disaster. Late the following year, it was near insolvency. But they soldiered on. Actually, it was in 1891, amidst some of its most difficult early struggles, that the company began to go by the name Leader Evaporator. And in 1894 Burt sold off all the other parts of his business to focus on making evaporators. At this time, Leader evaporators were made of tin plate. The sugaring off pans were iron, galvanized iron, and tin plate, and the arches were iron.
The company moved from Enosburg Falls to Burlington, Vermont. A building was constructed at the corner of Battery and College street (site of the current Hotel Vermont).
Leader Evaporator Company was formally incorporated in the State of Vermont. It declared a capital stock of $100,000 and shareholders were William E. Burt, his wife Tillie J. Burt, his brother in law J.M. Ruiter, his nephew A.A. Hunter, and prominent Burlington businessman and investor F.O. Sinclair.
W.E. Burt passed away at the age of 94. His wife Tillie had passed away in 1941, and he remarried Lucille Roy in 1945. After Burt's death, Roy ran the company alongside Alton E. Lynde, a longtime manager, and later Lester C. Brown.
Leader secures an exclusive dealership in the US with 3M for sale of their new plastic tubing, Mapleflo.
A group of individuals involved in the maple syrup industry formed a corporation to purchase the company when Lucille Roy announced her intention to retire. The newly reformed company went on to purchase several related businesses, including the Geo. H. Soule Company of St. Albans, VT, moving its headquarters from Burlington to Soule's factory space in the Willard Building in St. Albans.
Leader acquired the Vermont Evaporator Company of Ogdensburg, NY.
Leader purchased Empire Can Company, of Brooklyn, NY, deciding to get into the can manufacturing business. It was sold two years later to New England Can Company.
Leader bought G.H. Grimm Company of Rutland, VT, which entailed the acquisition of Grimm-owned Lightning Evaporator Company and encompassed its partnership with the Lamb Naturalflow Tubing Company. Through this merger, Leader became the largest maple sugaring equipment company in the world, able to outfit every size of maple syrup producer, from the largest commercial operation down to the backyard boiler.
Leader acquired Springtech Reverse Osmosis Company, of Springfield, VT.
Leader Company relocated its headquarters from St. Albans to an industrial park in Swanton, VT.
Special thanks to Matthew Thomas for allowing reuse of some of the fine Maple History he has compiled on Leader on his highly informative and well-researched website, Maple Syrup History