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New era begins for an Oldcastle tool shop

Cutting-Edge Technologies partners with U.S. company.


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May 13, 2015 by Canadian Plastics

Sean O'Neil, president of Cutting-Edge Technologies Ltd., on the shop floor.  The company will be undergoing a US$10 million expansion and hiring spree due to a partnership with an American-based company.  (DAX MELMER/The Windsor Star)

Sean O’Neil, president of Cutting-Edge Technologies Ltd., on the shop floor. The company will be undergoing a US$10 million expansion and hiring spree due to a partnership with an American-based company. (Photo Credit: DAX MELMER/The Windsor Star)

What with all the bumps in Canadian-American economic relations lately — did someone say Keystone XL pipeline? — it’s nice to be reminded that both sides can, in fact, make mutually beneficial arrangements.

Take Oldcastle, Ont.-based Cutting-Edge Technologies Ltd., for example. The tool and mold shop is undergoing a US$10 million-plus expansion, with plans to double its capacity and workforce over the next 18 months, thanks to a new partnership with a Michigan firm. Proper Group International, a Warren, Mich.-based injection mold maker, has acquired a majority ownership interest in Cutting-Edge — and both companies see it as a big step forward.

Founded by Sean O’Neil in April 2001, Cutting-Edge specializes in high-precision machining services for the tool, mold and die sector. The investment will allow the company to not only better serve current customers with even higher precision, value-added machining, but also branch out into the design and building of molds. “Proper Group was a customer of ours, and is one of the largest mold builders in the U.S.,” O’Neil said. “We’re going to start building molds for them and supporting their tooling business in Canada, and plan to branch out into our own customer base as well.”

CHANGE AND CONTINUITY
Despite its long history with Proper Group, the move is a relatively unexpected one for Cutting-Edge. “We had always been strictly a subcontract shop, offering specialized services, and were not really looking to get into mold building,” O’Neil said. “But my long-time partner wanted to retire, and I was looking for a partner to move the business forward. I was approached by Proper Group, which was looking for a foothold in Canada.” The new ownership structure leaves O’Neil firmly in charge, and with the existing Cutting-Edge management team in place.

“Part of the $10 million investment includes expanding our manufacturing area and our engineering and design spaces, adding new equipment, and employee training and recruitment,” O’Neil said. “Our workforce of 35 could more than double if the company can recruit skilled trades workers. We’re looking for talent in every aspect of mold building, from designers to engineers to machinists. Our biggest challenge would definitely be manpower, which is not a new problem in this industry. Our growth will depend on finding the right talent.”

That challenge aside, O’Neil is enthused by the prospect of what could rightly be called Cutting-Edge 2.0. “This is an exciting opportunity for our company, especially the employees on the shop floor — it will open up internal advancements that weren’t available to our staff before,” he said. “It will also open up new opportunities for our customers because, once we get into our new equipment acquisitions, we’ll be able to offer them services that we couldn’t before.”