This month, GP Reeves is celebrating 50 years of success in the precision dispensing business. The company’s journey has been one of challenges, growth, transformation, and grit. Follow us along as we reflect on the people and events that helped us to reach this incredible milestone!
It was May of 1971; Gordon Paul Reeves had just gotten let go from his job at a small fluid powerhouse and was looking for his next opportunity. The feeling of losing a job was one that Gord didn’t want to experience ever again, and he knew the only way to do that was to be his own employer. Utilizing the fluid mechanics and electrical knowledge Gord acquired at his previous job, he started a company providing industrial controls for conveyor manufacturing. Prior to making this jump, he received essential advice from his previous employer and several close friends. The general gist of their advice was that if he wanted to start a business, he needed to do it alone, and he needed to put his name on it. This is where GP Reeves was born.
Fairly quickly, Gord realized that the industrial controls avenue of manufacturing conveyors wasn’t nearly as advantageous as the lubrication of said conveyors. He quickly pivoted the company to production of conveyor lubricators. Competitors at the time weren’t very precise in their oil dispensing, leading to pools of oil in warehouses, and in some cases even warehouse fires. Gord’s specific combination of skills allowed him to engineer and patent an ultra-precise conveyor lubricator that sat directly on conveyors and was able to track where the conveyor was in order to lubricate only the specific joints necessary.
His product was leaps and bounds above the competition, but at this time he was a one-man shop and had difficulty perfecting his product while simultaneously trying to find customers. Gord realized the best way to get into facilities utilizing conveyors was to work directly with the conveyor manufacturers. For several years, GP Reeves was very successful working off this model, but towards the end of the 1970’s some of his loyal customers were beginning to inquire about other applications that he may be able to help them with.
In the 1980s, the hair, funk music, and shoulder pads weren’t the only things getting bigger. Gord’s company had grown to serve multiple industries with precise and reliable dispensing equipment. This early success led Gord to trademark the name Lube Logic™ for his conveyor lubrication equipment and even expand into a new warehouse facility. The clientele was evolving to adopt unique automation capabilities and therefore create new technologies for advancing product lines. GP Reeves decided to use this opportunity of market development to enhance its own equipment progression. In the 1980s Gord started offering customization and equipment configuration to ensure that the dispensing systems made by GP Reeves could serve even the most challenging applications. Customers came to Gord from all over the country with their tough and uncommon applications to find effective and durable solutions.
During this time Gord also began to see a growing potential in the market for grease dispensing products. Companies were finding value in the lubrication of products with grease materials, so he rapidly developed equipment that could handle the viscosities and pressures required to dispense this new material accurately and reliably.
As Gord sought to maintain his young company’s success, he continued partaking in a variety of courses on business and industry related subjects. In one seminar entitled “How to Get in Front of the Right Buyers”, he learned how to write letters to potential buyers about his product line.
ITT Hancock, a company in Jackson, MI received one of these strategic letters in the mail and quickly responded with an inquiry that led to one of our first major grease projects. GP Reeves, although somewhat youthful, successfully applied MPG3 synthetic grease to Ford door hinges for an emergency installation that had run into solvent issues. Gord celebrated his company’s ability to rapidly evolve in order to meet the needs of even large companies.
In the final months of the 80s, Gord cemented his companies’ unique capabilities with a patent for his company’s lubricant delivery system, which included flow measuring. This patent secured GP Reeves’ spot as a manufacturer of systems that could find and remove air from dispensing materials. Because air could easily become trapped in grease, production lines often suffered from inaccurately dispensed material and numerous air bubbles. The advanced technology and critical thinking of Gord allowed assembly lines to circumvent this problem and continue their procedures with precision.
Going into the 1990s, GP Reeves continued to claim a strong foothold within a variety of industries. While the Backstreet boys were singing their way to the spot of best boy band, GP Reeves was claiming its place as a leader within the dispensing industry. Unlike other dispensing companies, GP Reeves ensured its customization abilities were advanced enough to serve the unique needs of even the most challenging customers. “I want it that way” wasn’t just a hit song title, but a customer phrase that brought opportunity for Gord and his team to invent new dispensing technologies that better served the developing configurations of a wider range of clients. A determination to improve and advance the industry led Gord to get another patent for his Flow Sensor, which allowed users to better monitor the amount of material flowing through a dispensing unit.
With a growing team and expanding influence on production lines everywhere, Gord decided to move his plant from the bustling town of Grand Rapids to the smaller coastal city of Holland, Michigan. The move to a larger facility made it easier and more realistic for Gord to grow his team. By the middle of the decade, GP Reeves had become a team of 10 members all focused on innovation and a dedication to succeeding together. We’re lucky to still have some of these original teammates as a part of our GP Reeves family today!
It was also during this time that Gord’s son, Kevin, began to take an interest in shop work and help his father with different dispensing projects. Although the team was expanding, Gord still used distributers as his main source of sales. The founder would fly from Michigan’s west coast to Cleveland, Ohio on his own small plane — allowing him to grow the business and still make it home on time for dinner.
Although most of the business came from a range of distributors, the successful impact of GP Reeves equipment was spreading by word of mouth to major companies around the world. It was during this decade that GP Reeves first landed in Europe, helping in a French assembly line project. Backstreet Boys, baguettes, and progressive material dispensing? No wonder the 90s are coming back!
With the start of a new century came a solution to a major problem disrupting the efficiencies of assembly lines throughout the manufacturing realm. In late April of 2000, Gord obtained another patent for an apparatus for dispensing measured quantities of lubricant. Gord’s revolutionary technology allowed for more precision in the material dispensing process. The patented machinery sensed the proportions of grease in a volume of material, ensuring the production capacities of industrial companies were no longer held back by air bubbles or end point constraints. In fact, the distance between a dispenser and material end point could now be up to 3 feet and still host a reliable material delivery! Gord’s innovations continued to advance and simplify assembly facilities all over the globe.
Even though Gord knew his equipment was progressive and cutting-edge, he wanted to ensure that his business model remained true to its roots. He quickly learned that sometimes in business, saying no is just as important as saying yes. Farther into the decade, GP Reeves was given a chance to work with a major auto maker. Although this was a great chance for GP Reeves to ramp up its client base, Gord knew that the specs desired and the hardship the project would cause his team weren’t worth the potential popularity. The company chose to work with one of our competitors and has continued to grow, but Gord is grateful for his ability to resist changing his business models or goals for the chance at a big project.
Being around the decision-making processes of opportunities such as the large-scale automotive project helped shape Kevin, Gord’s son and the company’s current president, to be the business leader he is today. In the 2000s, Kevin began working in quality control for GP Reeves. This role allowed him to go into the manufacturing field and ensure that products were running properly. Kevin’s chance to witness his father’s business techniques alongside his early experience on the service side of the dispensing company later inspired him to continue his work with GP Reeves after college graduation.
The 2010s saw a surge of advancement for GP Reeves like no other decade. Rather than buying and selling pumps sourced from other companies, GP Reeves began manufacturing its own material pumps, advancing the organization’s ability to accomplish product development fully in-house. After expanding to a third suite at its Greenly St. manufacturing facility, GP Reeves continued to grow and serve a wide range of customer assembly lines. To accommodate for increasing industrial innovations, Gord continued to invent and adopt new technologies. In 2016, he received yet another patent, this time for a repairable cartridge valve. The success of GP Reeves and the evolvement of its equipment, capabilities, and team inspired Gord to make a big change.
In 2017, a new GP Reeves logo was unveiled, celebrating the business that had led to so much mechanical innovation and the name that had started it all. Although Gord was proud of his company and the progress he had made within the manufacturing industry, he knew of an individual that possessed the potential to take GP Reeves to the next level.
In May of 2018, Gord’s son, Kevin, became the second president of GP Reeves. This transition launched GP Reeves into a new era of state-of-the art equipment production and led the business to become a more established manufacturer of dispensing technology. Later that year, Kevin moved GP Reeves to a new facility where our headquarters are still positioned today. Under Kevin’s leadership, GP Reeves has increased its manufacturing capacity, its customer base, and its impact on the local community.
Although it was a tough adjustment to life off the shop floor, Gord has expressed gratitude for the strong leadership of his son and for his own ability to reflect on such impressive company growth. Gord has explained that every success is a foundation for another one and sees his son as an optimistic and servant-minded leader that has what it takes to continue transforming the industry. Unlike his work on the gritty warehouse floor, Gord now spends his days teaching high school students’ clarinet — continuing to inspire a next generation of hard-working individuals. Kevin has loved his role as president and hopes to continue his father’s legacy of precise dispensing innovation.
The past 50 years have seen radical dispense modernization, the advancement of multiple industries, and the cultivation of an upstanding business. Since Gord’s first days tinkering with equipment in his garage, to an 18,000 square foot manufacturing complex, major changes have occurred over the lifetime of this niche manufacturing firm. This once small business has proved its ability to expand its technological capabilities, adapt equipment to accommodate developing industries, and grow into a dispensing machinery powerhouse. Rather than serve just conveyor units, GP Reeves now provides equipment for the automotive, heavy equipment, energy and natural resources, agriculture, medical, aerospace, and consumer products industries. The company has an extensive line of standard products in addition to its massive segment of custom machines.
This team is one in a constant pursuit of innovation. Gord Reeves inspired his employees to value the idea of meaningful work and succeeding together. This mindset is still applicable today as the team of now 50+ employees strive to develop and enhance cutting-edge technologies to power multiple industries.
GP Reeves is consumed with an all-encompassing goal to use our entrepreneurial spirit and relentless effort to ensure our customers receive the most advanced dispensing solutions possible. This commitment to relentless innovation has guided us to a first 50 years filled with plenty of exciting progress, and we’re “pumped” to see what the next 50 bring!
Interested in Learning More About Our Advanced Capabilities?
Fill out the form below and we’ll follow up with you!