Company History and Milestones


In 1958, Crombie Service Company (later renamed NorthWest Engineering Service, Inc.) was founded by long-time friends Allen Crombie and Gene Garoutte. They attended the same high school in Eugene, served in WWII, and studied Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State College (now Oregon State University). They were among the first to recognize a radical idea at the time: heating and ventilation had become so complex, engineers were needed “in the trenches”, taking hands-on measurements and making adjustments to ensure systems were properly balanced. As the HVAC industry developed, building designs and mechanical systems became even more sophisticated, and the need for a company that could solve problems and work as an independent advocate for architects, engineers, and contractors became vital. These early principles helped form our unique approach to commissioning and maintaining building system performance.

After three decades of building a professional legacy in the Portland area, Al and Gene retired in 1991. Subsequently, NWESI formed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. As an employee-owned company, the men and women of NWESI have continued to build on a foundation of technical excellence, integrity, and a passion for client service.


  • 1958:  Crombie Service Co. is established
  • 1958:  Gene Garoutte becomes partner
  • 1960:  Crombie Service Co. lands large Lloyd Center construction project – their “big break”
  • 1962:  Name changed to Northwest Engineering Service, Inc.
  • 1968:  Herb Purtle made a partner
  • 1968:  NWESI moves office from downtown Portland to Tigard, a farmhouse on SW 72nd Avenue
  • 1976:  Three plenum mixing damper invented by Al, Roy Steege, and others
  • 1978:  Three plenum mixing dampers installed on multi-zone unit at Arlington Club
  • 1991:  Al & Gene, NWESI’s founders, retire
  • 1996:  ESOP completed, with Herb Purtle as the first president
  • 1998:  Roy Steege appointed president
  • 2003:  Joe Helm appointed president
  • 2010:  Air Introduction & Regulation, Inc. purchased, expanding footprint to Eugene
  • 2012:  Maiani Construction Services, Inc. purchased, expanding footprint to Spokane
  • 2014:  Ro-Bar Technical Services purchased, expanding footprint to Boise
  • 2017:  Tom Prevish appointed president
  • 2022:  NWESI purchases and moves office headquarters to 8700 SW Creekside Place in Beaverton
alt="Gene Garoutte and Allen Crombie Founders"

“The longer one is acquainted with NWESI it becomes evident they’re a competent group that gets the job done with ingenuity and little assistance. I’ve utilized their talents on numerous small projects for over a decade and found them eager to develop strategies for design solutions that maintain a superior economic balance with quality products.”

Lowell FausettProject Manager, Oregon State University