Surviving in Canada’s competitive job shops market
- March 30, 2015
Labrador Metal Works Inc.,
Wabush, NF and Bathurst, NB
The business was formed in 1976 and operates out of two facilities in Newfoundland and New Brunswick that total 3,716, sq m (40,000 sq ft). The shop serves the mining industry and specializes in custom steel fabrication, machining and equipment repairs. Recently, the plant underwent an expansion to accommodate lifting of heavier sections for repair work. Key equipment includes a CNC press brake, high definition plasma table, plate roll, ironworkers, OH cranes, band saws, line boring and a full service machine shop.
Chris Pitre, general manager says the company has a 20-year plan of controlled growth. “It’s all based on doing the right things for our customers and focusing on the long term goals rather than short term gains.”
Velocity Welding & Machining Inc., Dartmouth, NS
The full service machine, welding and fabrication shop formed in 2000 operates out of a 1,068 sq m (11,500 sq ft) facility and specializes in custom manufacturing including waterjet cutting, repairs and rebuilds, and engineering. Through the use of 3D CAD software, it can produce complete product designs from prototypes and small runs to complete custom machines and assemblies. The shop serves the R&D, prototyping, energy, aerospace, mining, shipping and general fabrication and repair markets.
In the next five years, president Sean MacPhee says he expects to see continued growth, “which will likely come through acquisitions since we are at capacity in our current facility when it comes to installing additional equipment.”
Tripar Inc., Montreal, QC
The metal fabrication shop was formed in 1949 by Ben Sevack and is now run by three generations of the Sevack family, including Ben’s son Lloyd, who is president, and Lauren, Lloyd’s daughter, who is the sales and marketing executive. The 6,039 sq m (65,000 sq ft) facility sits on 12,077 sq m (130,000 sq ft) of land. The main markets served are lighting, automotive, aerospace, general industrial, medical and woodworking. The company specializes in progressive and deep drawing metal stamping, but also houses press brakes and laser cutting equipment, and a toolroom for the manufacture of dies. It recently invested in a 200 ton press and heat treating capabilities for its tool room, and implemented a barcode system in production and 3D tool designing software. President Lloyd Sevack expect sales to grow 15 per cent in 2016 “and in the next five years, 100 per cent growth in sales, expanding our facility by 50,000 sq ft, and expanding operations in the US with acquisition of a metal shop around New York.”
St. Hubert Machine Shop, St. Hubert, QC
St. Hubert Machine Shop was formed in 1979 by Giovanni Barile and is now run by sons David and Cosmo. The 2,323 sq m (25,000 sq ft) shop specializes in gear manufacturing and repairs and employs 60 people, with 50 working on the shop floor. Fabricating services include sheet metal bending, shearing and welding, and machining services such as gear cutting, vertical boring and gear hobbing. The shop is equipped with the latest gear making technology that allows it to make any gear without an OEM print. The shop serves a variety of industries including mining, cement, hydro electric, wind farms, metal smelters, pulp and paper, packaging and printing and equipment manufacturers.
The company has been steadily growing outside of Canada. “Our biggest market is South America, but we also do business in the US and South Africa. We’re strategic in our growth and it takes years, and a lot of time and money to develop in new offshore markets,” says David Barile.
Tool Room Services, Burlington, ON
Tool Room Services was formed in 1978 and acquired by Mike Connelly in 1983. The 2,340 sq m (24,000 sq ft ) CNC machine shop services primarily the nuclear and aerospace industries and specializes in non-standard, difficult applications. The facility is capable of machining round parts up to 2 m in diameter, milling parts 2 m by 1 m by 1 m, offers five axis machining capability and has the capacity to lift up to 5,000 kg. Machining equipment includes CNC turning centres, vertical boring mills, CNC machining centres, as well as manual mills, lathes and grinders. It also offers broaching, radial drilling, bandsaw cutting and MIG, TIG and stick welding services.
President Mike Connelly’s goal is to invest in technology to stay ahead of the curve. “We aim to be debt free. Every year we buy one machine to stay up to date; if you fall behind you can’t catch up. Doing it gradually is easier to do. I do most of my financing through Royal Bank, but they don’t like me because I don’t owe them enough money.”
Camatech Inc., Acton, ON
Camatech was formed in 2000 in a 1,208 sq m (13,00 sq ft) facility. The business specializes in components for alternative fueling, industrial and general aviation for high technology companies. The shop houses 15 precision CNC machines, including five axis, horizontal and vertical machining centres and lathes with live tooling. It sets itself apart by providing full service from prototype to production and can handle small, medium and large production runs. President Ed Smith is looking to grow the business.
“We are trying to increase our sales in the aerospace sector this year, and hopefully gain some inroads in the military sector over the next five years.”
Kehfab Ltd., Steinbach, MB
Ron and Denise Kehler formed Kehfab Ltd. in 2007. The sheet metal fabrication shop is housed in a 1,041 sq ft (11,200 sq ft) shop and primarily manufactures ducting for residential and commercial markets. It also fabricates custom parts for a variety of different customers, such as farms, restaurants and interior/exterior design work. The shop houses plasma cutting equipment, as well as bending, rolling and resistance and arc welding equipment. The company expanded recently with the addition of a second pm shift and the purchase of new machinery. “We aim to manufacture more products and automate some of the processes we currently use,” says Ron Kehler.
SCT Welding, Laser & Manufacturing Co., Winnipeg, MB
Shane Kulathungam runs SCT Welding, Laser & Manufacturing Co. with his father, Raj, who formed it in 1986. The 7,000 sq m (75,000 sq ft) shop specializes in heavy duty, small batch runs in a lean manufacturing operation and employs 62 people. The company offers laser cutting, forming, plate and tube rolling, and paint finishing (powder coatings and wet paint) services, as well as flux core, MIG and TIG welding. It works with customers in the automotive, transportation and agriculture sectors. Recently the company diversified into the electrical enclosure business with its own product. “We’re trying to gear in that direction and see this aspect of our business growing because there is less competition in this area than in general metalworking.”
Quin-Ko Custom Machining Ltd., Red Deer, AB
Chris Koenning formed his company in 2009, in the midst of the recession, but despite that, in its fifth year of business, it surpassed $1 million in sales. The 613 sq m (6,600 sq ft) machine shop services the oil and gas industry, but also works with customers in the agricultural, medical and forestry sectors. Primary machinery includes CNC milling, machining centres and manual mills and lathes. The shop is capable of handling a variety of jobs, from prototyping and small batch runs to large production orders. Koenning’s growth plan is a conservative one.
“We have a five year and ten year plan. Between five and ten years we’ll have our own building of about 14,000 sq ft and we’ll lease part of it out. Purchasing property instead of leasing is very important to me because assets appreciate. I think we’re going to have some solid years. Even through the recession there was work going on, you just needed to get out and find it. You can achieve any goal, but you need to work hard at it and many people today don’t know how to do that.”
Herma-Tech Mechanical Corp., Calgary, AB
Peter Hermann formed Herma-Tech Mechanical Corp. in 1987 in Calgary, AB. As medium shop of 743 sq m (8,000 sq ft), Hermann has set his shop apart by focusing on complex, precision jobs for the oil and gas industry and related industries such as research and pipeline inspection, with quick turn around times. The shop is set up with four and five axis milling and turning and welding. As for the future, his succession plan is a work in progress.
“I’m approaching an age where I have a few more years of investing heavily in technology that will carry the business forward for five to seven years. As for technology, I think the future will be in multi-tasking machines. We’re not going to see the traditional milling and turning ten years from now. If I had more time in my career I would consider multi-tasking machines and hire people to run this technology.”
KSM Stainless Fabricators, Langley, BC
KSM Stainless Fabricators was formed in 1977 and operates out of a 1,486 sq m (16,000 sq ft) facility. The shop specializes in stainless steel, mild steel and aluminum fabrication. It houses laser cutting and forming equipment and services the general industrial market, including transportation, food and science labs. The company began as a fabrication shop with precision forming and fabricating equipment and expanded in 1997 with a laser division and the purchase of laser cutting equipment. The company operates on a Just-In-Time schedule.
Owner Lisa Burgess is optimistic about future growth.
“We expect to increase our sales over the previous year. In the next couple of years, we plan to replace aging equipment with new technology.”