One company’s response to economic slowdown: expand
For Garrtech Inc., a manufacturer of blow molds for the PET/HDPE container and industrial markets, the Nineties were very good. So good, that nearly a decade of steady growth culminated with the const...
For Garrtech Inc., a manufacturer of blow molds for the PET/HDPE container and industrial markets, the Nineties were very good. So good, that nearly a decade of steady growth culminated with the construction of a new, custom-built 30,000 sq. ft. facility, opened in March, 2000. Ironically, it opened about the same time that Rob Fazackerley noticed a tapering off in business.
“I didn’t know if it was just a coincidence but almost as soon as we got into the new building our quotes dropped off,” says Fazackerley, vice president of sales. Indeed, Garrtech was seeing the first signals of the rocky business conditions that have taken their toll on the economy as a whole, and manufacturing in particular, over the past year.
While the Stoney Creek, ON-based operation has taken a number of steps to reduce costs in the face of declining numbers, it has also purchased several pieces of new equipment. The most significant purchase, says Fazackerley, is a high-speed machining centre with tooling and software from a European manufacturer. The machine has a surface feed rate over 800 in./min, with a spindle speed of approximately 30,000 rpm.
Although the decision to purchase equipment in a slowdown apparently runs counter to conventional business wisdom, Fazackerley says the timing made sense from both operational and strategic business viewpoints.
“We’ve been running flat-out for so long, the slowdown gave us an opportunity to focus on spindle power, and the capabilities of some of our equipment.”
In particular, Fazackerley says, the high-speed machining centre will improve throughput and open up new business opportunities.
“In the past we grew whenever our customers grew. We’re looking to expand our customer base and now, with this investment, we’re in a position to service new customers.”
After being forced to temporarily lay-off some of its employees, Garrtech now has everyone back at work. Fazackerley says quoting activity is starting to pick up, a sign that usually predicts an upswing in business. He says the company expects to purchase a larger version of the high-speed machining centre later this year.