Bently tour attracts 5,000 people to headquarters |

Bently tour attracts 5,000 people to headquarters

by Linda Hiller, staff writer

At least 5,000 more people now have a better idea of what Bently Nevada Corp. does behind closed doors, thanks to Saturday’s open house.

Curious neighbors, former employees and job seekers from around the area flocked to Bently’s new two-story, 283,000 square-foot building – large enough to hold four football fields per floor – for a tour aimed at demystifying the Carson Valley’s top employer and showing off the new building.

“The response to the open house definitely exceeded our expectations and, to me, reinforced the great quality of our employees,” said Alan Maxwell, Bently’s employment manager. “When we opened the doors Saturday, everyone was ready and enthusiastic and you could see how much people like to work here. It was a rewarding endeavor.”

Employees took turns explaining the company’s products. Bently makes vibration detection devices that are used in industrial companies worldwide.

The last Bently open house was five years ago, Maxwell said, in smaller, disjointed facilities to the west of the new building at 1631 Bently Parkway, off Buckeye Road in Minden. Eleven hundred people came to that open house, but Saturday’s quintupling of that figure was most likely due to the spectacular building, not to mention sending 45,000 post cards to residents of Minden, Gardnerville and Carson City, Maxwell said. The open house was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but most tour guides didn’t leave until after 6 p.m, he said.

n Personal tour guides. Carolyn Stillman, human resource representative, was one of 65 Bently greeters dressed in a khaki shirt with a Bently logo and black pants. She and the other tour guides led visitors through nearly every department.

The first stop on the tour was the manufacturing department, run by Rei Wahl. He oversees around 440 employees ranging from manufacturing engineers to assemblers in the manufacture of the vibration detection devices used by large industries including oil refineries, nuclear power plants and others.

“What we manufacture is like an EKG for a machine, which is a simple way of putting it,” Wahl said. “We love having this all under one roof now.”

The engineering department employs around 150 people in Minden and 250 worldwide, said Randy Chitwood, vice president of engineering.

From time to time, engineers from other countries come to Minden to work, Stillman said.

Shirley D’Souza, a software engineer from Mombai, India, said she is adjusting to Nevada life after one month, but wonders if she’ll last the three years she’s scheduled to stay.

D’Souza was one of 50 engineers who took three years to develop a hand-held computer to be used in detecting machinery malfunctions.

“This is right out of the oven,” said software engineer Ken Geglia. “It is definitely the latest technology.”

Marco Alcade, a mechanical engineer, demonstrated Bently Nevada’s newest technology, the hydrostatic bearing technology called a ServoFluidControl Bearing.

This is actually a response to years of saying “Hey, your machines are vibrating,” to companies who then asked, “Can you fix this?” he explained.

n Free food for all. Finally, tour goers were led to the cafeteria, Mary Evelyn’s Kitchen, named after Don Bently’s mother, where free hors d’oeuvres and drinks were available.

There, company founder, CEO and chairman of the board Don Bently, 75, and his son Chris, 31, vice chairman of the board, spoke with visitors and posed for pictures.

East Valley resident Brad Hollander handed Bently a check for $25 to help pay for a newspaper ad Bently ran in the Sept. 6 issue of The Record-Courier, in which he was critical of a development in Hollander’s neighborhood.

“I wish it was more money, but we just want to let you know we appreciate what you’re doing,” Hollander said as he presented the check to Bently’s thanks.

“This is the first time anyone has ever done this,” Bently said after Hollander left.

“I did it because we appreciate his involvement,” Hollander later said. “His voice and ours are similar. We live in East Valley and he has always helped us out when we’ve needed it.”

Bently Nevada employs more than 1,700 people in 80 sales and service offices in 42 countries, with $200 million in yearly sales. The Minden headquarters employs more than 900 people in combination with Bently Agrowdynamics, an agriculture-based business.

For more information on Bently Nevada Corp., visit their Web site,