Riding the Wave
- February 9, 2017
A no-nonsense approach to business spurs growth for Ontario waterjet fabricator
When Fred Jones joined Ament Waterjet in 2008, a metal fabrication shop in Linwood, ON, located near St. Jacobs, home to a large rural community, it had two waterjet machines.
Today, the business, now known as the Ament Group, operates three Flow abrasive waterjet machines out of its Linwood, ON, facility, another Techni Waterjet five axis abrasive waterjet machine in a recently opened second facility in Maxwell, ON, and has just purchased two additional Flow waterjet machines for a third facility it plans to open in the near future.
Asked what he attributes to Ament Group’s success in a competitive market, Fred Jones, operations manager, says it’s a combination of factors.
“We have a huge network of other shops in the area, small shops like ours that we call upon when we need them to take on jobs we can’t take on. It’s like a job shop cooperative and we work well together. Another important aspect is how we work. We don’t spend time in meetings discussing strategies; we just work. We come in in the morning and turn on the machines and we cut, and when we’re done the jobs that need to be done for that day, we stop.”
He adds that estimators work directly with shop foreman Paul Sargent.
As a job shop, Ament cuts a variety of materials for numerous industries, but its mainstay metals are aluminum, stainless steel and steel, and the main markets it serves are agricultural machinery, automotive, as well as general industrial and architectural. The three machines in the Linwood shop operate at pressures ranging from 60,000 psi to 90,000 psi and can cut materials up to 152.4 mm (6 in.) thicknesses, although the shop has cut some plate up to 254 mm (10 in.) thick.
Asked why the company selected Flow waterjets, Jones, a 18-year veteran of the waterjet cutting industry, says that for him, they’re simply the best machines he’s worked on.
“We get great cut quality and they’re easy to run. Especially the XD series, which is our newest machine that runs at 90,000 psi. It’s a gantry style, rack and pinion drive system and it’s awesome.”
Waterjet’s cutting flexibility is also a big plus. While Ament cuts a lot of metal alloys, it also cuts foam, rubber, ceramic, glass and wood products for a number of customers. And those customers aren’t just local either. Jones says the company has done work for companies in New York, Arizona and California.
Jones attributes part of Ament Group’s success to networking and the relationships the company has established with manufacturers in the industry.
One such relationship is with Derek Loebsack, owner of Loeback Waterjet Canada Ltd. Loeback and Jones’s relationship spans 18 years.
“Derek and I have been in the waterjet business in the Kitchener/Waterloo area since 1988 and we know pretty much all the waterjet shops in the area. I’ve worked for two other shops and Derek has worked for a few as well, so we know what’s going on in this industry. Both our names are well known in the industry and we now both do work for the companies we used to work for because we’ve maintained a good relationship with them.”
Jones doesn’t measure Ament Group’s success simply by the number of machines the company operates. Instead, he measures it by how much of the time the machines are cutting.
“One way we gauge our success is by asking the garnet suppliers how much garnet they’re going through and when they tell me, I know we’re using four times the garnet that they’ve sold, so I know we’re cutting a lot more than most shops.”
The networking Jones references includes delivery services. Several years ago, Ament Group opened a delivery company that has since branched off into a separate operation but continues to deliver customer orders.
“Our normal turn around time is two to three days, but if a customer needs products sooner, we simply work through the night if we have to, to get parts delivered when that customer needs them.” SMT