Whitmore lubricants add years to the lives of its clients’ machines.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Crushing cement can leave wear and tear on even the toughest of heavy machinery, but that is an area where Whitmore can lend a hand. Senior Director of Sales Jack Ellis explains that the company’s products have been extending the lives of its clients’ equipment for decades.
“We have customers that [after] 40 years are still using the same gears,” he declares. “We’ve got a lot of great success stories.”
Based in Rockwall, Texas, Whitmore offers performance lubricants, application equipment, lubrication management products and desiccant breathers to a wide range of markets, including mining, rail, cement, steel, food and beverage, power generation, pulp and paper, and more.
Whitmore started by manufacturing automotive products and belt dressings in Cleveland. The company moved into its current lubrication specialty when it began aiding clients who were building the Panama Canal.
Much of the earthmoving equipment used to build the canal, Ellis explains, was experiencing lubrication problems. Whitmore won the contract to provide lubricants for the machines, which it later offered to the mining industry.
“The company has a very long history of high-performance products,” Ellis says. “It’s continued to grow into many different areas.”
In the mid-1990s, Whitmore began serving the railroad sector with lubricants and lubrication systems. The company then expanded its product line with reliability products. It acquired Air Sentry® desiccant breathers to reduce particulate and moisture contamination in fluids and equipment, and OilSafe® systems and other lubrication management products that store, transfer and identify these same fluids and equipment. Because of OilSafe’s color-coded identification systems, “People can be sure that the right product goes into the right application,” Ellis says.
Most importantly, Whitmore lubricants and reliability products extend the life of their customer’s most valuable equipment. “Our products have proven long-lasting operating life,” he says.
Today, Whitmore serves a broad base of clients, including Caterpillar, Peabody Energy, Glencore and AngloGold Ashanti. “[We’re] a very well-known, established brand,” Ellis says.
Out in Front
Ellis joined Whitmore in 1990. Previously, he worked in the mining industry where he used the company’s products first hand.
“The company has done an outstanding job of staying out in front of competitors with new products that are high-performance,” he says, adding that its latest lubricant products include open gear lubricants.
“[Those] are used around the world on large mining and heavy industrial equipment, they are used for crushing different types of products,” Ellis says, noting that these can range from cement aggregates to coal. “They’re highly recommended by many OEMs around the world.”
Whitmore maintains a strong emphasis on product quality throughout its operations. “It is a standard that is just bred in,” Vice President of Product Development Doug Reid declares, adding that this begins with Whitmore’s entire staff ranging from its R&D team to its production staff and sales force.
The company has implemented quality control standards and procedures to ensure its products are made the right way, each time. “We are equipped with a lot of automation and equipment to make sure the same amount of base oil, additives and thickeners get put in our formulations every time,” he says.
Whitmore also utilizes lean manufacturing techniques. “There’s been a pretty heavy emphasis on this for the last 10 years, and it’s advancing every day,” Reid says, noting that this has helped the company reduce lead times.
It has also allowed Whitmore to increase customer satisfaction and improve production performance. “Because of our initiatives we’re able to meet a much larger demand and expand across more markets these days,” he says. “Customers have been very happy with the products and service.”
Whitmore has nurtured strong relationships with its raw material suppliers, which include many that have grown alongside the company. “[We’re] dealing with the same companies that we’ve dealt with for many years,” President Craig Foster says.
The company values and relies on the relationships of its distributors and end users, and provides them with product training and constant customer service. “[We] train them how to get the most benefits out of our products,” Foster says.
For example, Whitmore can help its end users make sure they are not over-applying the lubricant on their machines. “We want to see them get the most benefit by running it lean,” he says. “That’s how the end user obtains cost savings.”
Whitmore is adapting to changes in the mining industry. “There has been a push to move towards natural gas,” says Joel Garrett, Vice President of Global Sales. “This has resulted in a lot of coal mining operations not working at full capacity.”
Some would view this as a challenge for Whitmore’s business since the assets in these operations are underutilized. However, Garrett sees an upside. “This is positive as we have adapted and pursued new markets. These markets all have gears, bearings and chains similar to the application points we have lubricated for decades. We are leveraging this experience to solve problems for a larger customer base,” he explains. “Mineral mines are a big focus for us as well as industrial markets, such as cement, steel and power generation.”
Whitmore also plans to continue developing and innovating new products, equipment and services. “We focus our product development on applications where the current technology is not meeting the demands, especially those processes with assets operating under extreme conditions.”
According to Garrett, “Our customers will continue to explore new opportunities, which place additional demands on their assets. As a partner for our customers, we analyze these extreme conditions. Our sales, technical and field service teams transfer their analyses of the engineering challenges to our laboratory and plant. This knowledge transfer is used to design, develop and manufacture product technology that exceeds what is currently available in today’s market.”
“The company plans to continue to invest more in markets within North America, as well as international expansion,” Foster says.
Designed to Perform
Whitmore also serves the food and beverage industry, with products that are NSF approved. “We offer an extensive range of food industry lubrication products that are designed to perform in demanding environments,” it says.
“Whitmore specializes in chain oils, food grade products, open gear and rail lubricants, compressor, gear and hydraulic oils, extreme pressure greases, friction modifiers, application equipment, lubrication management products, desiccant breathers, cleaners, absorbents and more,” the company says.
Whitmore’s focus on serving others goes beyond selling products. The company annually contributes to local causes that include the Rockwall Independent School District, community youth initiatives, county fire and rescue and civic organizations.
The firm also supports charities through its Whitmore Cares program, including Helping Hands, Senior Care Centers, Meals on Wheels Senior Services and LifePath Foundation/ECI. “Whitmore employees volunteer their time and donate their resources to these worthy causes,” the company says.