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The G.C. Evans Company. Driven by Service. Driven by NORD.

If you want to get David McNamer energized, start talking about customer service. David is the Manufacturing Manager for G.C. Evans Manufacturing. He gets animated about service, because this manufacturer of cooling, heating and pasteurizing equipment for the food and beverage industry owes its very existence to a total commitment to customer service.

Waunakee, WI , 2015-07-23

If you want to get David McNamer energized, start talking about customer service. David is the Manufacturing Manager for G.C. Evans Manufacturing. He gets animated about service, because this manufacturer of cooling, heating and pasteurizing equipment for the food and beverage industry owes its very existence to a total commitment to customer service.

“My father, Gerald McNamer was an engineer for John Deere back in the late 1980’s,” explains David. “A lawyer friend of his identified this small company in Little Rock that manufactured gas fired solution heaters and tunnel warmers that was in bankruptcy and could be purchased for assuming the existing debt. My father saw the potential, purchased the business, and immediately began restructuring and customer fence-mending required to put the business back on track. The company had expanded its product line to include tunnel warmers in order to augment the fast-dying solution heater business, but relationships with major bottlers had deteriorated badly, largely due to inattentive customer service.”

Gerald McNamer immediately set out to rectify the customer service issue, and also identified opportunities for using the company’s core competencies in order to expand the product line. Cooling tunnels were added in order to solidify the company’s place in the food processing market, and pasteurizers that melded their expertise in both heating and cooling into one integral unit. While virtually every unit manufactured is custom engineered to a specific need, common to all is a commitment to deliver the most responsive customer service possible, from initial design through installation and follow-up service. “When my father took over this company, it was actually blacklisted by both Coke and Pepsi,” explains David. “It took about two years of hard work and commitment to get back in with them. Servicing the customer in a timely manner was 95% of what it took to bring back the proper level of trust. Ten years ago, we had 8 competitors in the beverage arena. Today, we have two or three. This is largely due to our insistence on superb customer service. It’s what we demand of ourselves. And, it’s what we expect of our suppliers.”

Drives…the critical heart of every G.C. Evans unit

On the day of our visit, two gigantic pieces of equipment were nearing completion on the manufacturing floor. These machines were fairly typical of the scale that is routinely manufactured by G.C. Evans.

The cooling tunnel being built features a 16’ wide belt that extends 88’ in length. The purpose of this cooling tunnel is for cooling jam that is hot-filled into jars. When operational, this unit will be filled with 20,000 jars of jam weighing a total of 50,000 lbs! All of this is moved by one NORD CLINCHER™ integral gearmotor operating at a 2500:1 gear ratio and moving at 0.6 RPM. This drive incorporates a multitude of options that are necessary for the sanitation demands of food processing applications, including NSDtupH protective coating, filling with food grade mineral oil, AUTOVENT™ and an oil sight glass.

A current pasteurizer project was also nearly complete, and is of similar scale. Intended to pasteurize cans and bottles of fruit juices, the conveyor belt is 16’ wide by 84’ long, moving at a pace of 45 minutes of package transit time. Here again, one NORD CLINCHER™ integral gearmotor is used, this one operating at 0.7 RPM. The Director of Engineering at G.C. Evans, Jason Jones, made some important observations regarding the critical nature of drive dependability, as well as ease of maintenance. “Drives on our pasteurizers have to be, in essence, failure proof. If this pasteurizer stops, our customer loses product, and that simply cannot happen. That’s why we trust NORD drives for this, and every machine we make. For this particular pasteurizer, we have also incorporated GRIPMAXX™ bushings on the driving roller. This roller has to be removed every few years to service the bearings and for maintenance on the sprocket teeth. A traditional keyway-secured bushing may be quite problematic, since constant washdown can cause fretting and corrosion in keyways, making them very difficult (and sometimes expensive) to remove. With the GRIPMAXX™, the hollow bore simply collapses on to the shaft. Removal of the shaft is grab-a-wrench simple.”

NORD drives are standard equipment on all G.C. Evans products, including the smaller drives used on Evans-built conveyor systems which bring product to and from the processing unit. They use NORD Helical-bevel integral gearmotors with keyed hollow bores for their infeed drives, and NORD MINICASE® integral gearmotors to drive the dynamic transfer service belts.

There was also an interesting side-effect of G.C. Evans’ innovative approach to conveyors. The company found that the reputation of their custom NORD-driven infeed and outfeed conveyors had spread, which ultimately resulted in the development of a substantial business in “boutique” conveyor systems designed for unique needs where very high quality conveyors are needed. These drives have considerations quite distinct from their coolers, warmers and pasteurizers. In addition to chain pull, torque and horsepower, sizing considerations also include speed, speed through corners and backline pressure that becomes an issue as products accumulate, slow down or stop on a continuously moving belt. Multiple NORD drives may be used on a conveyor system, in many cases identical drives powered variably in order to provide different speeds for distinct sections of the conveyor.

While G.C. Evans is currently an all-NORD operation, unless a customer specifies otherwise, it has not always been that way. As David McNamer explained, "when I joined the company, we were using a NORD competitor’s units exclusively. Then 2008 rolled around while I was in charge of purchasing. Due to the challenging economic conditions that unfolded that year, we had to take a close look at all of our suppliers, including drives. At that same time, Steve Bolton, District Sales Manager from NORD Drivesystems had been calling and speaking to me about NORD drives. We decided to give them a chance, and were in for some very pleasant surprises. Not only were the units less costly than comparable competitor’s units, but they were really high quality, well-engineered units. What impressed us the most was the level of service we received from NORD. It’s really critical that we get the proper engineering support from our drive supplier, and with NORD, we got that. Steve Bolton brought Jim Alt, a NORD application engineer, to meet with us early in our relationship. We have never had an engineer from our former drive supplier visit us. And to our delight as we transitioned into becoming 100% NORD, we were always dealing with a single engineering contact within their company. A person who knew us, knew our business, had been to our plant, and always delivered the right solution to every specific drive challenge. Today, I never worry whether a drive from NORD is the right one for the application. If we provide the right numbers in terms of desired drive performance, we get the right drive, period. They also provide the 3D CAD models that we incorporate into our total system 3D CAD design that is submitted to the customer. From an engineering perspective, working with NORD is a delight. I can’t say that about our former supplier, where we got a different person every time we called engineering. We did not know this person, their qualifications, their capabilities or their experience. And they did not know us. That was not a very comforting feeling.”

NORD Product Manager Jim Alt has been the primary engineering contact with Evans since the beginning. “We felt a terrific synergy early on,” says Jim. “At our first meeting, I explained how we could save them a lot of time at the bidding stage. I could let them bypass receiving chain pull calculations and power estimates from the belting companies. If Evans would supply basic load data, sprocket sizes for the head conveyor, desired operating speeds and load density, I could quickly size the drive. With my background in NORD products, as well as my previous experience in modular plastic chain products, I knew this would be a time and money saving service for Evans.” Jim has since fashioned a simple form for Evans that makes it easy to provide the data required to size the drive and get quotes together quickly. “Evans is an expert equipment maker,” says Jim. “They are the leaders in their industry. We take care of their needs with urgency, whether it involves drive sizing and quoting or getting a drive to them on an expedited basis.”

Great customer service and absolute equipment reliability remain the keys to success at G.C. Evans. “Think about it,” explained Dave McNamer. “If a beverage pasteurizer were to have a drive failure, you’re not only talking about lost product in the unit, but stopping a production line to the tune of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. I don’t want to worry about our drives. And I don’t want our customers to either. That’s why we choose NORD.”

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