With a constantly changing industry, it’s of utmost importance to remain on the cutting edge of gear manufacturing and design, and Nordex has ridden the crest of that cutting-edge wave for decades.
“We’re an engineering-driven company,” said Dan Agius Jr., CFO, General Counsel, and part owner of Nordex Inc. “We’re staffed with gear experts, and they’re constantly working through unique problems with our customers to develop solutions pertaining to gearing and other mechanical engineering problems. We’re not just a gear manufacturer; we also have standard parts, custom, machine parts, and assemblies. So, not only can we make or design the gear; we can make and design all the components around the gear and then assemble it for a customer. We do everything from the design or prototype all the way through production.”
Quality: The driving factor
Having been in business for more than six decades, Agius stressed that quality is always the driving factor of everything Nordex has a hand in.
“For us, everything comes down to quality,” he said. “We couldn’t have been in business for more than 60 years without being committed to being reliable and dependable for our clients. We’re always striving to be the best manufacturer we can possibly be without cutting corners. We have to constantly learn and adapt because the gear industry is always changing, and we have to change with it. And this isn’t just about what sort of cool machine we should get for our factory. It’s our working through a specific problem with our client to deliver the perfect solution to them.”
To ensure that quality, it’s also important to be able to adapt to whatever the industry standards begin to look like, according to Agius.
“A process like hobbing is a standard process that has been around for more than 100 years, but the machinery is always changing,” he said. “With new machines you can make better and more complex gears, and you can do this in a much quicker amount of time than you could on an old Barber Coleman or Pfauter machine. So, we as a manufacturer are committed to keeping up and adapting with the gear industry to bring in the new technology and upgrade as we need to. And we’re a very, very nimble company. We have a high mix on the floor of both gearing and non-gear machine parts, and we are able to adapt quickly to a changing workload in all aspects of our business, such as customer service, engineering, manufacturing, inspection, and inventory control.”
Being able to adapt keeps new customers coming, and Nordex’s level of quality has kept them coming back, according to Agius.
“We’ve been in business for 60 years, and we have relationships with some Fortune 500 companies going back for 30 years or more,” he said. “And that means a lot. Even though the faces are constantly changing on their end, they come and look to us as a reliable manufacturer and design partner to meet their needs. Nordex has many employees throughout our business who have worked here for 20 or 30 years. Their knowledge and dedication of the customers’ needs keep our relationship with our clients growing over decades. Our engineers work very closely with our clients’ engineers at those massive companies to do design work and help solve their problems. This even means we have engineers listed as inventors on some of those companies’ patents.”
That hands-on involvement is what helps Nordex solve its clients’ challenges, whatever they might be, according to Agius.
“We can manage whatever the challenge is — whether it’s designing a gear or, if the gear is designed already, manufacturing the gear, or if they need us to design all the components around the gear — we can handle it,” he said. “Our engineers are on the phone with our clients to work through whatever problems they have and develop a solution.”
Like most companies, Nordex is not immune to the challenges presented by COVID-19, but Agius said the company was able to adapt to keep operations running — and running smoothly.
“Being able to adapt is a really good thing when faced with adversity,” he said. “And now with the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve adapted. We brought in a new technology so our office staff could go completely remote — which is not something that we were able to do before. We made engineering changes to our building to make sure that if someone does have (the virus), it’s not going to spread here. We’re committed to the safety of our manufacturers because they have to be here to do their jobs. And if they’re not worried about their safety when they’re here, then they can solely focus on manufacturing.”
Working remotely has its own set of challenges, and when a company needs to keep designs and production secure, it can be exponentially challenging. Fortunately, Agius said everything is secured through the company firewall, but it still allows for employees to communicate with each other easily.
“We changed how our phone system works, so when you call into Nordex, someone picks it up without going through the ‘press one for sales,’ ‘press two for engineering’ kind of thing,” he said. “But that person is remote, and then that person is able to forward you to our engineers seamlessly, even though they’re remote speaking with you on their cell phones.”
More than 60 years of service
Nordex has been a family-owned business since 1989, but it was founded in 1960 as a designer and manufacturer of surface mount technology assembly equipment. Then, in 1975, Agius’ grandfather, Jerry Agius, changed the product line to electrical-mechanical parts and assemblies.
“At that time, he came out with the first Nordex Design Guide of standard parts and components, which we still have today; in fact, we will publish the 14th edition of the Nordex Design Guide this year,” Agius said. “In 1989, Nordex became fully family owned with my father (Dan Agius Sr.) already at the company for 10 years. He expanded the business from being solely focused on the standard catalog parts into custom components and assemblies, predominantly for the medical, robotics, factory automation, defense, and aerospace industries.”
Being family-owned also adds an extra level of pride when it comes to the myriad of services Nordex can bring to its customers needing gears and more, according to Agius.
“We really run the gamut,” he said. “Different industries have very different needs, some medical technologies may need very, very small products as far as gears are concerned. We manufacture gears from 2 millimeters in outside diameter to 500 millimeters in OD, so we can handle everything. The industry is always changing and adapting and advancing, but as long so there’s a need to transmit power, there will be a need for the gear industry. As the industry keeps thriving, we can keep thriving with it.”
And that means making sure Nordex’s engineers have the best educational opportunities while keeping them up-to-date on the latest industry developments, according to Agius.
“That’s something that we’re very committed to so we can keep up with the industry,” he said. “And that helps us to expand deeper into what we’re doing already in different industries. As of two weeks ago, we completed our AS9100 audit. And hopefully, by the time this publishes, we’ll be certified. We have some aerospace work already, and we are very excited to build on that.”
For Nordex, its continued push for excellence while adapting to its customers’ needs will always be paramount, no matter what the challenge may be, according to Agius.
“Our slogan is ‘Turnkey solutions with a higher level of intelligence,’ and to go back to what I said earlier, we can make pretty much anything involving the gear,” he said. “You really can call our engineers, give a very broad description of your problem, and they’ll help you find a solution. We can then build the entire solution and send it to you, ready to be installed into your machinery, or ready to use.”
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