A golden business anniversary
Dorner Manufacturing celebrates 50 years

By Karen Pilarski - Freeman Staff

June 16, 2016

 Visitors to Dorner’s 50th anniversary ceremony on Wednesday look over one of the company’s new products, a conveyor system that can move, stop and organize items automatically.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

HARTLAND - The belief at Dorner Manufacturing is to move fast and move smart. The company has lived up to its belief system.

Dorner has grown leaps and bounds since it opened for business on January 14, 1966 as a tool and die shop. Since then, Dorner has grown into a successful business of designing and building low profile conveyor platforms. This year, the company is commemorating 50 years in business with three days of activities. On Wednesday a tour of the Hartland headquarters was given by  Bob Garcia, production manager. A 25,000 square-foot expansion to its manufacturing area was completed last year to meet future production goals and anticipated growth. There were also expansions to its conveyor lines such as AquaPruf sanitary, SmartFlex and 2200 series platforms. Garcia noted an accomplishment was decreasing the amount of time to build a product from 14 days to three days.

“The success is from us taking control of our material and parts. Also having quality and process control to turn over the parts quickly,” he said.

 Dorner employees build conveyor belts in the company's Hartland facility on Wednesday. The company was marking its 50th year.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Highlights and achievements

The philosophy of the company is keep the focus on customers, which means building a high-quality precision product, making sure customers are satisfied, and providing responsive service - followed by a belief that in return customers will continue doing business with Dorner.

Garcia said the company is diverse in different markets such as industrial product lines and sanitary product lines.

According to Dorner documents, the company was founded by brothers Wolfgang and Horst Dorner. The men were looking for a conveyor to efficiently remove scrap and parts from under their dies; however, they couldn’t find one that fit in such a tight space.

The documents said the Dorner brothers developed and patented a new radial thrust bearing and worked with belting companies to obtain a flexible, durable belt, and in 1973, the 4100 Series industrial conveyor was born. News of this conveyor spread, and within a few years conveyor sales were greater than the tool and die business, which was then phased out of production; from then on the brothers focused on conveyors.

Other major achievements were Dorner opening  its first office in Canada to better serve the Canadian market; and acquiring FlexMove, a Malaysian-based manufacturer of flexible chain conveyors for food, beverage, automotive, electronic and other industries.

Dorner production manager Bob Garcia holds an example of the company's SmartFlex belt material during a tour on Wednesday.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Employees and internship programs

Dorner has around 250 staff members. The company has added staff aimed at establishing brand recognition and growing sales to international markets. Garcia spoke about how employees are encouraged to learn different tasks in the facility.

“The more they learn, they more valuable they are,” Garcia said.

The company also has an internship program, based on departments such as manufacturing and engineering. The goal of the internship program is to generate interest in the industry among young people. The company also funds and awards an annual Richard C. Ryan Packaging Education Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a student who is interested in a packaging career and was established in honor of Richard Ryan, the former president and CEO of Dorner, who died suddenly in 2012.

For more information about Dorner’s 50th anniversary or its conveyor platforms, visit www.dornerconveyors.com/50.

Email: kpilarski@conleynet.com