Keeping the mining industry in Motion

Motion Industries staff Paul Sadar, Daran Lutz, Jenn Pylkka, Steve Schutte, Rick Smith, Bill Gundy, Jim Pintar and Bob Newton pose outside the company's Mountain Iron building.

MOUNTAIN IRON — Motion Industries in Mountain Iron has a long and storied history in the area and offers a wealth of experience for their clients including several area mines.

Rick Smith, who has been the manager of the Mountain Iron branch for two and a half years and employed by the company for 21 years, said it is longevity that sets his crew apart from the competition.

“(Our) work experience averages 17 years in the mining industry. The longest (is) 31 years and shortest (is) one year,” Smith said.

And if that wasn’t enough, Smith and his cohorts have the backing of a corporate structure that features 550 branches across the country and a history dating back to 1946, when the roots of Motion Industries were formed in Birmingham, Ala.

Locally, the branch started as Wisconsin Bearing and then Berry Bearing (1993) in Buhl. They’ve been at their current location in Mountain Iron since 1985, Smith said.

Motion Industries is owned by Genuine Parts Company, with Motion operating the Industrial Parts Group and NAPA operating the Automotive Parts Group,” he added.

The branch has a total of eight employees including Smith; Operations Manager Daran Lutz; Warehouse Supervisor Bob Newton; Outside Sales Representative Paul Sadar; and Inside Sales Representatives Steve Schutte, Bill Gundy, Jennifer Pylkka and Jim Pintar.

According to the Motion Industries website, the company has a $691 million inventory, which offers customers of the business – regardless of where they are located – quick access to “seven million unique parts” sourced from a global manufacturing base.

The company boasts 150,000 customers across North America, including quite a few in northern Minnesota and the Mountain Iron branch, and offers a wide variety of products and services.

“Major products include bearings, mechanical power transmission products, industrial and safety supplies, hydraulic and pneumatic components, electrical and automation products, hydraulic and industrial hose and material handling products,” said Smith.

Other products and services include:

Abrasives, adhesives, sealants and tape, chemicals, lubricants and equipment, cutting tools, facility maintenance, hand and power tools, janitorial services, linear motion, pneumatics, process pumps, safety, seals, gaskets and accessories, and more.

The company also focuses on a “first responder mentality and a tradition of customer-first thinking.

According to the website, Motion Industries does not “hesitate to help a customer who needs a part at 1, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning,” adding that they will “ drive 500 miles in a night to get a plant out of a breakdown situation.

Smith said that is the same mentality locally.

“Our service capabilities include 24/7/365 product delivery, repair and fabrication, training programs, asset repair tracking, E-business Technologies and Inventory Management and Logistics,” Smith said.

While no expansion plans are in place at the moment, Smith said iron ore production was up in 2017 and hopefully the trend will continue to rise in the years to come.

Iron mining tends to run in cycles and production is near capacity right now, he added.

“The Iron Range is definitely a boom/bust economy. In the good times, suppliers benefit from added employment and purchases. On the other hand, suppliers are subject to layoffs, just like the mines,” Smith said. “It is important to keep your service levels high at all times and be prepared for all the turns and steep slopes of the mining roller coaster.”

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