After 90 years, Ideal Gear and Machine Works looks to the future with new investments in people, expanded capacity and equipment, including tooling and equipment to produce gearing for wind turbines and specialty high precision speed increasers for new fuel cell technologies.
Established and incorporated in 1919 by Herb Elfstrom, Sr. and Francis Smith, former machinists for Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Ideal's founders opened the doors to their machine shop located on Alexander Street, just a few blocks from downtown Vancouver's waterfront.
Their machining business began by providing services for fishing vessels, steam tugboats and grain elevators. With the onset of World War II, their efforts became strictly war production, supplying valves for the Liberty Ships being built at Vancouver shipyards. This experience established new criteria, growth and a high level of organization and production for Ideal Iron Works. They continued operations in the Alexander Street shop until 2003.
In 1963 William Raymond Ahnert joined the company as a welder working for both Herb Elfstrom Sr. and Herb Elfstrom Jr. Ahnert took a keen interest in the machining business, especially gear cutting. By the early 70s, he had learned a lot and began investing in gearing machinery and learning all he could about the gearing industry from mentors at successful gearing companies based in Ontario. From there the company grew quickly, and supply of gearing to various industries became the focus.
In 1983 Herb Elfstrom Jr. died, at which time his wife Mary signed the company shares to their daughter Wendy Elfstrom and William Ahnert. Together Wendy and William headed Ideal Iron Works until 2003. The company now includes the fourth generation of family members serving customers with gearing and machining needs. Along with William Ahnert is his son, Kevin Ahnert, president, and nephew Steven Ahnert, shop manager.
With over 84 years of growth, collectively over 200 years of in-house experience and an expanding client base, Ideal Iron Works amalgamated with another family business in 2003 to become Ideal Gear and Machine Works Inc. They moved the company from Alexander Street to a 25,000 square foot production facility on the banks of the Fraser River in Delta, B.C., which provided them with direct highway truck access, close proximity to suppliers, ocean-going barge moorage, loading docks, and storage facilities with room for growth. In five years they have expanded their facility to designate space for gearbox repair, testing and inspection.
In the past 90 years, Ideal Gear and Machine Works has created, innovated, patented and manufactured technologies used worldwide in industries ranging from commercial fishing and marine, cement and aggregate, mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, power generation and others. The company currently employs approximately 35 people in production, engineering and inspection.