To illustrate the impact of Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing Inc.’s decade-long investment in the most advanced technologies, Tim Galbraith reaches back to the cartoon shows of his childhood.
“We went from the Flintstones to the Jetsons,” said Galbraith, sales manager at the Windsor mold and tool maker for Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers in the automotive, heavy truck, sport recreation and agricultural sectors.
“Technology really is the key. You can’t do what you did yesterday and expect to be competitive tomorrow.”
Ten years ago, at the height of the Great Recession, Cavalier made the decision to invest in automation and new mold- making equipment – a move that has led to double digit sales growth as well as increases in employment and plant space.
It also has enabled Cavalier to best competitors in lower-cost jurisdictions, including Mexico and Asia.
“China doesn’t build molds that run in 13-second cycles,” said Brian Bendig, Cavalier‘s president, who travels the globe seeking new customers as well as the latest technologies and processes.
“Our molds run four times faster and last five times longer,” said Bendig.“We sell ourselves as Tylenol. We do things competitors can’t do. And we’re pain free.”
Last year, the 43-year-old company expanded its manufacturing footprint to 66,000 square feet, with the opening of a $12 million, 22,000 square-foot, state-of- the-art facility.
“We don’t have hammers and nail slammers anymore,” said Galbraith. “This is high-tech.”
The new addition features $6 million in big-ticket equipment, including $1 million worth of walking cranes under a 40-foot ceiling that can lift a 50-tonne hunk of steel mold and precision machinery that can cut a human hair 30 times over.
Cavalier’s custom machinery ‘is the best the world has to offer,” said Bendig, adding that the new facility, has accelerated the mold-making process by at least 20 per cent.
“Over the last 10 years, Cavalier‘s workforce has increased from 65 people to 140, proof that the company’s bet on automation has paid off with new job opportunities, Galbraith said. Maybe we lost the guys with no skills, who would pound pieces of steel. But we’ve got more opportunity than there ever has been, and there’ll be more coming. Cavalier Tool is always recruiting for the best and highly skilled tradespeople within our industry. With a high employee focus and culture, our atmosphere is second to none!”
Cavalier is among the more than 200 companies that have made Windsor-Essex a global centre in mold, tool and die manufacturing, a sector that has weather successive economic storms by embracing technology.
“We survived the 2008 recession; we survived the high dollar,” said Galbraith. “Our industry survived by saying ‘what kind of technology do we need to be more competitive.’”
Windsor-Essex companies are well positioned for a future that will see automation technology advance at an accelerating pace, said Bending.
“This region has spent more than 75 years creating a supply chain you won’t find anywhere in North America, maybe even Asia,” he said. “Who’s the best at automation? I think there is a heck of a big concentration here in Windsor and Essex County. There’s some smart people in a small geographic region.”
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