Anyone who works in the gear manufacturing industry knows that it is a world unto itself, with its own language, history, techniques, processes, and cast of knowledgeable characters. Anyone who has tried entering that world under false pretenses knows they will be found out, and the charade will not last. In many ways, that understanding is central to the philosophy of Banyan Global Technologies, according to one of its founders.
“A few years ago Jeff Kaplan and I realized that we were both looking for something new,” according to Darryl Witte, vice president of sales for the Midwest United States, adding that his partner holds the same position covering the Southeast. “My specialty is cutting tools, and his is abrasives. We’d both spent years acquiring knowledge and honing our skills, and we came to the realization that there was a market need we could fill.”
In short, their gear-specific backgrounds would be an asset to customers seeking abrasive materials and tooling for their specific application, and if it could be sourced in the United States, all the better. “We could find cheaper manufacturers overseas, but that’s not what we’re aiming to do,” Witte says. “You’re not really saving money by purchasing an inexpensive cutting tool that won’t last very long and isn’t designed for the job you’re doing. We don’t just want to provide our customers with a tool, we want to make sure they’re using the right tool.”
That’s why one of the first details reviewed when dealing with a new application is to determine exactly what they’re looking for: the lowest price, the highest quality, or the best cost per piece. It also helps to have a “behind the scenes” understanding of how the purchasing process is conducted.
“Quite often you’ll find that there’s a breakdown in the lines of communication between people who are motivated by different things, or have different concerns,” he says. “The engineering group may be interested in a cutting tool of a particular material and design, while the purchasing agent is more focused on the unit pricing, wanting to save his or her employer money. Both of those concerns are completely legitimate, but the good salesman knows how to ask the right questions in order to address those concerns and make sure everyone gets what they need.”
These skills are brought into play when Witte and Kaplan are discussing the cutting tools and carbide inserts they design themselves and market under the Banyan brand name. Other Banyan products include a gear-chamfering robot (GCR) that is ideal for deburring ring gears used in the wind industry, or other large gears for markets such as mining and construction equipment. A newly developed technology, the first GCR has been sold and is currently being put through its paces. “There’s a lot of technology onboard,” Witte says, “and it’s ‘programless’ so that you don’t have to input a lot of data. The machine is very flexible and can chamfer both internal and external gears without the need for long setup times.”
Based in South Carolina and established in 2007, Banyan — named for the giant tree that symbolizes power to many cultures — Global Technologies’ administrative activities are handled by Jay Adams, vice president of operations, while Kaplan and Witte spend most of their time in the field. The company is something of a hybrid, with the partners private-labeling the products they’ve designed and acting as representatives for other companies providing abrasives and specialized tooling. The key at this stage of the game is to have a broad product line so that customers have options, and the partner’s 45 years of combined experience is helping open doors as they make the case for their highly tailored approach to doing business.
“We respect our customers and feel that we can provide them with an important service,” Witte explains. “We’ve done our homework, we know this industry. And while we’re always going to give our customers what they want, we’re also going to do our best to advise them about what they might actually need. We see ourselves as partners, helping our clients achieve their goals, because that’s how we reach our own goals as well.”