What can be said about Gerd Krohn and his 16 years as president of Jeffrey Chain? In today’s volatile business world, in which company presidents sometimes last no more than six months, such longevity is remarkable. But for Jeffrey Chain, the recognized global leader in chain manufacturing, Krohn’s tenure is symbolic of a long, strong link between a successful past and a promising future – like the links in the chains the company produces.
Headquartered in Morristown, Tenn., Jeffrey Chain has more than 100 years of tradition in engineering expertise, system design and problem solving. The 200,000 square-foot facility accommodates the expansive, modern manufacturing plant, the well-equipped research-and-development laboratory and the staff offices.
Not only does Jeffrey Chain provide quality chain products and accessories, but also immediate and accessible technical assistance for its customers. “Our complete line of conveying, elevating and drive chains at Jeffrey Chain today is the result of years of research and development,” says Mike Pelehach, executive vice president. “With many sizes available and each product designed to fit a specific need, it is never necessary to compromise a particular chain application.”
Working with Whitney
Begun as a coal machinery manufacturer, Jeffrey Manufacturing Company saw that it needed heavy-duty chains to drive its coal-cutting machines. When the company couldn’t find chains from a component manufacturer, founder Joseph A. Jeffrey designed and manufactured his own. He patented his steel thimble roller (STR) drive chains in Columbus, Ohio, in 1887. News of the chain’s success spread to other industries, requests for the product poured in and a new industry was born.
More chain products followed as Jeffrey Manufacturing developed more process machinery. These chains were specifically designed to solve a problem or to answer a need. Over the years, Jeffrey Chain (as the company later become known) has designed and manufactured chains for many industries, including foundry, sanitation, cement, pulp and paper, lumber, steel, automotive, food handling, mining, bulk handling, leisure, printing and transportation. “It’s hard to believe that a product with such a humble beginning is such a vital part of today’s economy,” says Pelehach. “We impact virtually every industry imaginable.”
In 1973, Jeffrey Chain acquired Whitney Chain and Manufacturing Company and its line of Whitney precision roller chains. Whitney Chain and Manufacturing was founded by Clarence Whitney in Hartford, Conn., in 1896. He was the son of Amos Whitney, co-founder of Pratt & Whitney, the major manufacturer of aircraft engines. In the time since the two companies joined forces, Whitney has become the roller-chain standard in construction equipment, packaging machinery, machine tools and assembly lines.
Whitney Chain attachments are made to the same demanding standards and dimensional accuracy as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) roller chains. The popular bent-lug and extended-pin configurations are stocked and assembled into chains for individual conveying applications. Stainless steel or plated attachment chains are available on request.
“Our Whitney Chain line includes precision roller chains, hydro service chains, attachment chains, hollow pin chains, maintenance-free self-lubricated roller chains, ANSI double-pitch conveyor chains, precision conveyor chains and power transmission chains,” says Pelehach.
In addition, Jeffrey Chain produces special environmental products including stainless steel collector and drive chains, water and wastewater components, non-metallic chains, cast and welded steel collector chains, and sprockets.
“The main thrust behind the long, successful tradition of Jeffrey and Whitney products has been quality and innovation,” says Pelehach. “Understanding customers’ needs is the foundation of finding solutions for their specific applications. Jeffrey and Whitney are engineering- and solutions-driven, viewing each customer and their needs individually. You can’t develop cookie-cutter products because each customer faces different environments and conditions.”
The major sales channels for Jeffrey and Whitney into the market are industrial distribution and original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Jeffrey Chain has a distribution network that spans North America, offering quality products, engineering know-how and custom service on a local basis.
The company’s key national distributors are Applied Industrial Technologies and Motion Industries, while Munnell and Sherrill, Trans Ply, A-C Supply and others do plenty of business on a regional or local level by stocking and promoting Jeffrey and Whitney chains to their customer bases. According to Pelehach, Jeffrey Chain district sales managers train and work with distributor-partners to take care of customers as individuals, to keep their operations running smoothly.
“Many equipment manufacturers specify Jeffrey and Whitney as their chains of choice,” says Pelehach. Jeffrey is, in fact, the major supplier of chains to many industries, including construction equipment, food-processing equipment, packaging machinery, grain conveying, mining equipment, automotive and bulk handling equipment.
Last April, Renold plc, headquartered in Manchester, England, purchased Jeffrey Chain Corporation. Renold is the premier manufacturer of roller chains in Europe, with sales and service offices throughout the world.
Renold, which manufactures primarily transmission and conveyor chains in its facilities, purchased Jeffrey to round out its manufacturing base and to gain a stronger presence in the North American market. The purchase of Jeffrey provides Renold with a solid base of customers to promote its vast array of products in North America, and it gives Jeffrey Chain a global sales force to solidify its international presence.
“New markets for Jeffrey will largely come about as a result of international opportunities,” says Pelehach. “While we are already providing products to many industries, technologies in other countries are different. We will learn from those technologies and apply global expertise to develop new products to satisfy customer needs.”
Jeffrey plans to continue to expand its distributor network by developing new products and technologies to introduce to the market. This comes in the form of new raw materials and platings, heat treating, manufacturing techniques and processes. The company has developed new products for corrosive, outdoor and harsh environments, including chains that do not require lubrication. Finally, Jeffrey has debuted “superduty” chains that have higher strength and fatigue ratings.
“Jeffrey Chain is an innovator, using our engineering pedigree, experience and problem-solving capabilities to keep moving the industry forward,” says Pelehach. “The foundation of our company is our core values of integrity, trust, quality and partnering, which have been adopted by our employees. They really give us a competitive advantage so that we can do what we are in business to do: Take care of our customers.”