Axiom forging ahead despite court case with Intier
By Tom Venetis, r
Axiom Group Inc. is not a company to rest on its laurels. Instead, it is forging ahead into new markets by using the engineering, tooling and molding expertise it has built up over many years working...
Axiom Group Inc. is not a company to rest on its laurels. Instead, it is forging ahead into new markets by using the engineering, tooling and molding expertise it has built up over many years working for the automotive industry.
The Aurora, Ont.-based company started up in 1987 as H&R Custom Moulds Ltd., providing tooling and moldmaking expertise to such companies as IBM Corp., Xerox Corp. and Northern Telecom. The quality of the company’s work was soon noticed, and according to Rocco Di Serio, one of the three owners and vice-president of Axiom, the company was recommended to Windo-Motion, a division of Intier Automotive Closures Inc., to help the company with its window regulators. Window regulators are the mechanical mechanisms used to raise and lower car windows.
Newmarket, Ont.-based Intier is a public company with controlling interest residing in Magna International Inc.
“It was a repair job at first, and then some prototyping and tooling work for the molds,” said Herbert Jahn, vice-president and another one of the owners of Axiom. “We were told that since we did such a good job on the prototypes (that’s why) they asked about production. (Windo-Motion) thought we knew the parts and the work needed [better] than anyone else . . . (and) Windo-Motion has kept us very busy; it seemed we had little time for a lot of other things.”
Working with a committed buyer provided lots of benefits, helpeing Axiom win design and preferred supplier awards, but the firm decided it was time to use its expertise to diversify into new markets.
Thus, Axiom’s LightShapes — a provider of decorative indoor and outdoor lighting solutions — was born.
One of the firm’s flagship products, LightSpheres, are large 15-inch spheres made up of 32 snap-together hexagons and pentagons to form a decorative lighting fixture. Molded from UV-resistant clear acrylic, LightSpheres are made to withstand a variety of different environments. So far, the product has received a good commercial response, Rizzo said.
Axiom recently patented a technology for making 300-micron screen filters, which could be used in filtration cartridges in heating and ventilation systems in automobiles, for example. Axiom developed a one-step method for manufacturing these cartridges and screen filters, without compromising the integrity of the micron screen.
Rizzo said this work proves Axiom is a dynamic and skilled firm, something he wants to make sure others understand, particularly in the wake of the court case between Axiom and Intier.
Last year, Intier, which according to Axiom, represents about 80 per cent of the sales for its plastic division and over 60 per cent of the company’s revenue, announced it would not guarantee any more long-term business and demanded price reductions of 31.8 per cent.
This shocked Di Serio, considering that Axiom had an excellent business relationship with Intier, he said. For example, Axiom won Intier’s Preferred Supplier of the Year Award in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Di Serio said Axiom also successfully worked to meet Intier’s demands for cost reductions and for increased capacity by opening a facility in Italy.
According to documents filed by Axiom and Intier with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Intier claimed Axiom was not price competitive. Intier claimed it had asked for the 31.8 per cent price deduction from the majority of its suppliers. This figure was based on competitive quotes in the industry, according to the court documents.
Axiom, in the court documents, argued that the Chinese and Canadian suppliers Intier quoted as being able to take over Axiom tools and molds to supply Intier at a lower cost were not asked to quote under the same terms and conditions as Axiom.
Di Serio said Intier’s demands would adversely harm the company and the only reason he can give for Intier’s action was to punish Axiom for finding alternative suppliers of certified resins, suppliers which were not recommended by Intier.
Because of the ongoing litigation, Intier, through its legal representative Chaitons LLP, said it would not be appropriate to comment on the case at this time.