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Motoring forward.

Fort Smith's Baldor Electric Co. Expanding Its Lab

Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith recently was ranked as the nation's preferred supplier of electric motors to industry.

In an effort to maintain that ranking, which followed a study by Purchasing Magazine, Baldor is expanding its operation. The expansion of the design engineering laboratory will add almost 10,000 SF to a complex that now includes a production plant, warehouse, service center and Baldor's corporate headquarters.

"We can't keep up," says James Kimzey, Baldor's vice president of research and engineering. "It's getting more technical, and our clients are demanding more."

The project, which is being handled by Ware Construction Management Inc. of Fort Smith, will increase the size of the laboratory by 75 percent. That will allow the lab to house an additional $250,000 worth of test equipment.

"We couldn't keep up with it," Kimzey says of the lab's previous attempts to meet customer demands with the equipment available.

Building A Better Motor

Baldor, which produces and markets industrial electric motors, will be able to develop new products and improve the quality of its existing line thanks to the expansion, according to Roland S. Boreham Jr., the company's chairman and chief executive officer.

"There are a lot of reasons" for the expansion, Boreham says. "We're going to be |introducing~ new products, which will require a lot of lab work. We're also improving ... our old products.

"Some of our motors are custom designed. Most customers don't have a written design, so we have to work with them."

Baldor, which employs about 2,500 production personnel at 15 facilities worldwide, manufactures most of the components that go into its motors. The motors are used in everything from machine tools to medical equipment.

Baldor finished 1991 with $286.5 million in sales, down almost 3 percent from 1990's $294 million. The company's net earnings last year were $11,922,000, down 15.7 percent from the previous year.

Boreham says the recession year 1991 presented "a tough market environment for industry ... However, we continued to gain ground in the United States in customer preference and market share."

Last month's ground-breaking ceremony for the engineering lab celebrated just part of Baldor's growth. The company also is relocating a large motor production facility from Charlotte, N.C., to nearby York County, S.C.
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Title Annotation:Baldor Electric Co.
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 17, 1992
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