Watch out for those sneaky cheeseheads!

Meeting Tom Nelson and John Erskine, you might suppose that they are two good ol' boys from Racine, doing their bit with their old-line company, Racine Federated Inc. But underneath that cheesehead exterior are extremely smart men who understand the automation business. Yesterday, Racine Federated announced the acquisition of the J-Tec vortex meter product line. While J-Tec has had habitual quality difficulties, their designs have been out in front of the market, and they have a significant installed user base. Suddenly, RFI is becoming a force to reckon with in the flowmeter business, having quietly sucked up Blancett turbine meters, Dynasonics ultrasonic meters, Preso differential pressure and multiple port pitot meters, and now vortex shedding meters, as well as their core flowmeter business, the Hedland variable area meters. RFI is also quite profitable, and has just moved into a huge new facility in Racine that just happened to be the former Danfoss drives plant. There are some obvious holes in the RFI product line, but knowing Nelson and his boss John Erskine, they are quietly working on a way to fill those holes, that won't be what anybody expects. Comments? --Walt Boyes