The Timken Company could be called the Kleenex of industrial bearings.
“In the industrial world, Timken is truly a household name,” said Nathan Glessner, Timken’s Tri-City facility manager.
The Ohio-based manufacturing giant recently built a $7 million, 45,000-square-foot facility in Pasco to expand its capacity for motor repairs across the Northwest.
“This plant that Timken has built is one of the largest motor repair centers in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the western United States. As far as capability goes, with equipment sizing, it competes with any repair centers in the country,” Glessner said. “It’s quite the plant.”
7,300 manufacturing jobs in Tri-Cities in 2013
In the Tri-Cities, the facility is operated by H&N Electric, a re-manufacturing company established in Pasco in 1979. H&N was purchased by Timken in 2013 and the two have been growing together since, Glessner said.
“They have a huge presence worldwide,” Glessner said. “We learned that Timken was going to buy us and, obviously, that was very exciting for us.”
As the American manufacturing industry has shrunk in recent decades, Timken has sought to expand into more stable markets such as repairs.
Currently, H&N employs about 70 people. And it hopes to add 35 more in the next five years, contributing to the Tri-Cities growing manufacturing sector that accounted for more than 7,300 jobs in 2013, according to state employment numbers.
Best known for the manufacture of tapered roller bearings, Timken began as a manufacturing company for wagon bearings and grew to produce parts for everything from airplanes and cars to wind turbines and paper mills.
“The repair world is a very stable market,” Glessner said. “Manufacturing has obviously moved overseas … but one of the things that’s never likely to move overseas is repair. No one’s going to send their car to China for repairs.”
This effort led to Timken’s purchase of a number of repair companies around the country, including H&N.
The purchase was made with the goal of developing a repair base for the entire Northwest, according to the company.
Pasco, according to Glessner, was the ideal site for Timken since it sits at a nexus of numerous industries that Timken services.
“We have a good position here in the region,” Glessner said. “There’s a lot of auto, there’s a lot of industrial, agricultural and wind farms.”
And because H&N already was an established name in the industry, Timken was able to focus on expanding.
“(T)hey came into our group and said, ‘What do you guys need to grow?’” he said.
H&N responded with three short words — a bigger facility.
In manufacturing, bigger doesn’t just mean square footage, Glessner explained. To grow, H&N also needed larger equipment.
“We obviously don’t want to build it too large that we can’t be efficient and cost-effective with our customers,” Glessner said. “But we also don’t want it to be too small that we can’t process some of the motors or gearboxes in our region.”
The result was a more than doubling of H&N’s original facility to more than 70,000 square feet.
We have a good position here in the region. There’s a lot of auto, there’s a lot of industrial, agricultural and wind farms.
Nathan Glessner, Timken Tri-City manager
The original site is now used for administration and an expanded training program. The new building will see the bulk of Timken’s repairs on the West Coast.
“A lot of the motor shops are pretty broke up. They’ve never been able to start ... at square one and design a facility,” Glessner said. H&N got to build its dream facility from the ground up.
“We want to ensure efficiency, so it’s always moving forward, from incoming to outgoing,” he said.
Before the new facility opened, H&N served a 250-mile radius, down into LaGrande, Ore., and up to Spokane. Sometimes, they helped with operations in Seattle and Missoula, Mont.
“It’s a great thing for our company, and for our employees, and for our community,” Glessner said.