When Bruce Cowley acquired Parker Industries in 2008 it was a positive experience for everyone involved. “I already knew the Parker family, including George, the founder, and his wife Pamela, and I had a great deal of respect for what they’d done with the company over the years,” he says. “Pamela took over leadership when George passed away in 2004, and when I heard that she was ready to retire I saw this as a great opportunity for both of us. And that’s exactly how things have turned out.”
George Parker was working in the cutting tool division of the W.E. Sykes company, based in England, when he relocated to Canada in the late fifties to lead its office in Montreal. An adept tool applications engineer and salesman, he eventually decided to go into business for himself, launching Parker Industries in Bohemia, New York, in 1965. The region was a hotbed for aircraft, aerospace, industrial, and vehicle transportation instrumentation gears and splines, and the company flourished despite changing industrial demographics in the coming years. Cowley is now building on that solid foundation.
“George was a very forward-thinking individual and he was involved in some major innovations, such as being one of the first people to introduce solid carbide tooling into the Americas when the competition was still focused upon supplying high-speed steels,” he says. “He’d built a reputation for precision gear tools, spline gages, master gears, and also some specialized products such as highly efficient variable speed drives for the printing industry and vacuum-type pumps for water reclamation used by fire departments. ‘Precision’ is still the word we emphasize in everything we do.”
These days Parker Industries is primarily focused on three areas: spline gages, master gears, and cutting and forming tools such as hobs, shapers, broaches, shave cutters and other form-relieved cutters, and gear grinding wheels. Adjustable floating reamers are available as well. New to the product lineup is a complete range of dimensional handheld gages for large gears and splines, which have proved to be of great interest to gear and spline producers involved in industries such as mining and gearbox production for wind turbines, among others. Whatever the product or device, it is backed by the company’s unyielding dedication to quality and precision.
“Two things we’ve really started to emphasize since taking the helm is our involvement in the design aspects of the 16 product lines we carry, coupled with some direct manufacturing with a select range of products,” he says. “Everything we produce, source, and receive is inspected and calibrated before shipping out to our customers. All of this requires us to invest in and maintain quality systems that are in compliance with ISO 9002 and 17025, AS 9100, and other country and company-specific standards, just to name a few. For example, with source manufacturing partners we are very careful to make sure they will live up to our exacting standards. We’ve searched the world to locate these manufacturers, and we have interests and investment relationships with companies in Western Europe, India and the Pacific Rim, including Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and India. We also supply to customers in those areas too, as well as throughout North and South America, and we have now established operations in Clayton, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition, we have investments and shareholding interests with partners in England, France, and Germany.”
Clearly, the company’s activities have grown dramatically since ownership was transferred to Cowley and his business group, with significant capital investments made to expand its capabilities that resulted in 2008 being one the most successful years in its history. Other improvements include provisions for tool-reconditioning services, retrofitting older gear-roll testers, and reconditioning Mikron gear hobbing machines and Sykes horizontal and vertical gear shapers. The company also invested in new gear and spline grinding machines, as well as wire EDM and inspection equipment to provide precision tooth-finishing services.
A 25-year veteran of the gear-manufacturing industry, Cowley has worked for such heavy-hitters as Gleason/M&M, Process Equipment Company (PECo), Mahr GmbH, Sheffield Measurement (now Hexagon Metrology), and David Brown over the years, acquiring a broad range of expertise and developing relationships that are now incredibly beneficial in his role as a business owner. With a knowledge base consisting of experience in product development and distribution, marketing and direct sales, manufacturing technologies and processes, and the financial underpinnings required by any successful operation, he is uniquely equipped to take advantage of the many opportunities presented by the ever-changing dynamics of industrial globalization. Still, one principle will continue to unite the company’s growth and evolution.
“In everything we do here at Parker Industries we put inspection first, which means that a strict code of quality control is followed for every product or service we offer. We have invested in a wide variety of testing equipment, so we’re in complete control of the quality we deliver,” he says. “And what that really means, of course, is that we’re actually putting our customer’s demands for quality first.”