Applied Power Products

Manufacturers in today’s economy look to their vendors and distributors to do more than just provide them with a single product and service. Engineering, design assistance, inventory management and other value-added supplier services are becoming more common for companies looking to increase their efficiencies and reduce their costs.

Applied Power Products’ product and service offering makes it an ideal partner for manufacturers needing to consolidate their vendor lists. “We have a very broad offering for manufacturers who are working on vendor reductions,” says Rich Qualheim, vice president of sales for the Eagan, Minn.-headquartered company. “There aren’t too many other single source distributors/fabricators out there that can match our diverse product offering.”

The company offers more than 10,000 SKUs across its five divisions:

    A power transmission division, which includes bearings, sprocket drives, belt drives, electric motors and gear reducers 
    A seals division, which encompasses o-rings and engineered seals as well as product identification labels and decals 
    A hose division, which includes industrial and hydraulic hoses up to 10 inches in diameter 
    A conveyor belt division that specializes in products specific to the grain industry
    A fabrication division, which offers die-cutting and water jet-cutting services 

 

In addition to its distribution and manufacturing capabilities, Applied Power Products is also capable of assisting its customers with product design, labeling, bar coding and identification. “We are called upon to work with customers and suppliers in a variety of ways,” General Manager Eric Volden says. 

The company’s diversity has helped it attain steady sales growth for much of its history. “We have a steady and consistent growth pattern going back to the 1990s,” Volden adds. “In the last 20 years, we’ve only had two instances where our gross profit has been less than what it was the previous year.

“Another key to that growth pattern was the decision to get serious about quality control, become ISO-9001 certified, and use that platform to drive improvement,” Volden says. “This enabled incremental growth with existing customers and improved our ability to attract new customers.”

 ‘A Who’s Who’

Applied Power Products serves OEM customers in multiple markets including construction, agricultural, forest, semiconductor, telecommunications and building maintenance. “Our top-20 customers read like a who’s who of the companies that build equipment and install conveying systems,” Volden says.

Products manufactured and distributed by the company are designed and specified by internationally recognized OEMs and exported globally. “Our products end up going all over the world,” Qualheim says. 

Applied Power Products operates two facilities. The company’s headquarters and warehouse in Eagan, Minn., handles the distribution of seals, hose assemblies, power transmission products and conveyor belt-related products. A 70,000-square-foot facility in Lakeville, Minn., houses die-cutting, water jet fabrication, molded and extruded parts operations. The Lakeville facility is capable of manufacturing products from more than 200 different types of materials. 

Lines of Communication

The company works with a number of vendors to source the products it manufactures and distributes. “We maintain a high level of contact with our suppliers,” owner Bruce Lundeen says. “We regularly visit their plants, and they visit ours – we keep the lines of communication open.”

Applied Power Products works with vendors to source materials and products on a just-in-time basis. The company’s customers, in turn, expect the same sort of timely delivery. “Our approach is to do whatever it takes to facilitate our customers’ just-in-time system, with an emphasis on rapid timelines,” Volden adds. 

The company works with carriers specified by its customers to deliver parts and components when applicable, and uses outside ground or airfreight companies as needed.

Investing in Efficiency

Applied Power Products invests heavily in technology that helps it maintain close contact with customers and keep its internal operations efficient. “We’ve made investments into the company that enable us to do things more efficiently,” Lundeen says.

The company uses a variety of electronic portals to communicate with customers. Applied Power Products receives and transmits most of its orders through an electronic data interchange (EDI)-capable system. “The thing that makes me most proud is how fluid and adaptable we’ve become in matching customers’ wants and needs,” Volden says. “We are able to communicate within the supply chain on a multitude of levels including customer service, quality control and all the way down to production employees.”

The company also recently added a document management system that can scan, recover and track documents electronically. “We’re becoming more of a paperless company,” Volden says. “This system puts all documents in front of all employees on their computers instead of placing them out of sight in file cabinets.”

Other internal investments include a barcoding system purchased following the 2008 economic downturn that help the company better track and move products, and ShopFloor, an ERP module that allows it to route every part it manufactures. 

The recent addition of an optical comparator will help the company maintain and improve its manufacturing quality. The comparator machine uses an optical laser to trace the surface of a part, which is then compared to a customer’s AutoCAD drawing. 

Past and Present

Applied Power Products traces its history back to early the 1920s, when the F.H. Bathke Co., a welding, gas and electrical distributor, was founded in Minnesota. 

The company entered the industrial conveyor belt market shortly afterward, Vice President of Operations Steve McMeen says.  

The Bathke Co.’s entry into the industrial conveyor belt market was the precursor of the company’s venturing into the die cutting business, as conveyor belt remnants were die-cut into a wide variety of applications. In the mid 1970’s the Bathke Company purchased the Miller Sales Company, launching it into the seal distribution business.

The belting portion of F.H. Bathke’s business grew steadily over the years, culminating in it becoming a Goodyear conveyor belt distributor in 1950. The company currently is Goodyear’s largest distributor of grain belting in North America. F.H. Bathke’s power transmission business, seals, conveyor belt and die-cutting operations were purchased in 1988 by Walt Lundeen, Bruce Lundeen’s father, who at the time was the company’s president. The company changed its name to Applied Power Products shortly thereafter. 

Several of the company’s current employees date back to its previous name and ownership. One employee has been with the company for 55 years, and he is Applied Power Products’s oldest employee at 95, Lundeen notes.

Volden attributes the company’s high level of retention to its positive, family oriented atmosphere. 

“Our ability to adapt and be flexible and fluid in meeting our customers’ needs all comes from the people who work here,” he adds. “We’re proud that we create a good place to work and that people want to stay here.”

Current Issue

Check out our latest Edition!

 

jim editor wdi

Contact Us

Wholesale and Distribution International

150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60601
312.676.1100  312.676.1101

Click here for a full list of contacts.

Latest Edition

Spread The Love

Back To Top