Rolling Motion rolls out next-gen traction drive

Start your engines: Inventor John Pawloski has turned the key, and his RMI Traction Drive is revving up.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Everywhere he goes, John Pawloski causes friction.

And that’s a good thing, especially for Rolling Motion Industries, Pawloski’s North Babylon-based 2016 startup. Rolling Motion is the exclusive (so far) manufacturer of the RMI Traction Drive, a super-efficient transmission system that masters “rolling friction” principles and aims to become an indispensable industrial cog.

It looks like the cog has legs: This month, Pawloski’s enterprise received its first order through a newly established distribution network, comprised primarily of “very deep-rooted companies that have been on Long Island for a long time and have a lot of experience in the power-transmission industry,” according to the entrepreneur.

Pawloski was tight-lipped about the order, noting only that it included five RMI Traction Drive units that would be manufactured at Rolling Motion’s North Babylon facility.

But the first sale through the three-distributor network is an important step for his startup, according to the founder, who still doubles as vice president of family-owned Jewelers Machinists Co. in North Babylon.

“It feels really good,” he told Innovate LI. “A lot of work went into it.”

And it’s just the start of what will be a big second half of 2017, according to Pawloski, who prognosticated that “things are going to go progressively up and up and up” from here.

In the works is a “larger distribution network across the country,” he said, with 10 regional distributors in busy markets including Michigan and Wisconsin not only offering the RMI Traction Drive, but helping to promote it.

Having in-market representatives hawking the transmission system directly to end users is a super advantage, Pawloski said, noting a wide range of potential uses already being discussed by potential traction-drive distributors – everything from a horse-sized X-ray machine to an industrial manure mixer.

“I never would have thought of that application,” the inventor noted.

Gaining traction: The RMI Traction Drive, coming soon to a distribution network near you.

But a wide range of applications was precisely what Pawloski had in mind for his alternative to standard belt-driven transmissions, especially when he focused Rolling Motion on commercializing a slightly smaller version of his original design.

“We stayed focused on the smaller-sized units to start with,” Pawloski noted. “Our goal, once we have the smaller units going, is to jump back into the golf cart industry and the large HVAC industry.

“But we had limited resources and we had to pick one to start with, and we started with the smaller ones because they’re easier to test and to manufacture.”

Keeping it small, to start, also allows Rolling Motion to keep it in the family, so to speak. The company’s 4,000-square-foot North Babylon facility can crank out about 200 RMI Traction Drive units per month, enough to get that national distributor network rolling.

After that, the network itself will kick in, with regional distributors reaching out to local contract manufacturers to pick up the slack as necessary.

Pawloski hopes it will be very necessary, noting “some advertising on our end, while the distribution network is going to do the majority of the advertising.”

“They’re going to put it on their websites and in their catalogues,” he added. “And they will have their representatives get it into the field.”

All of this should “certainly kick in by the fall,” according to Pawloski, who estimates that Rolling Motion – with outside manufacturing help – will be rolling out between 500 and 1,000 units per month by this time next year.

The entrepreneur referenced a “balancing act” in making sure regional distributors are comfortable with their designated sales areas. But that’s a good problem to have, he added, for a nine-month-old startup peddling a home-invented technology.

And with a whisper-quiet transmission system capable of efficiently moving parts inside everything from MRI machines to motor vehicles ready for the national stage, “we are going to be very strong, sales-wise,” Pawloski predicted.

“We should start seeing a profit within a couple of months,” he said. “And most of the manufacturing, at least to start, can be done on Long Island, and will be done here, which is good.”