I met Gary Kranz in 1987. He was the instructor for a hydraulics course provided by Rucker Fluid Power. My first day of the week-long class was a nightmare because Gary was a serious ass hole teacher and he jumped me for talking in class.
Gary was the best hydraulics person I have ever known. His motto was, “Be cautious of bull shit hydraulic sales people” because he believed they would change their stripes as fast as they changed jobs. Gary told his class that all hydraulic sales people will sell you what they represent that day. In other words the salesman might tell you that Vocac was the best hydraulic motor in the world because that is what their company represents but next week if the salesman leaves the company and now represents RexRoth then of course Rexroth is now the best product in the world. Gary was fired more than once for bad mouthing the sales staff of the company he was teaching. Gary never changed his ways and finally pissed off so many hydraulics suppliers that could not find a job so he ventured into his own business which he named Western Dynamics. APE invested in his company and stayed with him to the end.
I loved Gary for sticking to his principals. Gary was involved in designing the first APE power units which were built in Portland, Oregon at Rucker Fluid Power. Those power units still run and are considered the best units in the industry. Many of the main components on those power units were not products that Rucker Fluid Power represented. The owners and managers of Rucker would beg Gary to use what they represented but Gary would only use what he considered to be the best and was not swayed by pressure from Rucker Fluid Power or anyone else. It was his way or the highway but his final product was golden.
Gary handled APE’s sales staff the same way. He would tell them off in his own strong vulgar words. He would say there is no god and use his experiences in Vietnam as an example. He was hated and loved at APE. I, for one, wanted to choke him several times and I pledged many times never to work with him again when he would do or say things that were so out of line it would make me scream. But I would always come back to him because he was the best at understanding and troubleshooting hydraulic problems.
Gary was a fighter. He hated to lose. He won far more bets than he lost. One time when he lost a bet he could not come to admit the loss and finally said “Ok, you were right this time but that does not mean I have to like it”.
Gary fought to the very end with his battle with cancer. Just a week ago he was still working on a new manifold for our drills. He still had that drive in him, saying “when this f%$king manifold is done it will be the best thing in the world”. That was Gary. He put the fight into it. He was part of APE and we are all going to miss him greatly. Gary- we love you and thanks for keeping APE on top of the world hydraulically. God has to deal with you now and I am sure he has his hands full. We all know he would be too much for the devil to handle.
Everyone in this company has a Gary Kranz story. He touched us all.