June 14, 2022
I watch too much television. My excuse is that most of it is what was classified as “educational” back before cable exploded to 500 channels plus movies and shopping. One of the type of program I enjoy are the ‘genealogy” shows where a celebrity traces a branch of their family back to some interesting ancestor. As my wife’s crusty old grandpa Henry warned “shake the family tree and a few nuts will hit you in the head.” The recent controversy over a certain Hollywood star discovering his lineage included a slave owner was, in my opinion, rather silly. If your kin were in the United States before 1860 they probably were affected by the slave economy. Very few of our ancestors were on the “right side” of history. Human nature being what it is, we all want “our people” to be among the good guys. I have yet to hear of anyone claiming to be the reincarnation of a fifth century privy cleaner or tenth century plague victim. In the gear industry we have only a few true “ancestor” companies from the early days. These are the firms that were present at the formation of the American Gear Manufacturers’ Association in 1916: R.D. Nuttall Company Cincinnati Gear Company Earle Gear and Machine Company Newark Gear Cutting Machine Company Philadelphia Gear Works Pittsburgh Gear and Machine Company Simonds Manufacturing Company Van Dorn Dutton Company While some of those names continue to operate today, their business is very different. As far as I know, Earle’s products are now built by another company. Pittsburgh was rolled into the Brad Foote Gear Works organization. Cincinnati has risen from the ashes of a plant closure. I know very little about Simonds and Van Dorn but would like to know more. Each of these firms was a leader in our industry 99 years ago. Today’s leaders are unlikely to be on top in 2115. What is the history of your shop? How did you get to where you are today? Where would you like it to go in the future?