Cotta Transmission has been in business for more than a century. Could you tell us a little about its history and areas of expertise?
I’d be glad to. Charles Cotta was an engineer and inventor who established the company in the early 1900s, right when Henry Ford’s automobile assembly line was revolutionizing American manufacturing. Cotta introduced what was known as the “constant-mesh shifting transmission,” which he was soon supplying to the emerging automobile and truck industry. In the late forties Cotta began a shift to industrial, heavy duty, and construction products, and in the sixties added a line of high-speed gearboxes.
Today Cotta is a trusted manufacturer of precision-engineered premium transmissions in both stationary and mobile applications such as mining, drilling, industrial, and marine. We are a niche company, and we design everything we make and make everything we design. One of our core competencies is our unique ability to transform our customer’s concepts, regardless of the application, into a value-adding component they can incorporate into the product they’re manufacturing. Cotta Transmission continues to be known for value-engineered solutions, and we’re here to help our customers meet the demands of their markets.
How did you come to join the company?
After earning my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison I went to work for the Outboard Marine Corporation, where I worked in the design department on the Evinrude and Johnson lines. I was with OMC for nearly 24 years before they were forced to file Chapter 7. While there I’d enrolled in the MBA program at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, graduating in 1991, and I’d studied with a gentleman who eventually became the president of Cotta Transmission. He was looking for a vice president of operations and engineering, so he brought me on in 2000, just before OMC filed for bankruptcy.
Over the years I’d made a point of exposing myself to as many different areas as possible, working in design engineering, purchasing, program management, and strategic sourcing, among other positions. So that experience, in addition to all that I’d learned while working toward my MBA, positioned me well when the president’s position opened up. That was in 2003, so I’ve been with the company for 11 years and in this position for the past eight years.
Congratulations on being named chairman of the board of the American Gear Manufacturers Association. What are your plans for the coming years?
Thank you. It’s very exciting, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the industry in this capacity. I’m going to do everything I can to help foster and promote the excellent programs that are already in place, especially those involving online training and education. There’s such a need to make learning opportunities readily available and easy to access, so we will continue building on the great foundation that’s already been laid by the AGMA staff.
Another area involves recognizing the changing needs of the industry and its membership. We have members located all around the world, of course, so we need to be aware of their needs, and also those of the younger generation just beginning their careers in the industry. We need their energy and input, and it’s up to us to make a good case for why they should join the AGMA in addition to their primary responsibilities and concerns.
My personal conviction is that membership provides opportunities to meet and learn from industry leaders and to help develop the standards that govern our work. More than anything, though, AGMA members are just an awesome group of people, and you’ll make friends you can rely on throughout your life and career. So my advice to anyone who’s considering joining is to go for it, because I can promise that you’ll be glad you did!