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January 08 79 In the business of industrial gear repair and manufacturing, the key to success is experienced employees who are willing to take on all sorts of challenges, general manager Randy Burdick explains to Gary Toushek FalkRenewPragerGear Topgear

80 Janurary 08 The Prager part of Falk Renew began as a family owned machine shop business in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1897. It moved into making gears as a necessity for repairing gear boxes made by others. In the 1970s Prager was the first gear company in the southeast to invest in gear grinding technology, which catapulted it into the high speed gear repair business. “It was a big deal for a business its size to have this kind of technology at the time,” says general manager Randy Burdick, “and Prager established itself as a fast, reliable alternative for OEM supplied gear reducers, that had the ability to reverse engineer all types of gearing.” In Falk Renew Prager’s case, says Burdick, “reverse engineering is looking at the engineering principles of a part that Falk Renew Prager did not design/manufacture and attempt to make it better by applying sound engineering principles that incorporate strength and material, heat treat and manufacturing advancements.” Customers often bring in gear boxes that can be 20 or 40 years old and are considered obsolete by the original manufacturer, and request a mechanical upgrade. Falk Renew Prager’s ability to increase the power density of a customer’s existing equipment is derived by employing the latest technology in terms of metallurgy and manufacturing processes, with its in house reverse engineering expertise. The end result is a highly engineered design solution that will provide reliability to the customer and can be delivered fast. Falk Renew Prager is owned by Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Rexnord Industries, Inc. (a manufacturer of highly engineered mechanical power transmission components, drives, and conveying equipment, with 5,000+ employees at more than 30 manufacturing facilities), which acquired the Falk Corporation in 2005. Falk Renew’s repair processes and Rexnord’s RBS daily management system were implemented to create a lean facility, says Burdick, and “business has exploded.” As well as its solid customer base along the Gulf coast and southeast, Falk Renew Prager serves a large part of the industrial gear repair market in Venezuela, as well as parts of Mexico and the Caribbean, in several industries—pulp & paper, petroleum, mining, power generation, material handling, sugar refining, chemical processing, and steel mills. “Most repair facilities attach themselves to a certain market segment,” says Burdick. “Falk Renew Prager can manufacture gearing products for a wide variety of applications regardless of industry. The ability to manufacture through-hardened as well as casehardened and ground gearing puts Falk Renew Prager in a unique position in the repair market place by providing a single source option to our customers for repairs.” Falk Renew Prager’s business has three facets, the first being gear manufacturing, the second being repair and the last being field service, where skilled technicians are deployed with the appropriate equipment to trouble shoot and/or make repairs on a customer’s site. One reason business is booming for Falk is that the gear manufacturing market in the US has been shrinking over the decades, due to consolidations, acquisitions, and bankruptcies. Consequently, customers have been importing OEM gear boxes from companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, while American gear box companies have become more service oriented. It means that when those boxes need repair, there are no spare parts easily obtainable, so it’s been left to the American companies to do the repairs, and make replacement gears. “That’s how Prager got its foothold in this niche, and has done well developing the service aspect of its business over the years.” Technology is changing in the gear business; “The ability to manufacture throughhardened as well as case-hardened and ground gearing puts Falk Renew Prager in a unique position in the repair market place by providing a single source option to our customers for repairs”