Regal Beloit celebrates 40th anniversary in Cassville
What makes a company last 40-plus years in today's competitive marketplace?
For Regal in Cassville, which specializes in making motors and blowers, it's product development, innovation and efficiency.
As a result, the company, previously known as Fasco, plans to celebrate a 40-year-long stretch of success in industry next month.
On Saturday, the company will host a picnic for employees and the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the picnic, tours of the facility will be offered, along with a game of horseshoes, bean bag toss and a bouncy house for children. From 10 a.m. to noon, music will be provided by Final Destination, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a cookout, and from noon to 2 p.m., music will be provided by Ozark Mountain Revival.
Fasco came to Cassville in 1975, and the name stood for the initials of the owner, Fred A. Smith, but the company has a much longer history of innovation, and as a division of Regal Beloit, continues that tradition still today.
In 1911, the Fred A. Smith MFG Company in Rochester, N.Y., was established, making parking lamps, vases, plugs, cigarette lighters, gaslight and mantle fixtures, bicycle and motorcycle lamps, tail lights and other practical items for everyday use and industry.
In 1928, the company sold the first hydraulic stoplight switches to Jordan Car Company and Chrysler Corporation. In 1933, Smith went into motor manufacturing, when the company made the first shaded pole motor. In 1934, the first blower, a coal burner pilot, was made. Smith also started selling a two-pole motors used on fans to manufacturers.
In 1942, during World War II, Smith manufactured bomb nose plugs for incendiary bombs, ammunition, shell, oxygen pressure switch, Mark XVIII gunsights, aircraft motors and torpedo steering motors and alternators. In 1943, Smith made stub lathes and the first trade use of Fasco.
After a long history of producing a lion's share of timely, innovative products, the company migrated to Missouri, building a plant in Ozark in 1965 to house its motor division, the same year it produced the first neutral-start transmission switch for Chrysler. In 1974, construction began on plants in Cassville and Eldon, and in 1976, an addition was built at both plants to warehouse distributor motors.
"We still have and sell the Fasco brand name," said Carol Craig, human resources specialist at Regal. "So, it's kind of a brand for Regal."
In 2007, Fasco was acquired by Regal Beloit.
Mike Atwood, plant manager for Regal Beloit since 2007, helps everything run like clockwork.
"I make sure the right resources are in place so people have what they need to get the job done," he said. "Regal makes motors primarily. But here in Cassville, we make blowers that move air. A lot of them are used on boilers for heat and things like wood stoves. The other thing we do here is make a lot of parts that are used in our sister plants in Piedras-Negras, Mexico, and those parts primarily go into motors and some other blowers."
Atwood said product development has been key to the company's success.
"There were some really good products developed, things that no one else had," he said. "Over the years, they were focused on efficiency and improvement."
Engineering Manager Bob Garrison, who has been with the company over 40 years, remembers some of the advancements.
"We developed the first furnace draft inducer in 1981," he said. "It draws the flue gases through the heat exchange of a furnace and makes it more efficient."
"In 1992, the Department of Energy passed legislation making it mandatory to certify efficiency in furnaces, so we were right there," Atwood said. "So, all the big HVAC companies wanted what we had and from there, and it just took off. From there, we developed more versions that had more efficiency."
Innovation has been another key to success. A hallway in the 233,000-square-foot facility is lined with patents -- over 65 of them -- to prove it.
"That's also part of why we've been successful, having that intellectual property that others couldn't copy," Atwood said.
Regal Beloit can even make products quieter with a specially-insulated room, called an anechoic sound chamber, that absorbs reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves.
"You can see what kind of noise and where the frequencies are to change it," Garrison said. "A customer will tell you that cost, efficiency and sound are the most important things."
"There are a lot of things that go into making a product," Atwood said. "We do motor testing, then it will go onto the blower after it is assembled, then a wind tunnel test will be done to make sure the air performance is correct."
The Cassville plant produces about 3,500 blowers a day.
"The people here are really knowledgeable and experienced hard workers," Atwood said. "Our average seniority is 17 years so our employees here have a lot of experience building blowers."
"I think working here is like a home away from home for employees," said Craig, who worked in production for 10 years before transferring to human resources. "You have a really good work environment and coworkers. You put in good wages and benefit package, and people are just satisfied.
"We take pride in our product and what we do. I think that makes us strong and to still be in operation after 40 years."
Over the years, the company has been involved in many community projects, such as donating and planting many of the trees that helped landscape Cassville's Aquatic Center and park area, sponsoring youth ball teams and participating in scholarship programs and recycling projects.
Looking forward, the company intends to continue its long-held tradition and history of innovation.
"It's very competitive out there," Atwood said. "Regal's Cassville location does very well. I think we still make solid contributions to the company and we try to take care of our sister plants so they can take care of the customers.
"There are a lot of new products that are being developed by the engineering team here, so I think continued product development and the people will continue to be strengths, and I think we'll be around for awhile."
For more information about Regal Beloit, people may call 417-847-4775.