When Palmer Johnson Power Systems decided it was time to move out of its cramped, leased facility into a purpose-built plant it wasn't interested in settling for an off-the-shelf industrial building.
Palmer Johnson hired Potter Lawson Inc., a Madison, WI-based team of architects, to design a facility with which employees and customers would be proud to be associated, inside and out.
The employees themselves were an integral part of the building's design process and were asked to help lay out their work stations. They also pitched in to help move equipment — performed so work was disrupted as little as possible — and in landscaping the park-like grounds.
Palmer Johnson moved into its new 65,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Sun Prairie, WI, last fall. The largest portion is the 50,000 sq. ft. shop designed for heavy-duty transmission and axle remanufacturing and service. The facility is also home to a 10,000 sq. ft. machining center (run as a separate entity within Palmer Johnson, it does work for internal projects as well as outside customers), and the firm's administrative headquarters. Offices overlook wildlife-rich wetlands, while the spacious shop floor ensures rebuilds are performed efficiently and effectively.
"It's not the building or its overhead cranes or its test stands that are going to drive customers to this new facility," says Craig Parsons, general manager, during the ribbon cutting ceremony. "It's the skills, talents and dedication of this great team of Palmer Johnson employees."
Palmer Johnson helps with service after the sale by designing, implementing and managing turn-key transmission and axle remanufacturing programs for equipment manufacturers. Components have a 12-month warranty backed by Palmer Johnson. The firm also offers OEMs a plug-in service network. Field service trucks operate from 12 service centers across the country, providing 24-hour assistance.
Current customers include OEMs such as John Deere, Caterpillar, CNH, AGCO and Komatsu, while component suppliers include heavy-duty off-highway transmissions and axles from Twin Disc, ZF, AxleTech, Eaton, Carraro and Funk.
Palmer Johnson operates its remanufacturing programs as an extension of the OEMs, working with them to design a program incorporating their unique objectives. "We'll structure the remanufacturing program to suit the OEM's needs," says Parsons."
For an OEM, such a program can help keep a "consistent, quality product out in the field," says Eric Quinn, vice president, business development. "We help the OEM build brand equity by ensuring the integrity of the product in the field. We use 100% genuine OEM parts."
Palmer Johnson tests units to factory specifications and performs updates to the hardware or software. "The OEM knows the remanufactured part is going back to the customer with the specifications it has designed into the part. It helps build brand loyalty." If people hear a certain machine is difficult to get repaired or the service is poor, they typically only think of the brand, not who is doing the repair work.
In January, Palmer Johnson installed a new ZF test stand that allows its technicians to work with engineers in Germany in real time. The latest updates can also be downloaded from Germany onto the transmission's ECU in Sun Prairie, ensuring that the rebuilt transmission is in many ways better than it was when it was new.
The ZF test stand brings the number of test stands in place in Sun Prairie up to six. The company has more than 25 spread out over its various facilities.