Breakthroughs

Jul 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

Gerry Holmes is credited with being the first to develop and market a full line of hydraulic wreckers on a national scale. Like the ductless air conditioning system in my home, hydraulic wreckers had already been developed and used in England and Europe. But Gerry brought them to North America at a time when T & R was doing very nicely with mechanical wreckers, especially the Holmes 750, which had become our industry leader.

When Gerry and Century came on the scene several of us encouraged the Dover-owned-Holmes Division to also develop a full line of hydraulic equipment. But Holmes management drug its feet on making a move even though we/they had enjoyed some success with the H475 wreckers that Gerry had pushed before he left Holmes. And yes, Gerry saw the future of T & R in hydraulic, not mechanical, equipment. It was this difference of opinion that drove Gerry to leave and form a new venture called Century that made only hydraulic wreckers.

Like John Madden, I’m reviewing the obvious to make a very simple — yet important — point, which is this: New technologies are often developed by smaller firms that are more focused on improving an industry than making a profit. Put another way, Dover-Holmes wasn’t keen on plowing new ground with a lineup of hydraulic wreckers at a time when they couldn’t keep up with the orders for mechanical wreckers. Corporate America is focused almost entirely on making money for its shareholders. They would rather let a smaller research firm struggle through the trial and error development and marketing stages to launch new products that may or may not succeed. Once success is achieved, then corporate America will make them an offer they can’t refuse, and with their resources, take that new technology to a much higher level than was possible with the smaller research firm.

My hat is off to the high-tech industry because many of the dominant firms also continue to develop new technologies. Perhaps that is a new trend, however the small “skunk works” type of endeavor more often succeeds because it is entirely focused on a single objective. Take a look at Space-X in McGregor, Texas, that successfully sent a space vehicle to the International Space Station and back with much more in the offing.

As Ron Berglan used to say, “We need some new whistles and bells in T & R”.

But who will do it? And when?