Q&A with Torsten Schultz

President and CEO at NORD Gear Corporation

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What do you do at NORD?

I’m the president and CEO of NORD for the U.S. Overall, I set the strategic direction of the company. We are part of a global family business with over 4,000 employees and have 36 subsidiaries worldwide.

Over the past two years, we’ve become the largest subsidiary in terms of sales within the NORD DRIVESYSTEMS Group which is a great position to be in. It took us 40 years to get there. We celebrated our 40th anniversary in the U.S. last year.

What does NORD offer the gear manufacturing industry?

Our core products are geared motors. They have torque ratings from 88 to 680,000 inch-pounds. We have parallel shaft/industrial gear units (IGUs), which we brand as our MAXXDRIVE™ product line. These IGUs have torque ratings of up to 2.2 million inch-pounds. We also sell electric motors from 0.16 horsepower up to 200 horsepower.

And then we have a wide selection of control products. They include motor starters, as well as cabinet-mounted and decentralized inverters that go up to 200 horsepower.

But that’s just the products themselves. Overall, NORD prides itself with offering application-specific, complete drive solutions that are customizable to nearly any application.

NORD has market leading delivery times. To give you an idea of what that means, in the last year, we delivered about 26 percent of our orders the same day or next day from receiving the order, about 48 percent within one week, and 70 percent within two weeks. That requires a sophisticated logistic infrastructure, and it was put in place to provide the best possible service to our customers.

You recently expanded both your Charlotte facility and your U.S. corporate headquarters. What was the reason for the expansion?

The Charlotte facility is a leased building, and our next-door neighbors vacated, so we just incorporated some of their space. It took a bit of time to get all the permitting for the utilities, which delayed the start-up a little bit. With the new space being adjacent to our building, we could take our time to reconfigure the layout. Now we’re putting in the latest, state-of-the-art assembly infrastructure — the same that we have here in Wisconsin.

We’re planning to expand our inventory mid-year. After that, we’re going to put in a new paint system. The entire project will double the capacity at the Charlotte facility.

Here in Wisconsin, we’re adding 86,000 square feet to our existing facility. That includes roughly 16,000 square feet of office space, with the rest being used for production and inventory. We’ve been growing so rapidly that in the last three years we have increased more than a third in size, making the expansion an absolute necessity.

How will this expansion better benefit your customers?

It’s going to create additional capacity to supply our current products and the new products we are launching, as well as help further improve our delivery times. We’re also expanding our MAXXDRIVE industrial gear unit assembly capabilities to include the full product range. To accomplish this, we needed a much higher roof height which the expansion will provide.

The Wisconsin expansion is set to be completed later this year. We are also adding engineering and service staff to support our growing customer base.

What makes NORD unique to the gear manufacturing industry?

A strong differentiator is our market leading on-time deliveries. NORD also does not charge any expedite fees, which most of our competitors do.

NORD has a broad range of quality products, including geared motors, motors, industrial gear units, and control products. That makes us a one-stop shop for our customer base and gives us the opportunity to support many different industries and applications.

NORD also has industry-leading technical expertise. We have 16 mechanical, electrical, and control product application engineers on site, and they interact directly with our customers. Something else that is rare with our competition.

We continually expand and enhance our online tools. Our myNORD website portal allows customers to configure products, create quotes, obtain drawings, track orders, and order spare parts 24/7. Customers can also look up products by serial number to configure replacements for gear units. Within the next month, we’ll also be launching a spare parts e-shop that will make it even more convenient for customers who need to receive spare parts in a rush.

NORD’s biggest differentiator is to offer highly-efficient drive systems at a competitive price. NORD uses state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies to manufacture all products in-house. Our gear efficiencies typically exceed 98 percent. To remain competitive, NORD actively invests in the company. Our corporate entity, the NORD DRIVESYSTEMS Group, is very focused on growth, and they are spending more than 80 million euros per year for the last year and the next two years in investments for expansions, machinery upgrades, product developments, and the latest state-of-the-art production facilities.

What other plans does NORD have going forward?

We keep launching new, exciting products every year, which opens up new market-growth opportunities. In the U.S., we’re launching the new MAXXDRIVE XT product line. It’s a two-stage bevel-helical industrial gear unit with a high thermal power rating. It will come in seven sizes with a torque range from about 130,000 to 2.2 million inch-pounds and ratios from about 6 to 22:1. This product will open a lot of new opportunities for bulk material conveyor drives in the mining and aggregate industries.