The Evolution of Oliver Gear, Inc – 100 Years of Commitment to Quality
From its beginnings as a machine shop in 1892, Oliver Gear, Inc. is one of the oldest quality gear works in the United States. Oliver Gear was formally incorporated as a gear works in 1907 and was the first exclusive Gear Manufacturing Plant in Buffalo, NY and the Niagara Frontier. The founder, Arthur F. Oliver, was born in Boston, Ontario in 1870. He came to Buffalo, NY in 1900 to work at the New York Car Wheel Company on Cherry Street. After several years he moved on to work for a machine shop in a small building on Cherry Street that was to become A.F. Oliver Manufacturing. By the early 1920’s the company had outgrown its first home and moved to larger quarters. By 1931 the growth of the company required a third move, this time to its present location on Niagara Street.
Gear Motions Headquarters over 100 years
Oliver Gear workers circa 1920’s
Oliver Gear has operated out of three locations in Buffalo. In the early days on Cherry Street, gears were manufactured without the conveniences that electricity would later bring. A system of pulleys provided the power to the original gear making equipment. In 1931 the growth of the company required it to locate to its current Niagara Street location overlooking the Niagara River. This era saw the company grow from 18 employees to about 45 people in 1947.
Machines run by pullies
In 1947 A.F. Oliver retired at the age of 77 and sold the company to the Smith family of Buffalo. It remained under the control of the Smith family until Samuel T. Haines purchased it in 1973. Oliver Gear was brought into the Gear Motions family as part of a strategy to build a diverse group of custom gear shops organized into one corporate family. It was Oliver’s ability to produce large pitch and large diameter gearing up to 10 feet that was very appealing to Gear Motions.
A.F. Oliver’s Nephew – Charlie Oliver
In Oliver Gear’s 100 years they have been a quality gear manufacturer for many industries producing gears for all types of equipment including: elevators, ski lifts, petroleum exploration, production and refining equipment, agricultural machinery, compressors and more. During World War II Oliver supplied large and small gears for gun mounts being supplied to the military.
Charlie Oliver, Pat Smith & Bob Patterson
Oliver’s extensive production facilities are devoted almost exclusively to the manufacture of custom gears in many sizes and styles. Through a plant renovation in ’95, the edition of gear grinding capabilities that same year, and an on going re-structuring of the quality system incorporating ISO 9002 fundamentals Oliver has reached new heights, setting a new benchmark for growth.
Oliver Gear shop circa 1951 The Hoefler Helix 700 and the Tag 400 brought added flexibility
Oliver Gear’s shop circa 1964
In 2001 a Helix 700 form grinder was brought in to add flexibility. This machine allows for high flexibility in short runs. In 2006 we brought in the Gleason TAG 400, which offers both quality and performance on production runs.
In 2005 Oliver Gear, Inc., along with the Gear Motions family, began our journey to become an Employee Owned Company (ESOP) by purchasing 1/3 of the Gear Motions stock for our employees. Within the next 5 – 10 years we hope to become 100% Employee owned. This plan allows employees to share directly in the growth (success) of the company while insuring the company stays in the community.
Oliver Gear currently has 25 full time employee owners.
Oliver Gear’s shop 2007
Three generations of Karanas family members have worked for Oliver Gear, Inc.
John Karanas worked both in the shop and as an estimator starting in 1954. Caroline Karanas worked as part-time summer office help this year. Steve Karanas has worked as an engineer since 1981.
Three Generations of Karanas family members have worked at Oliver Gear, Inc.