Going on the road is like going back to school. You can learn a lot about the state of engineering and manufacturing by visiting companies across the country. Among the lessons from several recent trips: Visionary thinking, a passion for details, and the entrepreneurial spirit still define industrial America.
In Pennsylvania, for example, both T.B. Woods and Transicoil are pushing the envelope in their respective technologies. Under the direction of President Mike Hurt, T.B. Woods has an active "skunk works" effort developing, among other things, custom drives for specific manufacturers. We're certain to hear more about the company's efforts soon.
Transicoil develops standard motors for a variety of applications. Among Transicoil's projects: developing a motor to work with the Jarvik 2000 LVD (left ventricular device). This LVD would be for small women and children. Other LVDs don't fit them, engineer Bob Lazarski says.
In South Carolina, Compact Air Products has grown from a garage operation to a thriving, 250-person company on the strength of its engineering and entrepreneuralism. Founder Larry Yuda, an engineer more comfortable in coveralls than a three-piece suit, has instilled in his employees the same passion for excellence that drove him to start his own air cylinder and pneumatics business.
Baldor, Fort Smith, Arkansas, thrives under the leadership of chairman and engineer Rollie Boreham, Jr., who preaches a view that equates value with perceived quality, service, cost, and time. That view is why the company is a major innovator.
And, in Anoka, Minnesota, Hoffman is proving that something as simple as an enclosure can be quite high tech. Engineering Manager Todd proudly points to the intricate details he and his engineers fuss with as they design the boxes that protect computers, drives, power supplies, relays, terminal blocks, transformers, and other important elements of industrial infrastructure.
They all are the story of American ingenuity, and the reason our economy is so strong.