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Employee Spotlight: Darin Olson

March 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

                Meet Darin Olson, an energetic and enthusiastic member of the team in the Parts Department at ZBAG for nearly two years.

“We pull parts for orders that come from the sales staff and from builders,” Darin explained. He ships out products ranging from manual transmissions to rear differential kits. “We take ‘will-calls’ for people who are coming in to pick up parts. We do stock orders that consist of lots of parts that are sent out together.” These orders can include items like bearings, gaskets, gears, and kits for front and rear differentials and transfer cases. Darin takes phone calls from the office letting him know when someone is dropping off a unit to be repaired, picking up a unit, or dropping off a core.

Darin came to ZBAG from the construction industry, where he did roofing, framing, and windows. He has always worked on his own motorized equipment, such as snowmobiles, four-wheelers and dirt bikes. He hopes to get a truck someday, probably a Chevy, since they’re easy to work on. “I’ve always been a Dale Earnhardt fan,” he commented. “He was a Chevy guy.”

Away from work, Darin likes to be outdoors. He likes fishing area streams for trout, and enjoys hunting pheasants and deer.  “I just picked up bow hunting, and got rid of my guns,” he said.

Last year Darin and his family adopted a dog, Miley, from a family who was abandoning her. “She’s the most obedient dog I’ve ever seen,” he remarked. “She’ll be a good bird dog, I think, but I haven’t tried her out.”

While at work in the Parts Department, Darin will continue to do an excellent job of serving the customers’ needs, whether for a complete unit or parts for that particular rear differential or transfer case.

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Maintaining Your AWD or 4WD Vehicle

February 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Owners of four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles have vehicles that serve them well during challenging driving conditions. Along with the ownership comes the added responsibility to keep the drivetrain systems in good running order.

Galen Neuzil, one of the customer service representative here at ZBAG, has some advice he likes to share.

“For any AWD or other torque-on-demand system, if you’re having a drivability issue, one of the first things to do is check on the tires,” Galen says. “The best test for this is to mark all four tires in the six o’clock position (so you have a mark on the sidewall of each tire pointing at the ground), then have someone watch one wheel and count rotations while you roll the vehicle in a straight line, for ten rotations. Stop with one tire at the six o’clock position. Now, go and inspect the other three tires. The variance of the marks should not be more than one and a half inches from the original six o’clock position.”

If the variation is more, it may be due to tire wear, tire condition, or tire pressure. The cause needs to be remedied, and here’s why.

“In these style vehicles, the transfer cases are designed to keep all four tires turning equally,” Galen explains. “Usually, if the tires are worn more than one and a half inches, the transfer case will be trying to equalize the rotation. If it can’t perform that operation, the mechanics of the transfer case can be severely worn or damaged. The further the tires are off, the sooner the damage can occur.

“If you do the test and the tires are off, the first thing to do would be to check the tire pressure. The person with a slow leak who adds air every couple weeks might be doing damage to the transfer case.”

“If you don’t rotate your tires,” Galen continues, “the wear between the fronts and rears can be substantial, and that could be a cause for eventual problems.”

Another tip Galen offers is to make sure the transfer case fluid is checked regularly. “Be sure it’s full and the fluid is in good condition,” he adds. “If the fluid is dark and smells burnt, it’s an indication of stress or damage in the unit.”

Galen notes that most car service technicians go through the proper servicing procedures to keep your vehicle’s transfer case running properly, but it’s also important for you, the owner, to read the owner’s manual.

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All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive: how are they different?

February 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

Are you the owner of a car or SUV with four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD)?  Vehicles with these two types of drive trains are becoming more readily available from most car manufacturers.

The terms 4WD and AWD are often used interchangeably, but they don’t refer to the same type of power train.

4WD refers to a system where your vehicle runs with two-wheel drive under normal road conditions. If you drive in a difficult situation, such as ice, snow and mud, you can engage the transfer case to activate 4WD. The power is now transmitted to the road by all four wheels, which helps negotiate extreme conditions.

If your vehicle is AWD, it is one of two types: full time AWD or automatic AWD.

Full time AWD vehicles have a differential inside the transfer case which normally gives the same amount of power to all four wheels. When slipping occurs, a coupling device or clutch unites the front and rear drive shafts to keep torque flowing to the axle with traction.

The automatic AWD may or may not have a differential in the transfer case. In normal driving conditions, it only sends power to two wheels, just as any other two-wheel drive car. As long as all four wheels turn at the same speed, the control system is inactive. When it senses a loss of traction in a powered wheel, it connects the inactive drive shaft to the powered drive shaft so all four tires get some traction.

Both 4WD and AWD are valuable features to help drivers safely get to their destinations. Please note that although both will give increased traction on a slippery surface, neither helps with braking and turning. These systems require care and maintenance, so check your owner’s manual to learn what is needed to keep your particular system in prime operating condition.

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Employee Spotlight: Damien Selvy

January 31st, 2017 · No Comments

Miata                Damian Selvy has been a member of ZBAG’s technical team for a year. He trained with Taylor to build transfer cases, starting with the GM 246, then 263’s and 261’s, which are also GM transfer cases. Damien enjoys his work here, although he came without much previous mechanical experience.

“I always liked wrenching with my dad as a kid,” he recalled. Although the family lived in town, Damien and his dad would work on tractors at his grandparents’ farm. Damien went to college for a year, and worked at various jobs before coming to ZBAG.

A few months ago, Damien achieved a longtime goal: he bought a Mazda Miata M edition.  “I’ve wanted one since I was fifteen,” he said. “The guys around here give me crap about it because it’s not big and American.” He grinned. “I know an incredible amount of Miata facts.”

For example, Damien explained, the reason the Miatas are such good sports cars is the way they’re balanced. Fifty percent of the weight is in front and fifty percent is in back, so they have very neutral handling. “That’s what makes it so good in the snow,” he said. “It has rear wheel drive, but I haven’t been stuck yet, because of the equal weight distribution.” His Miata M is a custom blue with a brown rag top and a special interior that features a Nardi shift knob and emergency brake handle, both made of wood.

Damien also spends time riding his motorcycle. It’s a crotch rocket, a Honda CBR600RR, and he likes to ride it on back roads. “It’s freeing,” he said. “It’s just you and yourself, which gives you time to think.”

In ZBAG’s shop Damien gets a lot of satisfaction building the high quality GM transfer cases that our customers have come to expect.

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Employee Spotlight: Dave Feidt, Sr.

January 17th, 2017 · No Comments

DaveFsr                Meet an integral part of Zumbrota Bearing and Gear’s shop team: Dave Feidt, Sr. specializes in building transfer cases. He joined the crew over a year ago, after his son, ZBAG employee Dave Feidt, Jr. told him it was a good place to work.

Dave brought a wide range of work experience with him. Many years ago, he earned his two-year diploma in marine and small engine repair. While he took the classes, he worked full time at a snowmobile shop. He then spent time at a marine business that specialized in boats and snowmobiles.  Later he worked at a plastic factory where he did assembly work, and a bus company where he did refurbishing as well as mechanical and body repairs. Other job stints included a pop can manufacturing company, a turkey producer, a milling company, and Dave also worked as a punch press operator for a furniture manufacturer.

When Dave was hired to work in ZBAG’s shop, Taylor Marsh got him started by training him to build 246 transfer cases. He has since moved on to building several other types of transfer cases.

Being a Minnesota guy, Dave enjoys spending time during the winter months riding his snowmobiles on local trails.  He adds that he also ends up spending time working on them.  During the warmer months, he uses a four-wheeler, a Polaris 2X4 350. “It’s a workhorse,” he said. “I pull a trailer and haul wood with it.”

Dave has discovered a creative pastime he enjoys. He welds lawn ornaments out of scrap metal. He’s put together creations such as flowers, birds and peacocks.  So far family members have become the owners of the ornaments, but Dave has been told he should go into the lawn ornament business.

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Employee Spotlight: Mike O’Reilly

January 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

mikeo            Mike O’Reilly is a builder in ZBAG’s shop who specializes in rebuilt transmissions. When he first started working here three years ago, he built transfer cases, and then went on to rebuilding six-speed transmissions, beginning with the NV5600 for the Dodge three-quarter ton trucks. “Now they’ve got me producing rebuilt transmissions for the Ford F150 and the Ranger,” Mike said. “I do the Dodge G56, too.”

Mike came to ZBAG with some mechanical experience in his background. He worked on basic car maintenance as a kid. “I had wrenching experience, you could say,” he noted with a grin. He worked as a millwright, fabricating grain equipment and also worked in the flooring industry before he began producing rebuilt transmissions and transfer cases here at ZBAG.

Mike spends his free time on outdoor activities all year long. “I like walleye and crappie fishing,” he commented, “mainly in the winter.” He uses a portable ice shack for shelter. Mike usually makes the six-hour trip to fish on Lake of the Woods on the Canadian border three or four times each winter. He also fishes in the Faribault area.

Hunting is another pastime Mike enjoys, whether it’s pheasant, deer, or water fowl. He likes to have a good stock of venison sausage and jerky on hand. During the summer, Mike and his family spend time camping. “As long as I’m outside, I’m happy,” he said.

And at work, Mike’s dedication is noteworthy. He’s often one of the first builders to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. He is particular about assembling each rebuilt transmission according to exact specifications, and his dedication is not unusual at ZBAG. The high standards and strong work ethic translate to the superior quality products that originate here.

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Kenny’s Pulling Parts, Waynesburg, KY

December 27th, 2016 · 1 Comment

kennys-pulling-parts            Kenny’s Pulling Parts and Machine in Waynesburg, KY, a frequent customer of ZBAG, is a business with a far-reaching reputation. They supply custom engine and drivetrain parts to tractor and truck pullers all over the United States, and ship to some in Canada.

Typical customers of Kenny’s are looking for things like clutch assemblies and rear end parts for open drivetrain components to be used in tractors and 3.0 or 3.6 diesel trucks. According to Dustin, the company spokesman, all the products they sell are built in their shop in Waynesburg by four employees. They build axles, spools, and complete rear ends for the competitive pullers, and will do custom design work as needed.

When the business started about 14 years ago, most of their customers were tractor pullers, Dustin said, but in the last five or six years, the diesel truck stuff has really taken off.  “We’re pretty much a manufacturer of high performance drivetrain components, and do a lot of clutch assemblies and flywheels. That’s what got us started,” he explained. “Most of the stuff we do is shipped out,” he added. “We do more business out of the state than in the state.”

They are currently getting parts together to take to a big indoor pulling event at Gordyville, located in Gifford, IL, in January.  The guys at Kenny’s are also working on a competition diesel truck. “We’re building it to use for advertising,” Dustin explained, “and we’re using our parts in it to see how they work and how we can improve them.” The body is a ’78 Super Cab Ford, and they’re building it to run in the 3.0 diesel class. “I used to have tractors that I pulled,” Dustin remarked, “but this is my first pulling truck.”

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Employee Spotlight: Michael Johnson

November 30th, 2016 · No Comments

michael                Michael Johnson joined the ZBAG team in the maintenance department two years ago. His enthusiasm for his workplace is as strong as when he started. Although Michael is officially in maintenance, “anything and everything” is an accurate job description.

Michael put in an application at ZBAG because he knew a couple people who worked here, and he had heard it was a good place to work. He spends some time doing actual maintenance, and several other  tasks in various departments.

“It’s amazing what a guy can learn, working here,” Michael said. “I didn’t know anything about a manual transmission and didn’t know what a transfer case was, before I came here,” he added. “I do different things all the time.”

Michael spends time pulling parts as well as putting parts away when extra help is needed. He especially enjoys working with the bearings. He lends a hand in shipping, and at the end of every day, he closes down the wash bay. “That’s probably my favorite part of the job,” he remarked.

When not at work, Michael likes to be outdoors, especially hunting. “Hunting, that’s my life,” he said. Deer, squirrel, pheasants, whatever is in season is fair game. He and his family like to eat venison burgers and sausage. “My dad cooks squirrels and pheasants,” Michael commented. “I don’t know exactly what he does, but they taste amazing.” Campfires are also high on the list of favorite activities. Michael’s favorite season is fall, which he calls “sweatshirt weather.”

Although Michael doesn’t build transfer cases or differentials, he keeps the equipment running so the builders can do their work, and is a valued part of the support staff. And he’s figured out the most important task:  “making the boss happy, there you go!”

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Employee Spotlight: Steve Goldammer

November 23rd, 2016 · No Comments

steveg                Steve Goldammer never rebuilt a manual transmission or transfer case, but he plays an important part in serving ZBAG’s customers. Steve and Al share the 75-mile circuit around Zumbrota, making deliveries to ZBAG customers.

Steve came to ZBAG by an adventurous route that involved three challenging jobs, which all helped to equip him to navigate Minnesota’s freeways with ease and style.

“I started out my career as a smoke jumper,” Steve explained. Most of his smoke jumping took place in Alaska, and required rigorous physical training, learning to parachute and learning to fight fires. It was exciting. “I learned to love to fly,” Steve said, “so I went to the Navy to learn to become a pilot.” He piloted a P3 Orion with a 14-member crew that flew all over the world hunting Russian submarines. Steve’s Navy career started during the Vietnam era, and he served 23 and a half years.

While still enlisted in the Navy, Steve had a hankering for another career: he wanted to be a minister. So he transferred to Navy Reserves and attended seminary in Iowa, then pastored Lutheran congregations in Minnesota for 22 years. “I was in the active reserves,” Steve commented. “I would get called to go places—Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Spain, South America.”

“It came time to retire, and I can’t not work,” Steve said. He started at ZBAG as a fill-in driver and did long delivery trips when Al was injured. Later, they established their 75-mile day route. Steve and Al still share the responsibilities of that route.

If you need a unit or parts for a unit, whether a rebuilt transmission or other drivetrain component, there’s a good chance Steve will deliver it to you if you live within 75 miles of Zumbrota.

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Employee Spotlight: Al Bryczek

October 26th, 2016 · No Comments

albryczek                Al Bryczek has worked for ZBAG 15 years, and he puts most of his time in on the road, making deliveries and bringing back cores for transmissions, transfer cases and differentials. Al and another driver share duties on a circuit that’s about 75 miles and do daily routes serving area customers.

Things were different when Al first started working with ZBAG. He made trips that kept him out on the road for two or three nights a week. “Originally, we did six states,” he recalled. He would set out with a pickup load of units to deliver, and he would come home with a load of cores for transfer cases and other units. “I like driving,” he remarked. He came to ZBAG with experience as a mechanic and parts store manager.

Al liked traveling in the days when he made the overnight trips. “I enjoyed getting out in the Dakotas,” he commented. “I saw a lot of interesting stuff.”  But northern Minnesota can’t be beat as a place to visit, he added.

Al works four days a week, although in the winter, he’ll work five days if needed. During fishing season he spends most weekends in northern Minnesota on Lake Miltona, a great location for walleye fishing. “We try to go every weekend from May to October,” Al said. “We maybe miss three or four weekends during that time.”

Along with fishing, Al keeps busy at the bar that he and his wife own in a nearby community. “My wife runs the bar, I’m just the maintenance man,” he explained.

If your business is in the area, watch for Al to come by in his white Dodge pickup, delivering your drivetrain components and picking up cores for transmissions, differentials and transfer cases.

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