Interview: Jason Flanzbaum, President, Boca Bearing Company
Jason Flanzbaum graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1995 with a degree in accounting and information systems. His first job out of college was working for a local radio station, and he also played in a band that was having difficulty booking gigs. So he built a SaaS-model, CRM for independent touring musicians – because that’s what all struggling musicians do, right?
Twenty years ago, he relocated temporarily (or so he thought) from Massachusetts to South Florida to help his father run the family business. Today, Flanzbaum is president of that very company – Boca Bearings – and proud to have helped his father develop it to its current status as the industry leader in ceramic bearings.
Next week, Flanzbaum is on-site at Ceramics Expo 2018 (Booth 234) with the very bearings being used in the Jeff Bezos-backed 10,000 Year Clock project – a mechanical timekeeping system under construction in West Texas designed to run for nearly 10,000 years under its own power. The Amazon.com founder and owner of The Washington Post recently revealed a video of the 10k clock, which will stand 500-feet tall and be powered by the earth’s thermal cycles.
“[It’s] a symbol for long-term thinking," Bezos shared recently via Twitter, adding in a blog post: “Building a clock inside a remote mountain is a big task. Construction is under way, and we're making progress every day.”
In advance of Ceramics Expo 2018, we chatted with Flanzbaum for some inside info on Boca Bearings and the significant role it is playing in conjunction with the 10K clock.
You got involved booking bands as a college freshman; how does that tie in with today leading Boca Bearings?
I was in a band, and we wanted to tour the east coast. No agent would work with us, so I became the agent. Booking gigs is cold-call selling: I sent out music packages for bands and did persistent follow-up with clubs, colleges and the media. I learned “Act! CRM” and customised it specifically for music booking, eventually becoming a consultant helping other music agents set up their database, contracts and workflows.
How does a company evolve from working with remote-control car enthusiasts to partnering on projects with the Forbes 400 richest man in America?
While working for another bearings company early in his career, my father was tasked with promoting a new line of miniature bearings. He saw an opportunity in remote-control (RC) vehicles because they were only using brass bushings at the time. He first tried calling the RC manufacturers directly but did not have any luck. He then called the hobby shops directly, but they did not understand what he was selling. So he started marketing directly to the end user, basically a 12- to 35-year-old Midwestern boy.
Those kids grew up, most of them went into technical/mechanical trades and they never forgot my father. I bump into engineers all around the country, and they all say the same thing: “I have been using your bearings since I played with RC cars when I was a kid.”
How did Boca Bearings get involved with the 10,000 Year Clock project?
They needed some very unique ceramic bearings to complete the clock, and testing Boca Bearings’ full-range bearings revealed that ours were the only ones that could do 350 million cycles without lubrication, with high corrosion resistance, and unparalleled working life and high efficiency. The 10,000 Year Clock is a pretty proud message we like to share whenever people ask about the shelf life of ceramic bearings and how they hold up over time.
What were the bearing challenges of this particular application and how did Boca meet these challenges?
Primarily constructed with three materials – 316 stainless steel, titanium and certain ceramics – nearly every component of this complex system depends on Boca’s ceramic bearings, almost all of which are dry running and corrosion resistant, providing consistent and long-term performance. We created a great video telling the story of the project, its mission and Boca Bearings’ role in this amazing project.
Why is it so important for your organisation to participate in projects such as this?
Participating in a project like this allows us to develop long-term thinking. We are all here for a certain period of time, and we have to make it count. Once in a while, we should take a moment to reflect about what we are doing on a long-term basis and ask ourselves, what are we going to pass on to future generations?
Boca Bearing Company will be exhibiting at Ceramics Expo 2018 at Booth 234