“Bearing’ the demand for high quality products
CW Bearing is a leading mid-sized manufacturing company specializing in developing and producing a wide range of premium ball and roller bearings for electric motors, gearboxes, power tools, automobiles, all-terrain vehicles, cycling, and other industrial sectors.
The company, which has a significant global presence, has offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. Among its customers are well-known automotive OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and many other sub-suppliers. In addition, their bearings are installed by well-known OEMs in a wide range of industries, such as power tools.
CW Bearing is a subsidiary of Cixing Group Co., Ltd., a company founded and headquartered in Ningbo City, China. Its headquarters serves as the company’s global technical center supporting sales and engineering offices in its other international offices.
What truly sets CW Bearing apart is its ability to think globally while operating locally. It achieves this through well-represented global offices and manufacturing facilities staffed with local experts, ensuring the company can respond to the needs of each market it serves with the proper context and products.
“CW Bearing provides a wide range of products in the ball and roller bearing niche,” says Jay Click, VP of North American Operations at CW Bearing. “We supply all types of bearings, and with our expertise, customers have endless possibilities to optimize their bearing for their applications.”
The company manufactures standard and customized ball bearings depending on customer specific requirements and their applications. Some products it manufactures and customizes are deep groove ball bearings, high speed bearings, angular contact ball bearings, four-point contact ball bearings, wheel bearings, CVJ cages, ball screws, worm shafts, and roller bearings.
One of CW’s competitive advantages is that they collaborate directly with clients to find solutions to their bearing requirements, providing consultation and application engineering services.
“Another advantage when it comes to our products is our focus on total cost of ownership,” Click adds. “We offer cost-effective alternatives to the larger ball bearing companies that might not have such competitive pricing.”
In addition to manufacturing ball and roller bearings, the company’s core business, CW Bearing, also provides solutions such as an online configurator where clients can upload a specification sheet and drawing to request customized products.
CW Bearing’s parent company, Cixing Group Co., Ltd., was founded by Hu Xiangen in 1984. The company, which remains privately owned to date, works primarily with B2B clients, including power tool manufacturers like DeWalt.
“We are in a wide range of markets,” says Click. “Besides power tools, we are also heavily involved in ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and UTVs (utility task vehicles), cycling, electric motors, and the automotive industry, especially in the power steering systems and brake-by-wire niches.”
CW Bearing’s North American offices include corporate operations, sales and manufacturing in Northville, Michigan; a corporate office in Irvine, California; warehouses in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Additionally, there is a manufacturing facility located in Apaseo Grande, Guanajuato, Mexico.
“Our Michigan manufacturing facility opened in 2016 and the one in Mexico in 2018,” Click explains. “We’re expanding the facility in Mexico, doubling the building size from 55,000 square feet to about 110,000 square feet. Our expansion efforts are very targeted, and we currently have projects from companies like Bosch and Nexteer that will take up that additional manufacturing space.”
As part of its growth efforts, the company recently acquired Drake Manufacturing, a manufacturer specializing in building thread machines for ball screws. In its expansion, the company also places specialized attention on its valued partnerships and sees them as integral to their core working model. One such company that CW Bearing works closely with is Cybergear, an industry leader in industrial applications with top-tiered experience skilled in technological solutions for CW Bearing as well as having the proven ability to aid in the company’s overall efficiency.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, CW Bearing experienced similar effects as those felt by companies in most industries, including supply chain challenges and labor shortages.
“The global pandemic affected us similarly to many other companies in labor and material shortages and logistics delays in bringing in materials from different countries,” says Kyle Weyers, Director of Industrial Sales at CW Bearing.
“We’re a global manufacturer and distributor of products, so any major global logistics challenges would significantly affect our operations. But we have been smart with figuring out how to overcome those challenges and managed to continue servicing our clients.”
One way the company overcame the supply chain and labor shortages was to diversify its product line and customers to tap into additional markets that might not have been its traditional targets.
“Diversification helped us spread our reliance on certain key markets that might have been hit harder than others,” Weyers says. “Doing so helped us navigate the choppy waters that the pandemic brought to various industries we serve.”
On the marketing front, CW Bearing, being a niche business, utilizes a more niche marketing approach to reach its customers, as Shannon Roach, Marketing Manager at CW Bearing, explains.
“CW Bearing targets niche markets with an exceptionally long purchase cycle, so we use hyper-targeted marketing to reach clients. One area we focus on is digital marketing, where we recently undertook the transformation of our website.”
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time creating content for the website and social media, with the intent of consistently talking to consumers across these channels.”
These digital marketing efforts have borne fruit as Roach notes that the company has noticed growth that is above average in terms and managed to reach very engaged targets through those channels.
“Next year, we are venturing into trade publications, new for CW Bearing in North America and across our global offices. We are considering publishing design, engineering, and bearing news and industry related topics, whether in digital or print.”
“After that, we expect to leap into video content, where we’ll talk to our executives and have them discuss why CW Bearing is different and what our engineering and sales teams bring to the table. We also plan to do video walkthroughs of the great facilities we have in North America.”
As a global manufacturer, CW Bearing is also aware of its contribution to global GHG emissions and is actively pursuing opportunities to lower its carbon footprint.
“We are well aware of our carbon footprint and are currently pursuing initiatives that can mitigate our carbon emissions,” Weyers says. “Most initiatives are client-led, and we are seeing much interest from clients to utilize more carbon-neutral manufacturing processes when manufacturing their products.”
“In addition to client-led initiatives, we are also looking at internal ways of reducing our carbon footprint,” adds Click, “including exploring the idea of switching our fleet to EVs.”
“Right now, our main focus is understanding how our products and processes fit into the global effort to reduce carbon emissions. One way we look at it is that our products primarily increase efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and contributing to fewer emissions.”
Looking ahead, one of the markets of focus for the company is the ball screw market, which it feels fits in with its current manufacturing capabilities.
“Ball screws are a major part of our growth, and we are focusing on that side of the business,” says Click. “We are also expanding other verticals like cylindrical rollers and wheel hub bearings.”
“Another market we are experiencing growth in is robotics and automation, where demand is growing for products like flex bearings that go into the gearboxes and robotic joints,” Click adds.
“We are preparing and positioning ourselves from manufacturing and production standpoints to take advantage of this emerging market.”
“The AGV and AMR markets are also taking off,” adds Weyers, “especially as the demand for automation rises. We are seeing significant demand from clients who need gear motors and actuators for such machinery, so this market is also one which we expect will play a significant role in our future growth.”
AT A GLANCE
What: top rated manufacturer of ball and roller bearings across automotive and industrial sectors
Where: Northville, MI with branches in Europe and Asia