Phila. Gear Corp. being sold for $200M

Posted: May 28, 2011

Philadelphia Gear Corp., a link to the city's early-20th-century status as an industrial powerhouse, is being sold for $200 million to Timken, an Ohio firm.

"It really is a growth story," Carl D. Rapp, Philadelphia Gear's chief executive, said in a telephone interview. Rapp has a contract to remain at the company along with his management team.

Philadelphia Gear's office and technical center will remain in King of Prussia, where about 40 work, he said.

Philadelphia Gear, which specializes in servicing gear drives for energy, industrial, and marine markets, had $85 million in sales in the 12 months ended in March and employs 220. Timken, which is based in Canton, had $4.1 billion in sales last year.

Timken, which makes bearings and steel alloys, said the combination would help both firms expand overseas. Chris Coughlin, head of Timken's process industries segment, described Philadelphia Gear as an "excellent fit" with Timken in a news release.

Nearly a quarter of Philadelphia Gear's revenue comes from outside the United States, mostly from Latin America and the Middle East, Rapp said. "Timken has a much stronger presence in Southeast Asia," he said.

Philadelphia Gear, founded in 1892 to serve the steel and coal industries, exited most manufacturing about a decade ago, tearing down its landmark factory along the Schuylkill Expressway in King of Prussia and replacing it with a Home Depot.

Instead of sometimes taking years to design and make metal gears up to 16 feet in diameter, the company has focused on inspecting and repairing gearboxes at five sites around the country, including one in New Castle, Del.

The company's manufacturing side got a boost last year when it won an $80.2 million Navy contract for the main gears between the turbine and the propeller on three new Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers.

Philadelphia Gear has been owned since 1920 by the Ball family, currently through Wind River Holdings L.P., which is headed by Russell C. Ball III and owns five additional companies.

Philadelphia Gear was not put up for sale. "It was a targeted acquisition by Timken," Rapp said.


Philadelphia Gear

Founded: 1892.

Headquarters: King of Prussia.

Ownership: The Ball family, since 1920.

Business: Services gear drives.

Industries served: Include mining, steel, petroleum refining, water management, chemical and power generation.

Annual revenue:

$85 million.

Employees: 220.

SOURCE: Timken Co.


Contact staff writer Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or hbrubaker@phillynews.com.

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