Although Oliver Gear is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year — it was incorporated in 1907 as a gear-manufacturing company — it’s actually much older, having been founded as a machine shop by A.F. Oliver in 1892. Would he recognize the company today?
“I think he’d be surprised by how much we’ve grown,” according to Michael Barron, vice president and general manager of Oliver Gear. “We’re still based in Buffalo, New York, but we’re in a much larger building, and we’ve also been part of the Gear Motions family since 1973.”
The company also shifted its focus in the mid nineties, when the decision was made to transition from a job-shop approach to business to a precision gear manufacturer and grinder, handling larger-diameter, lower-volume orders, better complementing the high-volume capabilities of its sister company, Nixon Gear. This decision was supported by a major renovation to the company’s physical plant, as well as the acquisition of gear grinding equipment, including a Höfler Helix 700 in 2001. Adding a Reishauer RZ300E in 2003 and a Gleason TAG 400 in 2006 further bolstered their flexibility and capacity. Having these machines on site vastly increased Oliver Gear’s customer base, from a geographic standpoint, changing it from a regional supplier to one with accounts as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Florida, and Canada. The markets it serves have expanded as well, with a great deal of business performed for manufacturers of air compressors, machine tools, and companies working in the oil-field industry.
Primarily serving OEMs, the company has developed stocking programs for more than a dozen customers, as well as manufacturing service parts for the OEM aftermarket, and it has also been successful in providing “grind-only” work for other gear manufacturers. “This saves them a great deal of money,” Barron explains, “since they don’t have to invest in the grinding equipment themselves.”
As for the company’s capabilities, it can manufacture ground spur and helical gears from a half inch up to 27 inches to AGMA quality 15 and hobbed spur and helical gears up to six feet in diameter, including a full range of sprockets and splines. Straight-tooth bevel gears are manufactured from a half inch up to 36 inches — in fact, Oliver Gear is now the source for bevel gearing within the Gear Motions organization.
Employing some 25 individuals — many of whom have been with the company for decades — and with 35,000 square-feet of manufacturing space, Oliver Gear has worked hard to build on its long history and reputation for quality. Evidence that it’s reaching this goal is found in the results of a customer survey conducted recently, with responses indicating satisfaction with both the quality of its products as well as its customer service support. “We also found that there’s a great deal of interest in shorter lead times, which can be a challenge due to the complexity of the gears we manufacture,” Barron says, “but we’re currently discussing innovative ways to address our customer’s needs.”
Other innovations include the company-wide adoption of the ESOP — Employee Stock Ownership Plan — program, which is on track to make Gear Motions an employee-owned entity within the next 10 years. “It really has to do with employee empowerment and engagement,” says Samuel R. Haines, who is president of Gear Motions. “We’re very proud of the team we’ve assembled at Nixon and Oliver Gear, and the ESOP program is just one means of extending our appreciation to everyone involved in our continued growth and success.”
Although the transition from a job-shop to a scheduled-production enterprise is ongoing — and the company will always make exceptions for good customers in emergency situations — Barron says that Oliver Gear is going strong, dedicated to exploring new markets, expanding its capabilities, and continuing to provide and improve the level of care its clients have come to expect. “Some of these customers have been with us for as long as anyone can remember,” he says, “and we see that as proof that our efforts are helping them to achieve their own goals, as well.”
MORE INFO Call (716) 885-1080, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to www.olivergear.com.