Mar 10, 2014
If you took apart your car's transmission, you wouldn't see "Gleason" stamped on the gears inside. But almost certainly, the Gleason name is on the machine that made those gears, no matter what plant the vehicle came from.
The gears in the helicopters that fly law enforcement and government officials around? Most likely made on machines that aviation companies like Siemens bought from Gleason.
The gears in local wind turbines? And in your favorite NASCAR driver's car? Gleason.
Gleason Corp., the massive, city-block-long presence on University Avenue, makes the complex machines that create the modern version of what humans have used for millennia to amplify mechanical power. Their designs run the gamut, from making gears that fit in the palm of your hand to gears so large you could drive a truck through them.
Companies today need unique gears, or gears built better and more quickly than ever before. The machines to do that are elaborate, computer-driven and necessarily accurate to microscopic levels. Several Gleason innovations in its 150-year history have turned its customers' gears into high-tech, highly polished creations with worldwide reputations.
All this from a company that started as a machine shop back in 1865. Founder William Gleason, an Irish immigrant, started his business in Brown's Race, back when Brown's Race was a bustling industrial hub.
In 1904, he bought 1000 University Ave. and eventually moved the company there. At this site the company grew into an international powerhouse for gear-making machinery, faltered and found its way again.