History of Bear Tech Industries
In the late 1980s, A-M Systems was based in Council Bluffs Iowa. The company had been a Value Added Reseller (VAR) offering Data General mini-computers to businesses since the mid 1970s and their primary prospect/customer profile was based in the Manufacturing and Distribution. One of the recognized problems in this area at that time was being able to get data from the shop floor and warehouse into the company computer system. As a result, companies were moving towards a relatively new technology - "bar coding" and shop floor data collection. With this advancing technology, A-M Systems elected to move with the new technology and began moving towards a specialty business of offering products and services for shop floor data collection and all of the related aspects thereof.
One of the very early "data collection systems" to be installed by A-M Systems was a small Turkey processing plant in Gibbon Nebraska. The success of the installation was immediate - rather than a person having to hand-write scale weights and product numbers, A-M Systems attached a Data Net data collection terminal to a catch-weight scale and a Fargo Prodigy bar code printer to immediately print label with catch weight, product number, date, etc. There was an immediate savings to the turkey company of being able to eliminate a person-task and thus realize a fast Return-on-Investment.
But, as is often the case, the solution to one problem can create another problem. Such was the case here - we had not taken into account that electronic devices, such as printers and terminals do not perform well in wet, damp, cold environments that are found in meat and food processing plants. The data collection devices needed some environmental protection if they were going to provide a reliable, dependable service. It became apparent that there was not a source for economical environmental enclosures for the bar code printers and data collection terminals that we were installing on the production floor.
Our investigation for environmental enclosures determined that the only real protection at that time were enclosures that were made of stainless steel. It also was determined very quickly that the cost of the environmental protection cost considerably more than the devices for which they were protecting! And of course the reason for stainless steel was because stainless steel will not rust, which is a requirement in any food processing operation. Thus our challenge was to find something that was acceptable as a "food grade" material and yet more economical than stainless steel.
The answer was "plastic". During that time, GE Plastics (now SABIC Innovative Plastics) was advertising a new plastic material that could stop a bullet. It was an extremely effective bit of avertising and certainly seem to be the material that could solve the problem of a rust-proof, shatter-proof needed for the enclosures that would provide the environmental protection needed for the electronic equipment that was being installed in wet, damp environments.
The innovative design characteristics of plastic in place of the stainless steel made an immediate impact on solving the problem that we had been facing. Plastic could be easily cut and drilled with regular shop equipment - no special tools required. It could be easily welded to form a permanent bond. Plastic eliminated the high cost of stainless steel and it also eliminated the major problem of sweating and drawing moisture. There are other advantages, but that was the solution to our problem at that time.
The first product was simply a "cover", that is still being made today, albeit a very small percentage of the products that we now produce. The cover was a great leap forward in solving environmental problems that we had faced in that turkey processing plant. As the news spread of our solution to the aforementioned problem, the company started getting inquiries primarily from bar code printer manufacturers, and their resellers. They wanted to sell bar code printers into similar harsh environments and they saw our product line as an option and an accessory that could eliminate a primary objection to such devices in those types of environments and thus benefit from additional sales.
Virtually all of the evolution of the current product line came from inquiries from prospects on how to solve particular problems that they were facing in their specific situation. From the initial "Cover", the "Splashdown" and "Washdown" models were developed to offer even greater protection than the basic Cover model. Fans and Filters were added to provide ventilation where required. Heaters units were designed to be incorporated into the enclosures where the environment dictated the need. Indeed all of the "options" and many of the features came from this avenue.
In 2000, the Titan Enclosures operation was sold to Bear Tech Industries and the business was moved to their current location in North Dakota. And as the saying goes, "...the rest is history!".