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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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Employee spotlight: John Gates

October 11th, 2016 · No Comments

johngates                When John Gates came to ZBAG a year and a half ago, he brought a wide range of employment experience with him. He currently builds manual transmissions, specializing in ZFs and Dodge 5600s.

John worked as a diesel mechanic for nine years, but also worked in a broad range of other jobs. “I’ve done everything from construction to computer work to the mechanical field,” John said. “I worked in the Twin Cities for years.” John doesn’t miss commuting to the metro area. One of the reasons he came to ZBAG is that it’s close to home.

After spending his days building manual transmissions, John occasionally works on his own car, or a friend’s, but prefers to spend his time on other interests. “I’m into hunting and fishing—that’s what I prefer to do,” he commented.

John owns a snowmobile, and says he uses it mainly to pull his portable fish house to locations for ice fishing. He has a cabin up north for fishing all year, and enjoys going to the Faribault area lakes as well. Walleyes and crappies are the fish John likes to go after, but he’ll fish for whatever is biting. John often cooks and eats the fish he catches. As a rule he fries or bakes them.

During hunting season, John does some deer hunting, but he especially enjoys hunting geese. After the hunt, John enjoys cooking what he’s bagged. If he doesn’t cook it himself, he will have other people deal with the meat for him. “I had a locker plant make up some goose brats, and they’re really good,” he commented.

While here at ZBAG John, and the other rebuilders  produce quality rebuilt manual transmissions for all makes and models.

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Employee spotlight: Chris Schmidt

October 4th, 2016 · No Comments

chris-schmidt                When you order a rebuilt manual transmission or other driveline component from ZBAG, Chris Schmidt probably plays a part in getting it to you. Chris is part of the warehouse team and specializes in forklift work.

Chris started out in shipping, then went to the warehouse, “because I was interested in variety, and I don’t mind getting dirty,” he laughed.

“I deal with a lot of the cores that come in,” Chris explained, “making sure they’re tagged, putting them away, that sort of thing.” In addition to managing the cores for differentials, transfer cases, and manual transmissions, he helps builders by locating and delivering the specific core needed for a manual transmission or other unit that a customer has ordered.

Chris works on his own vehicles when he needs to. “I’ve got basic automotive knowledge to get me by,” he grinned. But making music is one of the ways he prefers to spend his free time.

“I play bass in a band,” Chris said. Known as “Luke ‘n’ Bob Texas” the group specializes in traditional country and honky-tonk, although they play stuff that’s more modern, too. “That’s my main pastime when I’m not at work,” Chris remarked. The group performs in northern Iowa and western Wisconsin as well as all over southern Minnesota.

Chris spends time hunting and fishing, too. This year he enjoyed fishing at the mouth of the Cannon River, catching walleye and smallmouth bass. Firearms are another interest: anything from a shotgun to a handgun to a BB gun. He hunts ducks, upland game, deer and grouse. When he has a chance, he does some target shooting.

While at ZBAG, Chris enjoys operating the forklift and supplying the manual transmission cores or other parts or units that are needed to complete the job.

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Employee Spotlight: Josh Linnell

September 26th, 2016 · No Comments

20140615_1737481              When you make a phone call to Zumbrota Bearing and Gear for your drivetrain component needs, there’s a good chance you’ll talk to Josh Linnell, a member of ZBAG’s sales staff who has been with the company for three years. Josh was recruited to join the sales team because he was known as a knowledgeable person with a loyal following and a stellar reputation in the industry.

Josh brings a lifetime of mechanical experience to ZBAG. He started working the night shift at an automotive repair shop as a teenager. “I went to trade school to be a machinist,” Josh said, “and have never done it a day in my life.” He opted to stay in automotive repair for about ten years before he made the switch to sales in the drivetrain sector of the industry, where he’s been for the last ten to twelve years.

As far as building or rebuilding a transmission or transfer case, Josh hasn’t been involved with that part of the business.  “I’ve never done building as an employee,” Josh remarks, “but I DO build fun stuff.” Josh enjoys working on off-road vehicles. “Some of the guys do mud runs, but I’m more of a trail guy,” he commented.

Another hobby Josh enjoys is his radio controlled cars. “I have crawlers and I have fast stuff,” he said. One of his RCs is a 1/5 scale with the equivalent of a chainsaw motor in it. When he first got involved with the RCs at the age of 12 or 14, he participated in racing, and it was fun. Over the years, Josh observed, the racing has evolved into such a serious business that he no longer participates, but finds other ways to have fun with the RCs.

 

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Employee Spotlight: Brad Hammel

August 31st, 2016 · No Comments

BradHammel

Brad Hammel joined the workforce here at ZBAG a year ago as a member of the shipping and receiving team. “I do more receiving,” he explained. He unpacks incoming orders that include parts for the transmissions, differentials and transfer cases that are produced here. He puts them on a cart and takes them to their warehouse locations, or, if a builder is waiting for a part on a unit they’re working on, he takes it right to the builder.

Brad likes to work on his own vehicles. He is the proud owner of a KTM dirt bike that he enjoys riding on trails in his spare time. He also owns an old Yamaha VMAX, and looks forward to getting a new one sometime soon.

Since Brad is a good Minnesota man, fishing is another one of his favorite pastimes. Trout fishing is high on his list, and he has a favorite location for catching trout near Rushford in the far southeastern tip of the state. However, he’s not opposed to going walleye fishing in one of Minnesota’s lakes or the Mississippi River. He says he’s not fussy about whether he’s fishing from shore or from a boat. When winter comes, Brad turns to snowmobiling for outdoor activity. And through all the seasons, he enjoys the company of his American bulldog, whose name is Chief.

Brad is becoming familiar with the many units and parts that come through ZBAG’s receiving department, from cases for transmissions to gaskets for transfer cases. He recently began building bearing kits as a part of his job responsibilities.

When our customers purchase a differential, a bearing kit, or any parts for a transmission or transfer case, chances are good that Brad has had a hand in getting those items to the right place.

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Employee spotlight: Jeremy Enzenauer

August 29th, 2016 · No Comments

Jeremy                When you see a ZBAG brochure for rebuilt manual transmissions or transfer cases, chances are Jeremy Enzenauer is the person who designed it. He brings a variety of technical computer expertise to the table. “I do marketing and sales projects,” he explains, “and answer questions like, ‘How does this camera work?’”

Jeremy’s degree in marketing from the University of North Dakota gives him the ability to design informational brochures and other print and electronic materials about the products ZBAG offers, from bearing kits to rebuilt manual transmissions.

When he’s away from ZBAG, Jeremy has plenty of other interests to keep him busy. His college degree includes a minor in sports business, and for the last three years, he’s been the scoreboard operator for the Rochester Honkers baseball team.

Jeremy enjoys football, basketball and hockey as well as baseball, and likes to watch rather than participate. “I’m a fan of the sport and what they’re able to do,” he explained. “It’s an appreciation for athletic accomplishment.”

In addition to his sports pursuits, Jeremy takes an active part in helping his family with their Christmas tree farm. He helps customers during the sales season, and works with other aspects of the business throughout the year. The evergreen trees come from Michigan, and they’re six to eighteen inches tall when they arrive. They grow from six to nine years and reach a height of six to twelve feet so they can be sold. Jeremy is involved with tasks such as soil management and tagging trees that are ready to be sold, and he built a website for the enterprise.

When ZBAG customers are looking for information on our many driveline components, from front and rear differentials to rebuilt manual transmissions, they probably see informational material produced by Jeremy.

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Employee Spotlight: Dylan Wood

July 27th, 2016 · No Comments

Capone                Dylan Wood is an integral part of the shipping and receiving team here at ZBAG.  When he first joined the team, he received parts, and then went to the shipping side. “A lot of stuff goes out the door as well as comes in,” he remarked with a grin.

Smaller items, such as bearing kits for manual transmissions and gasket kits for transfer cases, travel on ground delivery systems such as UPS and FedEx and Spee-Dee Delivery. Large units such as differentials and manual transmissions travel by freight. Dylan sends out both types of orders, and also does maintenance on the large tubs that are used to ship the large units such as manual transmissions.

When he’s not packaging units or maintaining shipping equipment, Dylan drives the fork lift to load or unload shipments, or shelving and retrieving units stored in the warehouse.

Dylan is a mechanically-minded guy, and works on his vehicles at his home. “I just finished redoing a car I’ve been working on since high school,” he said. It’s a red ’92 Accura, and he’s finished with the mechanical aspects of the car, but plans to do some improvements to the appearance, such as rust repair.

Early this year, Dylan added a new aspect to his life: he got a dog. Capone is about a year old now, a pit bull-great dane cross who weighs in at 110 pounds. Capone requires lots of attention and exercise, as well as large amounts of food. Usually on the weekends, you can find Dylan and Capone doing outdoor activities.

But while at ZBAG, you’ll find Dylan working at giving ZBAG customers excellent service at shipping and receiving, whether it’s as small as a part for a transfer case or as large as a complete manual transmission.

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Employee spotlight: Adian Dingfelder

July 19th, 2016 · No Comments

AdianAdian Dingfelder is known here at Zumbrota Bearing and Gear as the guy who builds front and rear differentials.

It’s been just over two years since Adian was hired. He didn’t come with a trade school background or mechanical experience, although he always worked on his own vehicles, including cars, trucks and motorcycles. His previous job experience was in a manufacturing venue. Adian’s uncle, Kevin, who is a builder here, told Adian ZBAG was looking for a differential builder, and he should apply for the job. “I’d always wanted to be in mechanics, so I thought I’d give this a try,” Adian remarked. He got the position.

Eric, the GM front differential specialist before Adian came to ZBAG, trained Adian and checked his work.  For his first year and three months at ZBAG, Adian built nothing but 8.25” GM front differentials. That particular front differential is a big seller at ZBAG.

Although Adian still builds a portion of the 8.25” GM front differentials, he now builds a variety of makes and models of rear differentials as well.

Adian and his family enjoy living in a small town near Zumbrota, and in addition to doing maintenance on his vehicles; he also works on his motocross bike, a KTM. Adian enjoys riding trails on the dirt bike.

Another popular Minnesota pastime is high on Adian’s list of things he likes to do. “My grandpa’s got a cabin on a lake up north, and we go up there almost every year,” he said. Adian and family like to fish for whatever is biting up there. And Adian is a loyal Minnesota Vikings fan, hoping for better times in the future.

While on the job at ZBAG, Adian can usually be found building a high quality differential of one sort or another.

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