Now that New England Gear is celebrating its 20th year in business, tell us about yourself and how you got where you are today.
I’m the founder and now sole proprietor of New England Gear. And we got here by answering people’s problems. When we started out 20 years ago, many of the gear job shops of America were looking to upgrade their existing equipment. In 1995, I felt like the gear companies in the country would want to upgrade to the Fellows 10-4 gear shapers. As the years passed, our customers began requesting that our remanufactured machines be full CNC. So, in 1998, New England Gear made the changeover to offer a new 4-axis CNC electrical package.
I’ve been cutting gears for 35 years, and I’m now fortunate to be training the next generation of guys in the business who are getting a lot of experience with remanufacturing the machines and becoming more involved with helping me run the company day-to-day.
What sets New England Gear apart from other companies in the gear industry?
We build machines on speculation. There are six to eight machines coming through the shop at all times. We build before we have the customer for it. Another thing that sets us apart is our options that we offer the customers. Because we specialize in remanufactured Fellows 10-4 gear shapers, we are able to provide many features for the machines.
What are some of the options that your customers need in a Fellows remanufactured machine?
They have been specifically asking for the true stroke positioning option on a Fellows 10-4. A customer would need this option when they are cutting internal gears that are recessed inside the part and difficult to machine. Most machines don’t have the ability to reach down and cut them. For the past 10 years, New England Gear has offered true stroke positioning to solve this problem. To assist the customers with difficult splines they are cutting, we offer this unique feature in both the Fellows 10-4 and the Fellows 20-4 gear shapers.
We also have customers who want to cut a part on centers one day, and they want to cut an internal gear the next day. New England Gear offers a swing away center support, which gives the customers this option with no additional setup time.
Another option we offer is the throated riser. Customers have come to us with parts with a large flange diameter that do not fit into a standard Fellows 10-4. Instead of the customer having to jump up to a Fellows 20-4 and spend another $100,000, we offer a throated riser in the Fellows 10-4 that will allow the customer to cut a part with a 35-inch flange diameter and save money on machine costs.
How do you work with the customers, and what are the results?
Typically, a customer calls me and tells me about their situation or what part they have, and they ask me what’s the best solution to cutting this part efficiently. Then, they will give me the blueprints of parts they are trying to cut. We can then match one of our options with the customer’s needs and provide the machine equipped with the options to produce their parts and satisfy their requirements.
Working with the customers and solving their problems is what keeps them coming back; 65 percent of the orders are repeat customers. The results are always positive. Quality tooling and options results in quality parts.
What are the benefits to purchasing a remanufactured machine versus a new machine?
The biggest thing is the cost savings and the delivery times. New England Gear’s remanufactured Fellows CNC shapers are relatively half the cost of a comparable brand-new shaper. Also, we can deliver a remanufactured machine in about 10 to 12 weeks. The remanufactured machines that we provide produce the same quality standards as a new shaper.
Does New England Gear offer machine parts as well as fully remanufactured machines?
We constantly have machines coming through the shop and have over 150 machines in stock. So, any and all parts for Fellows 10-4 and 20-4 shapers are in stock and can ship out the same day someone needs them.
Describe the new customer that comes to New England Gear?
Our typical new customer is someone who is making a part complete and having to outsource the spline cutting or the gear cutting. They come to us because we have a reputation of being able to take a customer who has never been in the gear business and put them there by providing tooling design and offering the full complement of training, which will allow a customer to become independent, be able to manufacture the part completely, and do all of the gear work in-house.
I grew up in a gear job shop, which makes it easy for me to provide a machine with the full training of operations and tooling to the customers. We can bring a new customer up to speed quickly, and with the new software that our machines have, the customer does not need a tremendous amount of experience in the gear business.
What machine are you bringing to this year’s Gear Expo?
New England Gear is bringing its 100-percent remanufactured Fellows 10-4 CNC shaper. This machine will be equipped with true cutter positioning, throated riser, swing away center support, and the 6-inch stroke option. The 6-inch stroke option allows the customer to cut a larger face width compared to the standard 4-inch stroke. It’s an option that many job shops require.
When visitors come to our booth, #1419, they will be able to see first-hand the quality of the remanufactured machines as well as the options that New England Gear offers to our customers. From there, they can decide which options will best suit their needs.