TB Wood's celebrates 150 years

Chambersburg firm maintains subsidiaries in six countries

Chambersburg firm maintains subsidiaries in six countries

October 24, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. ? A lot has changed in the 150 years since Theodore B. Wood and his partner Peter Housum founded TB Wood's, Inc.

The company, which was founded in 1857, started out making items for the community.

"When they first opened, they'd be making stoves, they'd be making parts for the Cumberland Valley Railroad, items that the farmers and merchants would need, water troughs and feed troughs, and they also made some elements for local bridges," Plant Manager William R. Juergens said.

TB Wood's entered the power transmission industry at the turn of the century with the introduction of flat-belted drives and line shafting used to distribute power throughout the factory.

"It was all industrial applications," Juergens said.

In 1912, the company moved from its location on Third Street in Chambersburg to where it stands today.

Now, TB Wood's designs and manufactures electronic and mechanical transmission equipment, and electronic controls, which are primarily used in the oil, aggregates, and food and beverage industries.


TB Wood's has grown to maintain subsidiary companies in Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Ontario, Germany, Italy, India and Mexico, and distribution centers in Nevada, Canada and Mexico.

In the early 1900s, factories did not have electric motors to power machinery, so TB Wood's used line shafts.

"Back before motors, power was generated by a single pump or steam engine," Juergens said.

Shafts, which distributed the power to the factory, ran through hanger bearings, which hung from the rafters in the ceiling.

TB Wood's patented Sure-Flex couplings in the 1950s, which were used to connect two shafts for the purpose of transmitting power.

In the 1970s, TB Wood's entered the electronic drive industry, with the introduction of a DC current control called Altercon.

In the 1990s, TB Wood's began manufacturing alternating current drives, which are connected to a motor and can increase and decrease power levels in conveyer lines, Juergens said. These drives are used in the food and beverage industry.

Took Coder, vice president of sales at TB Wood's, attributes the company's longevity to the quality of its products and customer service.

"TB Wood's in the industry is well-known for the quality of products we sell and our relationship with people," Coder said.

Coder said the company excels in belted drives, couplings and electronics.

"We're the best in our industry at making big wheels/sheaves," Coder said.

In the category of couplings, TB Wood's excels at elastomeric or rubber element couplings, and in electronics, TB Wood's is the best on enclosed drives, according to Coder.

About two years ago, the company began to use "lean manufacturing" methods, aimed at improving efficiency and reducing waste.

"Everything is done internally," said Thomas Cook, manager of the machine shop large casting value stream. "It comes in as a rough piece and comes out ready to ship."

Cook said the company used to have machines separated throughout the plant, which would leave products sitting, creating waste. Now one product is created from start to finish in one area of the plant.

TB Wood's Inc., the oldest company in Franklin County, Pa., employs 370 people. The company's sales were $118 million in 2006, according to Coder.

Celebrating 150 years

TB Wood's Inc., at 440 N. Fifth Ave. in Chambersburg, will host a celebration open to the public Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to mark its 150 years in business. There will be activities for kids, as well as plant tours and refreshments.

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