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Rockford Combustion

Established in 2019 as part of Rockford Systems LLC (founded in 1971), Rockford Combustion provides fuel-train management and combustion-safety solutions for safety-conscious organizations that work with fuel-fired equipment in thermal processes. We design and locally manufacture turnkey combustion systems for clean-heat applications from simple to complex, backed by best-in-class delivery, installation, and customer support.  

Our end-to-end solutions include consultative inspections and assessments, complex engineering services, technical safety training, high-quality burners, and standard and engineered-to-order (ETO) valve trains, controls, and components.  A wide range of combustion safety solutions enables organizations to improve NFPA compliance, worker safety, efficiency, and air quality while reducing the risk of fires and explosions.

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Combustion Safety Experts

Rockford Combustion has the application expertise to solve any organization’s most complex combustion challenges. Our expert team brings knowledge, experience, and strategic relationships with key customers and suppliers throughout the United States.

Sales and Service

Susan Mlynek
Sr. Combustion Safety Sales Engineer
Direct: 815-980-2804

Susan worked in various sales and customer service roles for over 20 years before joining CEC as an Office Admin and then an Inside Sales Representative. In 2021, Susan joined Rockford Systems as the Senior Inside Sales Representative and enjoyed working with all customers to keep them and their equipment safe. Susan is very customer-focused and is passionate about taking care of customers.

Adam Plaetzer
Combustion Safety Sales Engineer
Direct: 815-218-2575

Adam attended Northern Illinois University and has over ten years of sales and management experience in building materials, automotive and industrial manufacturing. He joins Rockford Combustion, focusing on project and account management. Adam’s background brings years of technical and mechanical knowledge. Adam is high-energy, service-orientated, and values customer partnerships.

Lee Gilbert
Direct: 815-299-9631

Lee graduated from Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University and received his master’s in Mechanical Engineering. Lee is an engineer at Collins Aerospace, Eclipse Combustion, and works as a project manager at Rockford Combustion. Lee works with audits and as a safety coordinator as well. Lee has 5+ years of experience with combustion and brings a high level of engineering expertise to the group for complex solutions.

Chris LaFew
Direct: 815-218-1217

Chris has 9+ years of experience in combustion after jump-starting his career in the stockroom at Eclipse Combustion. At Eclipse, Chris worked his way up through the company and progressed to working with Inside Sales. Since coming to Rockford Combustion, Chris’s primary work is in procurement and working with our asphalt customers. Chris is often the first person that people will speak to when calling Rockford Combustion.

Robin Parker
Field Services
Direct: 815-520-3937

Robin has over 40 years of servicing, troubleshooting, wiring, and repairing combustion processes. He earned a Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Bachelor of Science degree and another in Engineering for the Dept. of Fire Protection Engineering. Robin’s extensive combustion experience with significant automotive, aluminum, steel, and paint manufacturers ensures all company combustion processes meet North America’s TSSA and NFPA 86 standards. 

Robert Pera
Field Services
Direct: 815-218-2945

Bio coming soon.

John Breadmore
Field Services
Direct: 779-771-2813

John has 35 years of electrical experience, including 20 years in the combustion industry. He has a Gas Fitter 1 License from British Columbia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, TSSA License 1, 2, and 3, Genera; Motors IMT Certificate, and an ICI Journeyman Electrical License. He joined Rockford Combustion in 2021 as a Sr. Service Specialist. John is an expert in automotive applications and assembly line procedures. He is detail orientated and adaptable in all industrial settings.

Lee Broadway
Field Services
Direct: 779-537-1394

Lee has 45-plus years of combustion experience and has co-invented five patents for the combustion industry. He started his career as a utility man and soon became a CNC machinist.  During his 23-year career as a Field Technician, he would start up and provide maintenance, repairs, and training on equipment. Lee’s extensive combustion and field experience with OEMs, testing, and commissioning burners and Oxygen, fuel, and airflow control systems is unique and valuable in the industry.   

David Orman
Combustion Service Specialist
Direct: 815-391-0085

David attended Oklahoma State University and served as an Electronics Technician in the United States Navy Reserve.  He has an extensive experience in automotive, mechanical, and electronics.  David brings management, security, and maintenance qualifications to Rockford Combustion.  He provides combustion services and audits to a variety of industries.


Paul Schneider
Vice President & General Manager – Rockford Combustion
Direct: 815-494-3437

Paul began his career performing design work in the automation and packaging industry. He has spent the past 22+ years accomplishing roles with increasing responsibility in companies specializing in Thermal Processing and Combustion. Paul’s work experiences include vacuum furnace design, combustion system design, burner design, combustion industry educational workshop instructor, leadership, and mentoring experience. 

As a working manager, Paul brings a wealth of knowledge to his team, as he is well-versed in Design and Drafting, CAD, CFD, FEA, Basic Engineering Principles, and Custom Engineering of Electrical Control Systems, Combustion Control Systems, Ovens, Furnaces, Burners, and Burner-related equipment. As Rockford Combustions’ VP & GM, Paul has been instrumental in assembling a team of experts with many years of combined experience in the Thermal Processing and Combustion industries.

Chuck Campbell
Director of Training – Rockford Combustion
Direct: 815-391-4620

Chuck began working in the Navy as an engineer for 21 years. Chuck then worked as an operations manager for Arcelor Mittal Metal and as the training department manager at CEC before becoming the training director at Rockford Combustion in 2020. Chuck’s most significant career accomplishment is giving back safety to the people and teaching people how to operate equipment safely. The saying that Chuck lives by is, “Don’t do what you don’t know.”

Bob Sanderson, P.E.
Director of Business Development – Rockford Combustion
Direct: 815-491-9855

Bob has extensive knowledge and is experienced in a variety of industries. Throughout Bob’s 32+ years of experience in the combustion field, he has worked in automotive, abatement-oxidation, aerospace, agriculture, food and beverage, HVAC, heat treating, glass, asphalt, pyrolysis, reducing furnaces, dryers, immersion heaters, and power generation. Bob has been employed by companies such as Eclipse, Honeywell, and Haden Inc. Bob brings systems integration and the application experience of how systems interact in various environments to Rockford Combustion. Bob is a member of the NFPA-86 technical committee.

Joe Nitiss
Chief Executive Officer
Direct: 815-874-3634

Joe Nitiss is a proven leader driving double-digit growth, emphasizing strong execution and operational efficiency. He drives the mission to reduce risk and workplace injuries by becoming our customer’s trusted advisor and source for machine safeguarding, training, assessment services, and provider of turnkey engineered safeguarding solutions.  Joe served as General Manager of the North American business unit of Elster. Mr. Nitiss also spearheaded primary strategy and technical shifts as President of North America of Emerson’s Chloride Group and during his tenure overseeing Genesis Cable (now Honeywell Cable) as General Manager. Before those positions, Mr. Nitiss was Vice President of Marketing & Business Development for Honeywell International and Vice President of Marketing for Emerson. Joe holds a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago.

Bill Holliday
Vice President of Finance
Direct: 815-874-3602

Bill Holliday is responsible for all accounting, finance, IT and human resource activities. Bill has over 40 years of financial experience in the manufacturing industry, including Vice President of Finance for J.L. Clark LLC, a diversified packaging company based in Rockford, Illinois from 2002 to 2017. He was Director of Finance at tool maker W.A. Whitney Co. from 1998 to 2002. Mr. Holliday holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Accounting and an MBA from Northern Illinois University.

Kari Larson
Director of Marketing
Direct: 815-874-3603

Kari Larson is the Director of Marketing; responsible for Market Insights, Inbound Marketing, Data Analytics, Project/Product/Brand Management, and Strategic Planning. Kari began her career performing market research in the media/communication industry and has spent the past 20+ years accomplishing roles with increasing responsibility in companies specializing in Hardware, Packaging, Bearing, Paint/Craft/Hobby, Adhesives, Capital Equipment, Solenoid Valve, Heat Treat and Chemical Industries. Kari’s work experiences include product lifecycle management, project management, process improvement, brand management, Partners in Leadership trainer, LEAN leadership certified, public relations, trade show management, channel management, competitive market intelligence, marketing automation, content creation, the voice of the customer, and P&L responsibilities for product lines ranging from $5 million to $500 million. Kari holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Bradley University and an MBA.

Join Our Team

Know the customer. Know the technology. Do magic. At its core, Rockford Combustion starts with the customer and ends with the technology-driven safety solution, bringing both together to ensure workers clock out just as they clocked in.

We’re always looking for people to join our team who can bring new perspectives and life experiences to our teams.