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RBC Bearings Incorporated

We are an international manufacturer and marketer of highly engineered precision bearings and products, which are integral to the manufacture and operation of most machines, aircraft and mechanical systems, to reduce wear to moving parts, facilitate proper power transmission, reduce damage and energy loss caused by friction and control pressure and flow. While we manufacture products in all major categories, we focus primarily on highly technical or regulated bearing products and engineered products for specialized markets that require sophisticated design, testing and manufacturing capabilities. We believe our unique expertise has enabled us to garner leading positions in many of the product markets in which we primarily compete. Over the past fifteen years, we have broadened our end markets, products, customer base and geographic reach. We currently have 43 facilities of which 36 are manufacturing facilities in six countries.

The Bearing and Engineered Products Industry

The bearing and engineered products industry is a fragmented multi-billion dollar market. Purchasers of bearings and engineered products include producers of commercial and military aircraft, submarine and vehicle equipment, oil and gas equipment, machinery manufacturers, industrial equipment and machinery manufacturers, construction machinery manufacturers, rail and train equipment manufacturers, mining and specialized equipment manufacturers.

Demand for bearings and precision components in the diversified industrial market are influenced by growth factors in industrial machinery and equipment shipments and construction, mining, energy and general industrial activity. In addition, usage of existing machinery will impact aftermarket demand for replacement products. In the aerospace market, new aircraft build rates along with carrier traffic growth worldwide determines demand for our solutions. Lastly, activity in the defense market is being influenced by modernization programs necessitating spending on new equipment, as well as continued utilization of deployed equipment supporting aftermarket demand for replacement bearings and engineered products.

Customers and Markets

We serve a broad range of end markets where we can add value with our specialty, precision bearing and engineered products, components, and applications. We classify our customers into two principal categories: industrial and aerospace. These principal end markets utilize a large number of both commercial and specialized bearings and engineered products. Although we provide a relatively small percentage of total bearing and engineered products supplied to each of our overall principal markets, we believe we have leading market positions in many of the specialized product markets in which we primarily compete and serve. Financial information regarding geographic areas is set forth in Part II, Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data,” Note 18 “Reportable Segments.”

  • Industrial Market (34% of net sales for the fiscal year ended April 1, 2017)

We manufacture bearings and engineered products for a wide range of diversified industrial markets, including construction and mining, oil and natural resource extraction, heavy truck, marine, rail and train, packaging, semiconductor machinery and the general industrial markets. Our products target market applications in which our engineering and manufacturing capabilities provide us with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Our largest industrial customers include Caterpillar, Komatsu America, Newport News Shipbuilding and various aftermarket distributors including Applied Industrial, BDI Corporation, Kaman Corporation, McMaster Carr and Motion Industries. We believe that the diversification of our sales among the various segments of the industrial markets reduces our exposure to downturns in any one individual market. We believe opportunities exist for growth and margin improvement in this market as a result of the introduction of new products, the expansion of aftermarket sales and continued manufacturing process improvements.

  • Aerospace Market (66% of net sales for the fiscal year ended April 1, 2017)

We supply bearings and engineered products for use in commercial, private and military aircraft and aircraft engines, guided weaponry, and vision and optical systems. We supply precision products for many of the commercial aircraft currently operating worldwide and are their primary supplier for many of their product lines. This includes military contractors for airplanes, helicopters, missile systems, engines and satellites. Commercial aerospace customers generally require precision products, often of special materials, made to unique designs and specifications. Many of our aerospace bearing and engineered component products are designed and certified during the original development of the aircraft being served, which often makes us the primary bearing supplier for the life of the aircraft.

We manufacture bearings and engineered products used by the U.S. Department of Defense and certain foreign governments for use in fighter jets, troop transports, naval vessels, helicopters, gas turbine engines, armored vehicles, guided weaponry and satellites. We manufacture an extensive line of standard products that conform to many domestic military application requirements, as well as customized products designed for unique applications. Our bearings and engineered products are manufactured to conform to U.S. military specifications and are typically custom designed during the original product design phase, which often makes us the sole or primary supplier for the life of the product. In addition to products that meet military specifications, these customers often require precision products made of specialized materials to custom designs and specifications. Product approval for use on military equipment is often a lengthy process ranging from six months to six years.

Our largest aerospace customers include Airbus, Boeing, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Safran, United Technologies, U.S. Department of Defense and various aftermarket distributors including National Precision Bearing, Wencor Group and Wesco Aircraft. We believe our strong relationships with OEMs help drive our aftermarket sales since a portion of OEM sales are ultimately intended for use as replacement parts. We believe that growth and margin expansion in this market will be driven primarily by expanding our international presence, new commercial aircraft introductions, new products, and the refurbishment and maintenance of existing commercial and military aircraft.

In fiscal 2017, 4.2% of our net sales were made directly, and we estimate that approximately an additional 20.9% of our net sales were made indirectly, to the U.S. government. These contracts or subcontracts may be subject to renegotiation of profit or termination of contracts at the election of the government. We, based on experience, believe that no material renegotiations or refunds will be required. See Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors – Future reductions or changes in U.S. government spending could negatively affect our business.”


Bearings and engineered products are employed to fulfill several functions including reduction of friction, transfer of motion and carriage of loads, and control of pressure and flows. We design, manufacture and market a broad portfolio of bearings and engineered products. We operate through operating segments for which separate financial information is available, and for which operating results are evaluated regularly by our chief operating decision maker in determining resource allocation and assessing performance. Those operating segments with similar economic characteristics and that meet all other required criteria, including nature of the products and production processes, distribution patterns and classes of customers, are aggregated as reportable segments.

The following table provides a summary of our four reportable product segments: Plain Bearings; Roller Bearings; Ball Bearings; and Engineered Products.


Net Sales for the Fiscal Year Ended



April 1, 2017

April 2, 2016

March 28, 2015

Representative Applications

Plain Bearings 





Aircraft engine controls and landing gear
Missile launchers
Mining, energy, and construction equipment

Roller Bearings 




Aircraft hydraulics
Military and commercial truck chassis
Packaging machinery and gear pumps

Ball Bearings 

$  58,448

$  53,650

$  56,464

Radar and night vision systems
Airframe control and actuation
Semiconductor equipment

Engineered Products 

$  169,757

$  161,249

$  29,944

Hydraulics, valves and fasteners
Industrial gears, components and collets

Plain Bearings. Plain bearings are primarily used to rectify inevitable misalignments in various mechanical components, such as aircraft controls, helicopter rotors, or in heavy mining and construction equipment. Such misalignments are either due to machining inaccuracies or result when components change position relative to each other. Plain bearings are produced with either self-lubricating or metal-to-metal designs and consist of several sub-classes, including rod end bearings, spherical plain bearings and journal bearings.

Roller Bearings. Roller bearings are anti-friction products that utilize cylindrical rolling elements. We produce three main designs: tapered roller bearings, needle roller bearings and needle bearing track rollers and cam followers. We offer several needle roller bearing designs that are used in both industrial applications and certain U.S. military aircraft platforms. These products are generally specified for use where there are high loads and the design is constrained by space considerations. A significant portion of the sales of this product is to the aftermarket. Needle bearing track rollers and cam followers have wide and diversified use in the industrial market and are often prescribed as a primary component in articulated aircraft wings.

Ball Bearings. Ball bearings are devices which utilize high precision ball elements to reduce friction in high speed applications. We specialize in four main types of ball bearings: high precision aerospace, airframe control, thin section and industrial ball bearings. High precision aerospace bearings are primarily sold to customers in the defense industry that require more technically sophisticated bearing products, such as missile guidance systems, providing higher degrees of fault tolerance given the criticality of the applications in which they are used. Airframe control ball bearings are precision ball bearings that are plated to resist corrosion and are qualified under a military specification. Thin section ball bearings are specialized bearings that use extremely thin cross sections and give specialized machinery manufacturers many advantages. We produce a general line of industrial ball bearings sold primarily to the aftermarket.

Engineered Products. Engineered Products consist primarily of highly engineered hydraulics and valves, fasteners, precision mechanical components and machine tool collets. Engineered hydraulics and valves are used in aircraft and submarine applications and aerospace and defense aftermarket services. Precision mechanical components are used in all general industrial applications, where some form of movement is required. Machine tool collets are cone-shaped metal sleeves, used for holding circular or rod like pieces in a lathe or other machine that provide effective part holding and accurate part location during machining operations.

Product Design and Development

We produce specialized bearings and engineered products that are often tailored to the specifications of a customer or application. Our sales professionals are highly experienced engineers who collaborate with our customers on a continual basis to develop bearing and engineered product solutions. The product development cycle can follow many paths which are dependent on the end market or sales channel. The process normally takes between 3-6 years from concept to sale depending upon the application and the market. A common route that is used for major OEM projects begins when our design engineers meet with their customer counterparts at the machine design conceptualization stage and work with them through the conclusion of the product development.

Often, at the early stage, a bearing design or engineered product concept is produced that addresses the expected demands of the application. Environmental demands are many but normally include load, stress, heat, thermal gradients, vibration, lubricant supply, pressure and flows, and corrosion resistance, with one or two of these environmental constraints being predominant in the design consideration. A bearing or engineered product design must perform reliably for a period of time specified by the customer's product objectives.

Once a bearing or engineered product is designed, a mathematical simulation is created to replicate the expected application environment and thereby allow optimization with respect to these design variables. Upon conclusion of the design and simulation phase, samples are produced and laboratory testing commences at one of our test laboratories. The purpose of this testing phase is not only to verify the design and the simulation model but also to allow further design improvement where needed. Finally, upon successful field testing by the customer, the product is ready for sale.

For the majority of our products, the culmination of this lengthy process is the receipt of a product approval or certification, generally obtained from either the OEM, the Department of Defense or the Federal Aviation Administration, or “FAA,” which allows us to supply the product to the customer and to the aftermarket. We currently have in excess of 69,730 of such approvals, which often gives us a competitive advantage, and in many of these instances we are the only approved supplier of a given bearing or engineered product.

Manufacturing and Operations

Our manufacturing strategies are focused on product reliability, quality and service. Custom and standard products are produced according to manufacturing schedules that ensure maximum availability of popular items for immediate sale while carefully considering the economies of lot production and special products. Capital programs and manufacturing methods development are focused on quality improvement, production costs and service. A monthly review of product line production performance assures an environment of continuous attainment of profitability and quality goals.

Capacity. Our plants currently run on a full first shift with second and third shifts at selected locations to meet the demands of our customers. We believe that current capacity levels and future annual estimated capital expenditures on equipment up to approximately 3.5% to 4.0% of net sales should permit us to effectively meet demand levels for the foreseeable future.

Inventory Management. Our increasing emphasis on OEM service and the distributor/aftermarket sector has required us to maintain greater inventories of a broader range of products than the OEM market historically demanded. This requires a greater investment in working capital to maintain these levels. We operate an inventory management program designed to balance customer delivery requirements with economically optimal inventory levels. In this program, each product is categorized based on characteristics including order frequency, number of customers and sales volume. Using this classification system, our primary goal is to maintain a sufficient supply of standard items while minimizing costs. In addition, production cost savings are achieved by optimizing plant scheduling around inventory levels and customer delivery requirements. This leads to more efficient utilization of manufacturing facilities and minimizes plant production changes while maintaining sufficient inventories to service customer needs.

Sales, Marketing and Distribution

Our marketing strategy is aimed at increasing sales within our two primary markets, targeting specific applications in which we can exploit our competitive strengths. To affect this strategy, we seek to expand into geographic areas not previously served by us and we continue to capitalize on new markets and industries for existing and new products. We employ a technically proficient sales force and utilize marketing managers, product managers, customer service representatives and product application engineers in our selling efforts.

We have developed our sales force through the hiring of sales personnel with prior industry experience, complemented by an in-house training program. We intend to continue to hire and develop expert sales professionals and strategically locate them to implement our expansion strategy. Today, our direct sales force is located to service North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America and is responsible for selling all of our products. This selling model leverages our relationship with key customers and provides opportunities to market multiple product lines to both established and potential customers. We also sell our products through a well-established, global network of industrial and aerospace distributors. This channel primarily provides our products to smaller OEM customers and the end users of bearings and engineered products that require local inventory and service. Our worldwide distributor network provides our customers with more than 5,557 points of sale for our products. We intend to continue to focus on building distributor sales volume.

The sale of our products is supported by a well-trained and experienced customer service organization. This organization provides customers with instant access to key information regarding their purchase and delivery requirements. We also provide customers with updated information through our website, and we have developed on-line integration with specific customers, enabling more efficient ordering and timely order fulfillment for those customers.

We store product inventory in warehouses located in the Midwest, Southwest and on the East and West coasts of the U.S. as well as in France and Switzerland. The inventory is located in these locations based on analysis of customer demand to provide superior service and product availability.


Our principal competitors include SKF, New Hampshire Ball Bearings, Rexnord, PCC, Arkwin and Timken, although we compete with different companies for each of our product lines. We believe that for the majority of our products, the principal competitive factors affecting our business are product qualifications, product line breadth, service, quality and price. Although some of our current and potential competitors may have greater financial, marketing, personnel and other resources than us, we believe that we are well positioned to compete with regard to each of these factors in each of the markets in which we operate.

Product Qualifications. Many of the products we produce are qualified for the application by the OEM, the U.S. Department of Defense, the FAA or a combination of these agencies. These credentials have been achieved for thousands of distinct items after years of design, testing and improvement. In many cases patent protection presides, in most cases there is strong brand identity and in numerous cases we have the exclusive product for the application.

Product Line Breadth. Our products encompass an extraordinarily broad range of designs which often create a critical mass of complementary bearings and engineered products for our markets. This position allows many of our industrial and aerospace customers the ability for a single manufacturer to provide the engineering service and product breadth needed to achieve a series of OEM design objectives and/or aftermarket requirements. This ability enhances our value to the OEM considerably while strengthening our overall market position.

Service. Product design, performance, reliability, availability, quality and technical and administrative support are elements that define the service standard for this business. Our customers are sophisticated and demanding, as our products are fundamental and enabling components to the construction or operation of their machinery. We maintain inventory levels of our most popular items for immediate sale and service. Our customers have high expectations regarding product availability and quality, and the primary emphasis of our service efforts is to ensure the widest possible range of available products and delivering them on a timely basis.

Price. We believe our products are priced competitively in the markets we serve. We continually evaluate our manufacturing and other operations to maximize efficiencies in order to reduce costs, eliminate unprofitable products from our portfolio and maximize our profit margins. We invest considerable effort to develop our price to value algorithms and we price to market levels where required by competitive pressures.

Suppliers and Raw Materials

We obtain raw materials, component parts and supplies from a variety of sources and generally from more than one supplier. Our principal raw material is steel. Our suppliers and sources of raw materials are based in the U.S., Europe and Asia. We purchase steel at market prices, which fluctuate as a result of supply and demand driven by economic conditions in the marketplace. For further discussion of the possible effects of changes in the cost of raw materials on our business, see Part I, Item 1A. “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.


As of April 1, 2017, we had order backlog of $354.1 million compared to a backlog of $346.4 million in the prior fiscal year. The amount of backlog includes orders which we estimate will be fulfilled within the next 12 months; however, orders included in our backlog are subject to cancellation, delay or other modifications by our customers prior to fulfillment. We sell many of our products pursuant to contractual agreements, single source relationships or long-term purchase orders, each of which may permit early termination by the customer. However, due to the nature of many of the products supplied by us and the lack of availability of alternative suppliers to meet the demands of such customers' orders in a timely manner, we believe that it is not practical or prudent for most of our customers to shift their business to other suppliers.


We had 2,009 hourly employees and 1,392 salaried employees as of April 1, 2017, of whom 1,071 were employed in our international operations. As of April 1, 2017, 181 of our hourly employees were represented by unions in the U.S and 58 were represented by a union in Canada. We believe that our employee relations are satisfactory.

We are subject to four collective bargaining agreements covering substantially all of the hourly employees at our Fairfield, Connecticut, West Trenton, New Jersey, Plymouth, Indiana, and Montreal, Canada plants. These agreements expire on January 31, 2018, June 30, 2017, October 30, 2018, and June 23, 2018, respectively.