Q&A with Ken Kiehl

Vice President of Sales & Marketing

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I noticed that you’ve redesigned your Web site and changed the company name.

That’s right. Since our parent company is Cincinnati Steel Treating, we were previously known as CST-Cinti, but we wanted to adopt a name that reflects our core business, which is gearing, so we chose Cincinnati Gearing Systems to make that clearer. We have had customers approaching our booth at trade shows wanting to talk about heat treating, which was fine, but it made us realize we needed a name that fit what we do a little better. We changed our Web address and site so that the emphasis on gears is obvious, and we also wanted to provide information about the company’s activities and expanded capabilities, all of which can be accessed online now. But none of that changes who we are. We’re a full-service gear design and manufacturing facility, and our roots go back over 100 years in gear component as well as systems development. We manufacture gears from less than 1 inch to 150 inches in diameter, including testing and analysis, hobbing, shaping, cutting, broaching, honing, shaving, generation tooth grinding… you name it, we can handle it.

What are the expanded capabilities you mentioned?

One thing is that we’ve brought our new facility in Milford online, where manufacturing and assembly work is conducted. That gave us an additional 45,000 square feet so that we now have a total of 180,000 square feet, with 135,000 dedicated to gear manufacturing alone. We’re running three shifts now, and we recently installed a new Giddings & Lewis 2500 vertical turning center and moved in a Hofler 3500 four-meter gear tooth grinder with independent onboard inspection capabilities, which eliminates the need to take the part off the machine for checking. The G&L VTC, in particular, has been a huge improvement, allowing us to increase our turning capabilities to 106 inches in diameter. We’re also working to set up a new gear unit service area at the Milford facility, where we’ll have a clean environment and plenty of space for assembly and testing of various gear units that type of work requires. We’ve already started working on that area, in fact, and it should be up and running early this year.

How are you dealing with the current challenges facing the automotive industry? 

We’ve seen automotive orders shrink over the last few years just like everybody else has, but we’ve made a point of being as diversified as we can—up to a point, that is, because there is such a thing as having too many irons in the fire. We’re still doing a lot of automotive work, though, in addition to power generation, off-road vehicles, and turbomachinery such as expander and compressor drive products, as well as marine propulsion systems for both commercial and military programs. We also see rail transportation as a growth market, with the increased attention on high fuel costs and more-efficient shipping methods, and we’re placing a real emphasis on gears for the wind-turbine aftermarket. We’re supporting customers in the field with units whose gearboxes have failed and need parts, refurbishment, or replacement.

Tell us about your own history with the company.

I’ve been here for 35 years. I started in engineering, went into sales, spent a couple of years running the shop, and then got back into sales again. I’ve basically been with Cincinnati Gearing Systems my entire professional life. Gear oil runs in the blood, as they say. I firmly believe that gaining experience in different aspects of a company, especially when you’re talking about manufacturing companies, is invaluable. Nearly all the members of our sales force have worked in other areas, including quality control, service, and engineering. When you’ve walked in other people’s shoes you have a greater understanding of the challenges they face, and it just makes you more effective in servicing your customers’ needs. And gear manufacturing is definitely an industry where you’d better know what you’re talking about, because your customers will quickly know if you don’t. We’re always proud to have the opportunity to show off our experience.

MORE INFORMATION  Ken Kiehl Call (513) 527-8634, send e-mail to kkiehl@cst-c.com, or go to [www.cincinnatigearingsystems.com].