Page 38: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (November 2016)

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Photo: Konrad


Konrad starting manufacturing its own gears following quality control problems with a gear supplier.


The Konrad stern drive is appli- cable for a wide range of boats, from fast craft to an oyster dredge

Stern Drive to passenger ferries.

The Konrad 660-B.

Photo: Konrad Photo: Taylor Shell? sh Photo: Konrad new business ventures. with a dual prop, and the introduction here more than 35 years. I walk the ? oor starts and ends with quality, which Ken

One of his inside salesmen had expe- of its own in-house gear manufacturing every day and look forward to seeing ev- Konrad said comes back full circle to his rience in the maritime market, and sug- when third party gears started to inex- eryone.” employees. “If you have good, happy gested that the company get into the plicably fail. Most recently the company He said that his number one challenge employees, you’re going to get good business of rebuilding stern drives from introduced the 600-B Series stern drives as a manufacturer is simply ? nding quality,” said Konrad. “I can buy the existing manufacturers. In working with as the demand for additional marine good, quali? ed talent. best equipment in the world, but if the various manufacturers for parts, Konrad power continues to grow, and similar to “Getting skilled personnel, getting ma- employee does not care, they you’re not came to the conclusion that he could the smaller 500-Series, there are several chinists, is very tough these days. If you going to get good quality. We can manu- design and manufacture parts that were versions available in the 600-Series to get that person, you have to train them facture the best parts in the world, but if better. So he did just that. accommodate differing needs: and you have to keep them,” said Kon- the assembly team is careless, you might “One thing led to another, and before • The Konrad 620-B is a single prop rad. Last year he took 14 employees – or get a breakdown. Good quality starts and you know it we started manufacturing workhorse 30% of his company – to the Interna- ends with the employees.” our own stern drives,” said Konrad. • The Konrad 660-B is a dual prop de- tional Machine Tool Show in Chicago.

In 1997, after several years of devel- signed for speed “I offer it so they get to see what is new,” Konrad’s Total Gear Cutting System opment, Konrad brought to market the • The Konrad 680-B offers a combi- said Konrad. “I depend on our employ- Ken Konrad is an engineer and inno- 500 series, its ? rst stern drive, which nation of strength and speed with dual ees to be on the lookout for tools and vator to the core. With all of the parts was speci? cally designed for hard- prop, able to handle diesel engine power technologies that will improve our busi- and technology built into his series of working continuously run applications up to 580 hp. (Note: the Konrad 680-B is ness, and I expect them (at the show in stern drives, he considers the gears to be with diesel engines. It was designed to promoted at 550 hp, it has been success- Chicago) to come to me daily with new the heart and soul. Following a number operate for up to 2,000 hours between fully tested at 580 hp. Also, it has a car- ideas for me to see.” of gear failures in its stern drive unit – major overhauls, and to handle diesel rying capacity of 18,500 lbs. per drive). That continued investment in technol- gears supplied by a third-party – Konrad engine torque up to 600 lb./ft. As word While Ken Konrad is remiss to name ogy is quickly evident when walking proved that its mantra of quality control of the units started to spread, sales grew one project as a favorite over another, the manufacturing ? oor with Ken and and self-suf? cient operation was more quickly, averaging 26% growth per year he exudes a particular sense of pride in totaling the manufacturing automation than words with a $1.2m investment in between 1991 and 2001. Following the discussing a contract to provide pro- which has cost millions of investment its own gear-cutting technology.

bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in pulsion on a series of ? ve triple engine in new equipment. According to Julie In 2012 Konrad Marine announced the 2000, the U.S. Navy took liking to the Hong Kong police boats, built by Damen Heifner, Konrad’s Global Business De- implementation of its Total Gear Cutting

Konrad solution, and with the Hudson, and powered to chase and catch vehicle velopment Manager, the company’s in- System, based on the modern bevel gear

Wis., factory running at capacity sales smugglers in the region. vestment approach is not exclusive to cutting machine Gleason Phoenix II, leapt 200% between 2001-2002. While equipment alone, and includes engineer- 600HC. Highly specialized, integrated the units were designed to deliver 2,000 Maintaining Identity ing, machining, assembly and sales, the programming makes it one of only three hours between major overhauls, the In companies large and small rapid latter an investment in Konrad’s global in the world with its unique capabilities.

company reports that some navy vessels growth can sometimes cloud the original dealers and distributors. “We know that “Our primary objective is to have the logged more than 10,000 hours on a sin- mandate, principles and missions that it is not possible to serve the world with toughest stern drive on the market,” said gle unit before an overhaul. In total more started the company. This is clearly not 50 people from Hudson, Wis., so we Ken Konrad. “To achieve this, we need than 300 Konrad 520s were installed on the case in Konrad, as Ken Konrad to have built a network of partners that are the strongest, most powerful and capable 24 ft. RIBS, and more than 200 were in- this day is still the engineer, the entre- committed, hungry, capable and experi- stern drive gears in the marine industry. stalled on the Navy’s PB34 vessels. preneur and the problem solver. enced,” said Heifner. “We currently have We started with a phenomenal new gear

With solid footing in the market, Kon- “This company is in some ways the four premier partners that also serve as cutting machine. By adding our propri- rad has continued to improve the perfor- same as when I started it because it is spares depots for the company: one in etary processes, specialized programs, mance and power intake capabilities of personal,” said Konrad. “I’m here ev- the U.K., one in the Netherlands, one in design and tooling based on decades of its sterndrive units, including the intro- ery day and the employees see me, and Panama and one in Seattle. When all is successful experience, we created the duction of the Konrad 560 stern drive I have some people who have worked said and written, the Konrad story really Total Gear Cutting System.” 38 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • NOVEMBER 2016

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