Belts, bearings, and Braintree

February 21, 2014
by Candace Harrell, Correspondent

A successful company that conducts business with four countries outside the United States, married to your childhood sweetheart – it sounds like a dream. But as Ric Carmona can tell you, to see a dream to fulfillment takes hard work and determination.

“It was always my dream to do what I do, to own my own company,” said Carmona, owner of F&F Bearing Company, a wholesale import-export company, situated in the Braintree Business Development Center in downtown Mansfield. Carmona works with his wife, Rita Bauer, who manages the financials, and Sharon Norman, of Crestline, who handles outside sales.

Carmona, a mechanical engineer and native of Brazil, moved to the United States in 1979.

A friend in Brazil, who worked in import-export, encouraged Carmona to start his own import-export venture. Carmona, who worked for General Motors (GM) at the time, took the challenge, and began exporting recycled bearings.

“We extracted scrap bearings from old motors,” said Carmona, who disassembled and cleaned up the bearings in his garage. The bearings were shipped to Brazil for use as rollers in windows and other applications.

As the business grew, and Carmona maintained his position with GM, he realized he would need help. A friend suggested he hire some local Amish men to do the labor of extracting and cleaning the bearings, which Carmona did after making some alterations to his method so that the process could be done without electricity.

After a few years, the market in China opened up and Carmona began importing new bearings and exporting them to Brazil.

GM transferred Carmona to Mexico as a Project Manager, where he continued to prosper.

“Then when I was in Mexico, we found out we could get ‘V-belts’, noted Carmona, who then came up with the IPT logo. Carmona explained that IPT stands for “Industrial Transmission Product”, but is arranged the way the words would appear in Spanish or Portuguese, with the adjective after the noun rather than before, as in English.

Once launching his venture into V-belts, Carmona discovered he already had a customer base in the Amish community that had processed bearings for him.

“We were doing very well there, and I was exporting from Mexico to the United States,” said Carmona.

Carmona returned to the United States and eventually left GM. In 2006, he met Bob Cohen, CEO of Braintree Business Development Center, and moved into the Braintree building that same year.

Braintree was instrumental in finding funding for Carmona to expand his business, noted Carmona.

Carmona has since developed two belts of his own, as well as diversified into sprockets, pulleys, chains, a variety of belts, in addition to bearings, bolts, and oil seals. The oil seals, according to Carmona, are part of a kit used to repair power steering units, made in Ohio.

F&F Bearing Company does business with Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Asian countries. F&F Bearing Company also partners with Interbrax, a company based in Brazil that works to reduce the risk of conducting international business.

Carmona noted that being a Braintree resident has been a great advantage, “It’s almost like a community. Everyone has their own business, but we help each other.”

Carmona’s experience has made him a valuable resource to Braintree.

“Ric has been active in Braintree activities and has served as a resource for other tenant companies,” said Cohen. “In some cases he has helped companies translate print and digital materials into Spanish or Portuguese, and has been a featured speaker at some high profile events. He has been a role model for other aspiring entrepreneurs.”

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