Cooper Gear Supplies Many Industries
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.”
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.