The message is simple and to the point:

“Along with the industry’s top manufacturers, our experienced (averaging over 20 years) and knowledgeable sales personnel are dedicated to quality, product, people, and service. In addition to continuing education, our sales staff receives special training and support from our suppliers. Working hand-in-hand, we want to be sure you get the right part — the first time!”

It seems simple enough. It is the credo of the Gopher Bearing Co., and it has a prominent position on the company’s home page at

The reason I’m talking about Gopher Bearing this week is because of a brief meeting I had recently with the company CEO, R.P. (Joe) Racine. Joe and I met at a Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) convention in Palm Desert, CA. We were touring the Marriott Desert Springs Resort and learning a bit about how equipment and supplies are inventoried and checked out at the facility.

Joe mentioned a point that I brought up in a seminar during the convention. I had spoken about the need for well-trained and professional HVACR technicians. He concurred that there was a need for experienced techs, and went one step further about professionalism.

To paraphrase Joe, he said that it is the “little things” that help technicians and mechanics look and act more professional. Then he showed me an example of what he meant.


Joe gave me an informational sheet, published by Gopher Bearing, which explained to users (in this case, mechanics) how to determine the length of a pulley belt based on the outside diameter of the driven pulley. The three-step process is clearly defined, including a mathematical formula for determining the belt length.

The information also includes how to determine the belt’s part number, once the belt has been identified. Again, a three-step process clearly spells out how to determine the part number. A large chart, which takes up most of the sheet, shows diameters and part numbers in a vertical and horizontal table format.

The handout also includes contact numbers and e-mail addresses for each of Gopher’s three locations. The upper left-hand corner reads “Compliments of: Gopher Bearing.”

Simple? Yes, even for a non-mechanically inclined person like myself to understand.


Joe told me that a simple piece of literature like this is enough to help a mechanic look more professional in the field and to get the correct part for the job.

Joe’s simple example got me thinking about the many aids like this that are available to HVACR technicians.

Besides building credibility with customers, being professional saves time and money, too. Joe said, “In our business, we know that ‘parts ain’t parts.’ A lower-priced V-belt might not have as many tension members, or an inferior cover, causing premature failure of the belt. That means the service mechanic has to return to the jobsite, and that means lost time and wages.”

Gopher Bearing is one example of a company doing the right thing. What is your company doing?

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 734-542-6214; 734-542-6215 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 10/07/2002