The AGMA: Then and Now


As the American Gear Manufacturers Association begins its 94th year this month, we kick off 2011 in a new building after moving our headquarters in December. In preparing for the move we had the opportunity to go through older files and ran across a number of gems—historical photos and articles that show how AGMA has evolved over the years. One such article was written by Sanford M. Brooks, president of AGMA starting in 1961. The article was written about the 50th anniversary of the organization. Among his comments: “The objectives set up at the inception of AGMA have proven to be sound and flexible enough to bridge the technological breakthrough from World War I to the space age.” The same could be said of today’s AGMA.

But why do companies join AGMA today? I was recently afforded the opportunity to communicate with AGMA board member Jack Nowlin, a second-generation owner and president of C-B Gear in Texas. The company started their AGMA membership in 1989. He has been involved in the gear industry most of his life, so I asked him a few questions about the industry and his membership:

What notable changes have you seen over the years?
The most obvious has been the change from craftsmen to computer operators. Where machinists used to spend most of their time turning knobs and checking parts, now they spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen on or off of a machine.

Your company started membership with AGMA in 1989. Do you remember why you chose membership at the time?
We joined for the sole purpose of getting the standards. Then I decided to go to one of the annual meetings. We met several people, many whose names we had heard for years. I found everyone accepting of new folks. I learned things, and after that it snowballed. If you are in this industry you need to be a member, and you need to use your membership—put it to work for you.

Why do you regularly attend Hannover Messe and the AGMA trade missions? Has AGMA specifically helped you expand your business internationally?
These events are important to me. They have given me an industry “worldview,” to see how things are done in other countries, how to compete, and how to best conduct business.

Can you name three things that you would label “more important” when it comes to what you have gotten out of your AGMA membership?
Most important are the friendships and networking. Most of the friendships I have made through AGMA events will last the rest of my life. I have interacted with many people on a personal level. Second are the education opportunities. AGMA as an organization has set itself up as the world authority on gears. Third to me would be the recognition our company has received as a member.

The world has changed a lot in the 94 years that AGMA has been around, starting with a group of nine American companies to now representing more than 400 companies of all sizes in more than 30 countries. This year promises to be AGMA’s most active year yet, and here are just a few of  the activities that we will be sponsoring this year: The Strategic Resources Network will host “Materials and Manpower for the Future” at Ajax Rolled Ring and Machine in York, South Carolina, with a side trip to BMW in Greer for a plant tour and museum visit. The Annual Meeting heads to Texas for the first time. AGMA will have pavilions at IFPE and Hannover Messe, as well as hosting Gear Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Fall Technical Meeting and several academic classes will fill the calendar. Throughout the year our 25 technical committees will continue their work on evaluating existing technical standards and developing new ones.

If you are not a member of AGMA, I encourage you to speak to members like Jack and find out why AGMA is important to their business. If you are already a member, we look forward to hearing from you about how we can help your company and the gear industry continue to move forward.

AGMA to Host Pavilion at Hannover Fair
Looking to increase global awareness of your brand, expand sales, or evaluate the latest products, trends, and competition? Then exhibit in the AGMA Pavilion at the Hannover Messe (Fair) April 4-8, 2011, in Hannover, Germany. Hannover Messe is the leading international showplace for industrial technologies, materials, and product ideas. Featuring 13 leading international trade fairs and 1,000 themed special presentations and forums, Hannover Messe is the number-one event of the year for business, industry, and technical innovations.

For the first time, AGMA will have its own pavilion of exhibits as part of the Motion, Drive & Automation (MDA) trade show. The pavilion offers a complete turnkey package for exhibitors, giving exhibiting companies a convenient and economical way to exhibit at Hannover Messe with other AGMA members. The package includes everything you need to exhibit including translation services, U.S. Commercial Service support, lounges, and more. Just bring your staff, products, and promotional materials.

Boasting around 1,300 exhibitors, MDA is the world’s premier trade show for power transmission and fluid power. Covering approx. 50,000 square meters of display space, MDA features all the innovations in power transmission (electrical and mechanical), hydraulics, and pneumatics. There are strong connections with the neighboring trade shows “Wind” and “MobiliTec,” as well as with the display highlights Energy Efficiency, CMS/Intelligent Maintaining, and High Speed.

In addition to the exhibit pavilion, AGMA will also be hosting a customized visitor delegation for AGMA members. The delegates will receive free admission to Hannover Messe, a tailor made five-day delegation program, participation in the official opening ceremony, and dinner reception, participation in all conferences and forums, plus networking events. For more information on how to participate as an exhibitor or visitor visit or contact Joe Franklin at

Gear Materials Course
AGMA opens its 2011 education schedule with a three-day seminar about gear materials. The program, titled “Gear Materials: Selection, Metallurgy, Heat Treatment and Quality Control,” will be held February 15-17 in Clearwater, Florida. Discover how both the gear design engineer and the gear metallurgist can better grasp their related, critical roles in the exciting world of gear processing, heat treatment, and inspection. The gear design engineer is responsible for the initial selection of material and heat treatment, but the finalization of both material and thermal processing must be a joint effort.

This seminar shows how the gear design engineer first approaches the problem of material selection and heat treatment technology, as influenced by the performance and life requirements of the gear set. It also shows how the gear metallurgist can participate in and thereby optimize the finalized gear manufacturing process. Interspersed in the course are examples of gear-related problems, failures, and improved processing procedures. Analyses and comments on a number of relevant failures are given. Who should attend this seminar?
• Gear design engineers
• Management involved with the design and manufacture of gearing type components
• Metallurgists and materials engineers
• Laboratory technicians
• Quality assurance engineers
• Furnace design engineers
• Equipment suppliers

For more information, or to register for this program, visit