Cooper Gear Sup­plies Many In­dus­tries

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Dick­er­son

Cooper Gear in An­der­son man­u­fac­tures parts that end up in a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries.

Jim Cooper is the pres­i­dent of the busi­ness, which was founded in 1995.

He said, “Pre­vi­ously I had worked 20-some­thing years for large air­craft com­pa­nies and got laid off, and so we just de­cided to start our own com­pany.”

He started out at his pre­vi­ous com­pany, Tele­dyne, as a ma­chine oper­a­tor and worked his way into man­age­ment, then into sales, he said.

His wife, Naomi Cooper, is vice pres­i­dent and fi­nan­cial man­ager. His son, Shawn Cooper, is op­er­a­tions man­ager, and his daugh­ter, Michelle Spears, is pro­duc­tion con­trol man­ager.

“We man­u­fac­ture all types of ma­chined prod­ucts, pri­mar­ily out of steel,” Jim said. “Our pri­mary prod­ucts are gears, spline shafts, and var­i­ous parts for winches and lift­ing equip­ment.”

He ex­plained one of the high­lights. The mil­i­tary has a Hum­mer with two large winches on it, and the winches are pri­mar­ily used for pulling tanks when they get stuck in the sand. How­ever, when Amer­i­can sol­diers top­pled the statue of Sad­dam Hus­sein in Bagh­dad, they used a winch with parts made in An­der­son, Mo., he said.

Shawn said the in­dus­tries that use Cooper Gear’s parts in­clude the rail­road, tow­ing and re­cov­ery, oil and gas, util­ity, min­ing and con­struc­tion, off-road and crane in­dus­tries. They also ex­port to two Cana­dian com­pa­nies, he added. Asked how he likes work­ing with fam­ily each day, Jim said, “It has its ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages. They all work hard and they all do a good job. We all wear a lot of hats. We all do what­ever is nec­es­sary.”

Asked what he would like peo­ple to know about his busi­ness, he said, “We have sev­eral high school kids that work here.”

Shawn noted the busi­ness works closely with the high school on hir­ing.

Jim also said, “We have a very good qual­ity rat­ing with all of our cus­tomers and de­liv­ery — how good our parts are and are they there on time.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is our em­ploy­ees and

their work ethic. We have some su­per in­di­vid­u­als that work for us.”

Cooper Gear has about 15 em­ploy­ees, although at its peak sev­eral years ago, it had 30, Jim said.

Jim said two things helped the fam­ily get the busi­ness started — “First, it was by the grace of the good Lord and the help of Dar­rel Spillers and the staff of Corner­stone Bank.”

Michelle said the thing she is most proud of is, “In a lit­tle town they have been very suc­cess­ful for a small town. In the be­gin­ning some peo­ple prob­a­bly didn’t think they would make it, but they’ve done re­ally well and they take pride in their com­pany and their em­ploy­ees. They treat them re­ally well.”

Naomi said, “I’m just proud of the progress we’ve made. It started out with just Jimmy and me, and we’ve been able to hire the em­ploy­ees we have. We have re­ally good em­ploy­ees.”

RACHEL DICK­ER­SON/MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

Em­ploy­ees of Cooper Gear are, left to right: Mark Wil­liams, Rick Lile, Richard Bethel, Jimmy Riggs, Wes­ley O’Brien, Jerry Roark, John Washam, Shawn Cooper, Michelle Spears, Naomi Cooper and Jim Cooper.

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