Battle of the Brands: Leeson Versus Baldor

March 22, 2023

So, you’ve input the ratings you need your new motor to meet, and your choices are down to two motors. Seemingly identical, the ratings on the product data sheet match your requirements precisely. The only difference? One motor is a Baldor motor, and the other a Leeson.

How do you make your selection between these two top brands? Below, we’ll cover the history of these manufacturers and how to choose the correct motor for the job.

History of Baldor

Two employees at St. Louis Electric Company saw a chance to upgrade the design of the electric motors their company manufactured. The two friends were Emil Doerr, the plant supervisor, and Edwin Ballman, a talented electrical engineer with an affinity for inventing. In 1920, they pooled their savings and leaped into entrepreneurship. Baldor motors was born.

Baldor’s brand mission to “make a better motor” served them well as they grew bigger and bigger over the decades. The company only faced two years of losses in its century-long history. Coming off of one of those years (1960 due to the impending “Energy Crisis”), the company’s leadership looked at their product offering and knew it was time for a change. Baldor began to focus on offering services rather than just motors; instead of a small line of standard motors, they began to manufacture custom motors for various industrial purposes. By 1965, they had the widest range of motors on the market.

The company always embraced change; they brought the electric motor industry to new heights and dominated the motor efficiency race.

In 2011, Baldor was acquired by ABB Ltd. Their motors are still sold as Baldor-reliance, and the brand is held under the ABB umbrella. They are now headquartered in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with 15 manufacturing locations across eight states.

History of Leeson

A lot of people don’t know that the history of Baldor is also the history of Leeson. In fact, the two companies share family ties. In 1939, three of Emil Doerr’s sons created Doerr Electric, which was brought under the Emerson umbrella and eventually sold to Nidec.

One of the sons who created Doerr electric was named Lee Doerr. Lee also had three sons, all just as passionate about motors as their father and grandfather. To continue the familial tradition, Lee’s three sons created Leeson Motors in 1972.

Throughout the decades, Leeson Motors acquired four industrial manufacturing companies, and were eventually acquired themselves in 2000 by Regal-Beloit Corp. Leeson motors are still Leeson branded but are now manufactured and sold under the Regal-Beloit umbrella.

Best Uses for Baldor

Baldor motors are best known for their energy efficiency. Their line of Super-E® motors meets and exceeds the NEMA Premium® efficiency standards. The standard industrial motor sits around 88% efficiency, while the Baldor•Reliance® Super-E® motors are upwards of 94.5% efficient.

Best Uses for Leeson

Leeson motors have developed a reputation for handling the harshest conditions found in industrial applications. And you’ll also find that their warranty period can be almost double that of their competitors.


When it comes down to it, you can’t go wrong with either brand. Both are top manufacturers in North America, utilizing the latest in electric motor technologies. With decades of design evolution under their belts, either brand is a top choice if the motor has the ratings required for the application. Your choice comes down to brand preference and loyalty.

Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to select one brand and stick with it. You can reduce your spares inventory and ensure you always have the right motor on hand by standardizing your brand selection.

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