Examining the Possible Rossi-Industrial Heat-Cherokee Connection

Since coming across the information that seemed to connect Andrea Rossi with Cherokee Investment Partners, I have been doing quite a bit of research about them, and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Fulvio Fabiani

Just to recap: The possible connection between Rossi and Cherokee rests on the LinkedIn profile of Leonardo Corporation engineer Fulvio Fabiani, who listed as one of his current projects (now deleted) working at Industrial Heat LLC. His job title was listed as ‘Freelance Tech Consultant R.D. department manager’, and his assignments there were listed as ‘Project Designer; head of the project of “Power” system; Team leader of HW & SW development of new designs & projects”. The Swedish blog Sifferkoll has preserved a screenshot of the page here.

Industrial Heat LLC

Who, or what is Industrial Heat LLC? There’s not a whole lot of information out there about them. Fulvio Fabiani’s LinkedIn page gave a location of ‘Raleigh-Durham, Triangle Research, North Carolina’. An SEC filing submitted by the company states it was founded in 2012 an gives the address as 111 East Hargett Street, Suite 300, Raleigh, North Carolina, 27601 — the same address as the headquarters of Cherokee. The SEC filing is a registration to sell $20 million worth of shares, and as of August 23rd, 2013 almost $12 million have been sold. 14 investors provided the funds in the form of equity, debt and options. An article published in the Research Triangle Journal in August of this year commented on the success of this fundraiser, and the author noted that neither Thomas Darden or JT Vaughn, who signed the document were available to comment at the time.

A report on the Chinese website bjxinghuyuan.com, on September 23, 2013, Thomas Darden, Chairman of Industrial Heat LLC, and an investor named Daniel Pike, went to Beijing and held a meeting with a Chinese co-founder of Industrial Heat and various businessmen (possibly potential investors) at Star Lake Park Spa Hotel to discuss “the development of clean energy projects with the United States”. (Pictures at link)

Thomas Darden

Who is Thomas Darden — chairman of Industrial Heat LLC? Mr. Darden is also the CEO of Cherokee Investment Partners, a private equity company that primarily has dealt with cleaning up brownfield sites in many parts of the world. Cherokee is also involved in funding solar projects around the world — focusing on putting solar installations on brownfield sites. One article I read today said that Mr. Darden “has the reputation of being the ‘green conscience’ of private equity investing in the South, if not the nation” (Incidentally that article reports on him entering into a partnership with Donald Trump who helped him to save a troubled project). Cherokee partners with American Designer William McDonough to sponsor the annual Cherokee-McDonough Challenge which provides seed funding to promising environmental business ventures. An interesting video of Darden and McDonough discussing their environmental and business philosophies can beseen here. As a side note, Mr. McDonough is well connected in the business world, having worked with many major businesses and governments — check out his dining companions here.

Thomas Darden is 57 years old, and has a wide range of experience in a variety of business and administrative arenas — many with an environmental focus. Among other things he has served on the boards of Shaw University, the Institute for The Environment at the University of North Carolina, Board of Governors of the Research Triangle Institute, and the Environmental Defense Fund (see full profile here at Forbes.com)

Is This The Partner?

That is obviously a question that people following the E-Cat story are asking. So far, I have not received any response to an inquiry I sent to Cherokee, and Andrea Rossi will not discuss the identity of the partner. So we shall have to wait and see for certain confirmation. A couple of clues dropped by Andrea Rossi in the past seem to fit with a Cherokee partnership. He has mentioned in the past that his partner has a presence in China — and this is true for Cherokee (see here for an article). Rossi also mentioned earlier this year that his idea for the ‘cat and mouse’ E-Cat configuration came to him when he was in North Carolina — where Cherokee is headquartered.

But we don’t have certain confirmation here, and won’t until there is a public announcement. Let’s hope it won’t be too long until all is officially revealed.