Greenfield’s Applied Dynamics Corp. revved up to innovate, grow
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David Manning, CEO of Applied Dynamics in Greenfield, looks through the windings of one of the large industrial electric motors rebuilt at his company.
David Manning, right, CEO of Applied Dynamics in Greenfield, looks over a variable-speed motor control board with technician Paul Williams, center, and vice-president Dave Cunningham.
GREENFIELD — Last week the workshop floor at Applied Dynamics Corp. was home to a desk-sized contraption housed in a skin of galvanized sheet metal.
A giant wheel about 6 feet across crowned the top. At the bottom, technicians had the electric motor disassembled.
“It’s from a ski resort,” said company founder and CEO David Manning. “It’s part of a chair lift that needed reconditioning.”
“We are a motor repair shop,” he said. “But we do so much more.”
That includes working with lifts, metal-cutting lasers, gearboxes and other heavy industrial equipment.
Founded to repair and supply motors to the paper industry in western Massachusetts, Applied Dynamics has had to adjust to survive. And now it’s growing, Manning said, designing products like a wind turbine that can generate electricity in light wind. No more needing a hard-to-reach mountaintop to get enough wind, he said.
Workers are also installing a heavy lift crane at the company’s headquarters at 36 Butternut St. in the I-91 Industrial Park.
Manning is planning a 5,000-square-foot addition to the 150,000-square-foot building.
“We are out of space,” he said. “I have to turn work away because we can’t get it in the building.”
Applied Dynamics has about 70 employees. About 62 of those are in the Greenfield repair facility, and the remainder are salespeople deployed around the Northeast.
The business recently bought a motor shop in Glens Falls, N.Y., roughly 100 miles from Greenfield.
Manning said Glens Falls is similar to Greenfield in that it’s in the center of a region with a rich manufacturing tradition, particularly in paper making. Manning said there are more active paper mills there, however.
He anticipates expanding the workforce at the Glens Falls site from the current five employees to as many as 30, and possibly more if his plans to build wind turbines there work out.
Manning is reluctant to discuss details of the wind turbine because he doesn’t yet have a patent. But he said he hopes to begin producing them within the year. He plans to sell them for about $750 to homeowners and businesses like his.
“You could put four of these on the corners of your business and no one would ever pay attention,” he said.
“We are working on better ways to do the (wind turbine’s) brakes,” he said. “This is what we do. We make electrical motors better. This is an electrical motor working the other way.”
Manning said he wants to use only American-made parts in the turbines.
“If I can’t do it with American parts I won’t do it,” he said.
Manning, 55, founded Applied Dynamics in a two-car garage on Wells Street in Greenfield in 1987.
At the time there were plenty of paper mills in the region, all with electrical motors that needed to be repaired and replaced.
“Now it is all empty buildings,” Manning said. “It’s sad. A lot of places that helped give me my start are empty buildings now. The paper mills built this place.”
While Applied Dynamics still gets jobs related to the paper industry, it also does motor and gearbox work for gun maker Smith & Wesson in Springfield and defense contractors like United Technology Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit, Electric Boat and Raytheon. In addition, it does work on metal-cutting lasers for automakers.
Manning says he’s excited about the prospect of working with the paper industry in the Glens Falls area.
“I go there to New York, and it reminds me of what this area used to look like here with mill after mill after mill,” he said. “I know their industry is not like it once was. But all I see is low-hanging fruit.”