Among its many uses, the Customer Technology Center will allow customers to test the equipment that blasts steel grit at high speeds at unfinished surfaces to clean and harden them. The center will also be used as a research and development facility to test new products and as a training area for employees and service people.
Instruction in equipment maintenance and operation will now be hands-on, where before it was done by explanation and slide presentations, said Dick Poole, an engineering manager at Pangborn who helped design the center.
"We've improved the whole lab. It's really going to be a great place," Poole said.
Pangborn machines are used by companies like Ford and General Motors to clean engine blocks, manifolds, brake drums and wheels. The primary markets for the company's products are basic manufacturing industries including foundries, primary steel and automotive manufacturers and aerospace firms. While North America is the chief geographic market, the company is expanding into the Far East, South America and Europe.
"This really is an international facility. We're aggressively investing overseas," said Moore. "We're planning a lot more international activity in the future."
The center is the first evidence of a $5 million investment in the company which is part of an ambitious growth plan aimed at doubling Pangborn's revenues during the next three to four years, Moore said. Pangborn's revenue is currently in the $50 million to $60 million range annually, he said.
"We view this as a real resource to our customers and a platform for growth for us," said Moore, who came on board at Pangborn in February.
Jim Carpenter, retired manager of research and development for 25 years, said he's glad to see the company emphasize technology.
"Pangborn has more technology than anyone else in the industry. This (center) will really make the company grow in the U.S. and internationally," he said.
Pangborn was founded in New York City in 1904 when brothers Thomas and John Pangborn developed the process known as sandblasting to clean metal. They moved the company to Hagerstown in 1912.