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Sentimental Journey - Executive Director Visits Members in St. Louis

Sep 08, 2017

For nearly two years, Executive Director Bernie Nagle had been promising Jack Steuby he would pay a visit to PMPA members in the St. Louis area. Having worked and lived in the St. Louis area for over ten years, it was a nostalgic journey for Bernie when he finally returned to the “Show Me” state to visit PMPA members August 16-18. “Our four adult children spent their formative youth in St. Louis and we all recall our St. Louis years with great fondness. It’s a great place to raise a family,” Bernie said on his return.

A short drive west from the airport brought Bernie to his first stop at Component Bar Products where he spent time with John Pollihan, Mark Fordyce and CEO, Darrell Keesling. Originally started up by Troy Pohlman with two Hydromats, the business is now Darrell’s, and he boasts the largest number of Hydromats under one roof in the world! It is quite an impressive sight, indeed, to see all those Rotary Transfer Machines in one place. Also great to see they are busy and growing. We are very appreciative of Darrell’s kind hospitality, both for the tour and for dinner at legendary “Annie Gunn’s,” afterward.

BN, Darrell, Mark

Componenet Bar Plant

Next stop was the John J. Steuby Co. where Bernie presented Jack Steuby with a 50-Year PMPA Membership plaque (featured in a previous newsletter). We also learned that Jack will celebrate his 90th birthday this November and we wish him the very best of health and prosperity. Everyone at PMPA headquarters is now displaying a shiny .50 caliber machine gun bullet on their desk, compliments of Jack. Bernie did have the good sense to send them back via FedEx instead of trying to carry them on the plane.

Pohlman LLC was Bernie’s next visit. After a conversation with new owner, John Habe IV, and General Manager, Mike Keithly, Bernie toured the plant with Accounting Manager, Mark Winham. Pohlman folks are still moving into this facility and, as is evident at John’s Mentor, Ohio plant, he has done it right. With new floors, new lighting and a flow-efficient layout, you can tell there has been a lot of thought put into it.  We look forward to coming back in a year or so to see the entire shop up and running.

Bernie has a curious connection to the Pohlman story that dates back to the Great Flood of 1993. As you may recall, the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers spilled over and inundated millions of acres of land around the greater St. Louis area, wiping out entire towns.  At that time, Bernie and his family lived less than three miles from the original Pohlman plant in Chesterfield Valley, which was flooded to a depth of twelve feet when the Missouri River burst a levee and filled the Chesterfield Valley with water. “It’s a little spooky. After 24 years, I still have VHS video recordings of newscasts documenting the flooding of the Valley. I will have to look to see if I have footage of the Pohlman plant under water,” Bernie said.

 Pohlman Plant

Next, Bernie headed south to visit Tech Member, Sunnen Products Company where he was hosted by Bob Davis and Tom Dustman, and had the opportunity to meet with several Sunnen operating personnel including President & COO, Chris Miltenberger. Sunnen is a third-gen family business started in 1924 by Joe Sunnen who invented a clever device for collapsing and pulling valve springs from engines. Joe traveled from town to town selling these devices from the back of his truck, displayed below in the company conference room. Sunnen is best known by PMPA members for its honing machines but that’s certainly not the whole story.

Today Sunnen sells products around the world, with much more technology to offer the machining industry than simply honing. Their deep boring and specialty abrasives technology is especially impressive. We want to thank Sunnen for sponsoring the meeting-content “Flash Drives” for our upcoming Annual Meeting in Napa Valley.


Last stop, and by no means least, was at long-time PMPA supporter and Tech Member, Hydromat, up north. A special shout-out to Pam Eveland for assistance with airport logistics, which made for a much more relaxed visit. PMPA Board Member, Rodger Boswell, was extremely generous with his time and attention, as he conducted an extensive tour and delved into the rich history of this originally Swiss company, now principally translocated to St. Louis. The technology is impressive and the degree of vertical integration helps explain why Hydromat has grown and flourished in their market space. Over lunch, Bernie had the opportunity to meet and chat with Kevin Shults, Director of Marketing, and Matthias Walter, Executive Vice President. We were pleased to learn that Matthias will be joining us at the PMPA Annual Meeting and we are so appreciative that Hydromat will be the “Lanyard Sponsor” for the Annual Meeting.