Location: Pointe Claire, QC
Years in Business: 19
Key manufacturing Processes: CNC machining-milling, turning, grinding, welding
Recent investment: $4 million investment in unattended machining cell
Mariusz Lubczynski calls the success of KLFLO CNC Machining “a Cinderella story.”
He and his business partner Jacek Kaspszyk, Polish natives who arrived in Canada in the late 80s, formed the precision machine shop on December 17, 1993. In the first year, the company made $17,000. In the second year, the partners purchased their first CNC machine. Today, the 16,000 sq ft machine shop in Point-Claire, QC, includes a lights-out manufacturing cell.
“We put in a lot of hours, working almost 20 hours a day in the first few years. We knew the statistics—70 per cent of company start-ups go out of business within three years,” says Lubczynski. “We were determined to succeed. It was very tough but we didn’t get discouraged. We knew we had to pay our dues. We both put everything into the business.”
Hard word paid off. Within six years of operation, the machine shop was busy machining parts using turning machines, and three and fix axis milling for some large OEMs, including a major customer in the telecommunications business. KLFLO hit a turning point several years ago when this same major customer in the telecommunications business said KLFLO would have to cut its price by 50 per cent if it wanted to keep the business or he would take his work to China.
“He came back with a quote from China and I said we can’t compete with that price,” recalls Lubczynski. He didn’t want to take the work there but because of the price, he could save money. One year later, unhappy with the quality of work, he came back to us again and that’s when we said to him we can do the part but we need your cooperation.”
That cooperation resulted in KLFLO’s $4 million investment in the new Matsuura manufacturing cell from Elliott Matsuura. The customer agreed to provide KLFLO with a long-term commitment with contracts and contributed to the purchase of the machining cell.
“It was a high risk investment but sometimes in business you have to take the risk when you see an opportunity. We still have this business today, have been running it for three years and will be busy for the next few more years with this contract.”
The investment included a move to a new, larger 16,000 sq ft machine shop to accommodate the new manufacturing cell designed to run unattended for 48 hours. The cell operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and consists of three Matsuura four axis machines and one Matsuura five axis model equipped with 52, 500 mm-long pallets for automatic part loading and unloading.
Lubczynski says “the system has worked flawlessly since it was first installed. The learning curve, to our surprise, was short. It took four weeks to install it and then approximately five weeks to run and fine tune it. It has not stopped running and it’s paying itself off pretty quickly.”
The lights-out manufacturing sets KLFLO apart from its competitors, but Lubczynski says it’s just one of many reasons.
“What we do—precision machining for high end markets—we do really well. Our strength is in our relationship with our clients; it’s what has really made us successful. We discuss with our clients the cost of designing and machining a part. We look at whether we can make it in a way that achieves the same results the customer wants with less machining and less cost. In this way, we help our clients to reduce their manufacturing costs and strengthen our relationships with them.”
Lubczynski and partner Kaspszyk are optimistic about their company’s future. For one thing, the company has several new projects slated to start in a few months, long term projects that have them eyeing new machinery investments.
“We want to purchase another three machines—a lathe and two more milling machines,” says Lubczynski. “Our forecast for 2012 is that it will be much better than last year. We are a small machine shop and we have to survive; we will do whatever we can to stay in business and continue to make it work.”