PETERBOROUGH — New Hampshire Ball Bearings has been a part of the community since 1946, and generations of local residents have helped make the world go round by manufacturing millions of metal balls.
The company, which produces ball bearings used in aerospace, auto racing and medical applications, employs nearly 700 people at its Peterborough facility, and another 800 at its plants in Laconia and Chatsworth, CA.
NHBB was purchased by a Japanese conglomerate called Minebea in 1985, but the company has stayed true to its roots, said Jack Burnett, executive director of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s a really great company, not just because of the number of employees, but because of the quality of their presence in the community,” Burnett said. “They have helped us in our educational programs in the schools for decades and decades, even when the ownership changed.”
From funding scholarships and sponsoring programs to rewarding local school kids for being good citizens, Burnett said the management at NHBB understands the importance of participating in the community. “They get it,” Burnett said. “They understand that everybody has to work together.”
At the NHBB HiTech plant in Peterborough, three shifts of employees spend their workdays making ball bearings that are used in commercial and military aviation, said Hans Baker, the company’s communications project manager.
The bearings can be found inside jet engines, in the rotors of helicopters, and in the landing gear on both. Gear boxes and engine mounts also include bearings made in Peterborough. They range in size from just under an inch to 12 inches in diameter, and are generally made of stainless steel, said Baker.
Burnett said he has faith in Peterborough’s biggest employer.
“The disaster was bad news,” he said, “But the good news is that New Hampshire Ball Bearings is strong as steel.”