A Brief History of Linn Gear Co., Inc.
The corporation was formed in 1954 by Mr. Richard Hobbs from a portion of an ongoing business known as the Hobbs Machine Works, owned by Richard Hobbs and one of his brothers. The firm began making sprockets and gears a few years earlier, adding this to the general machine and foundry work they were engaged in since 1945.
During the period following World War II, the western United States was enjoying a period of substantial economic growth based largely on the wood products industry. Lebanon, Oregon is located in a strategic position to serve the wood processing industry of that era with hundreds of saw mills and plywood mills operating in the local region.
In the late 1950’s almost all major equipment and machinery manufacturers were located east of the Mississippi. This caused a major problem for the rapidly growing western industrial firms who frequently needed replacement parts for the equipment and often had to wait many weeks for their arrival.
The formation of Linn Gear Company filled a significant need as a local source of equipment for the burgeoning wood products industry, and the firm thrived. Linn published its first catalog of stock products soon after inception in 1955, and began selling to wholesale distributors in 1959 with a much expanded product line. The current owner, Mr. Gene Hartl, purchased the company in 1965. Operations were subsequently relocated to the present location at 100 N. 8th Street in Lebanon, Oregon in 1968 where a new 28,000 square foot plant had been constructed.
Gene Hartl began working for the Hobbs brothers as a teenager. He was with them for almost twenty years when he took over the business. Through Mr. Hartl’s guidance, Linn Gear Co. has become known across the nation as a manufacturer of high quality mechanical power transmission equipment. Linn sells its products to distributors in all 50 states and maintains a reputation for both excellent products and service.
The firm joined the Power Transmission Distributor’s Association in 1975 and experienced a substantial period of growth throughout the United States as a direct result of the decision to market its products solely through the wholesale distribution channel.
In 1984, Linn Gear Co. joined the American Gear Manufacturers Association and has made the development of expanded gear manufacturing and inspection capabilities a priority. This company is one of the only manufacturers of open gearing who sells its products through power transmission distributors rather than direct to users. The firm continues to improve the levels of quality it can attain in its gear manufacturing and finishing processes through education, research and equipment acquisition.
Linn Gear has continued to expand its plant and its capabilities whenever possible. Today the operation employs 160 people, occupies over 130,000 square feet of building space on its 11 acre site, and utilizes over 300 machine tools in the manufacture of many types of gears, sprockets, bushings, sheaves and other mechanical power transmission equipment. The latest edition of the company’s catalog of stock products include over 10,000 items and the company produces many thousands of custom products every year.
At the end of 1997, Gene Hartl retired after 50 years of dedicated activity. He continues to serve on the Board of Directors. His son, Gil Hartl was selected to succeed Gene as President. Two other sons are also in managerial positions. Brian Hartl is General Manager and Garry Jones is Outside Sales Manager.
Acquisitions of new equipment, employee training and process refinement are made continuously, ensuring that Linn Gear Co. will be prepared to serve the needs of America’s power transmission industry for many years to come.