Last Friday, Algood celebrated its 53rd birthday. Much has changed since our father, Max Guttmann, started Algood in 1969. But there’s a lot of truth to the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There’s no question that looking at Algood then and now creates a portrait in contrasts (as you will see in the photos below). While my brother, Sean and I strive to make our own mark on the company, we feel our father’s presence and the values he held dear every day. And now, there’s a new generation who will add their very own touches to the culture and tradition that are so much a part of who we are.
Our father was a tool and die man, making stampings for brake drums. When the opportunity arose, he borrowed $3,000 to buy the machinery to make casters. He had two lines – one for small furniture like the TV dolly pictured below and one for office chairs. It was small and easy to manage. Then in 1972, he showed his competitors that he was a fighter by acquiring his own injection moulding equipment, which allowed him to produce plastic and urethane wheels. Perhaps more than any other business decision, that one made him the master of his own destiny.
Max was a problem-solver and a creative one at that. When the people at McCullough were struggling to produce a shroud for their chain saws with ten dies, he found a way to do it with three. That earned him a trip to L.A. Later, he found was one of the first people in the industry to find a way to simultaneously lock the wheel and the swivel on a caster. The ALock is a mainstay of our available brake options to this day.
If our father could see Algood today he would be blown away by the equipment and the processes as well as by the number of people that work here and the sheer volume of casters we produce in any given week. At the same time, there is much that would be familiar.
My father never forgot how he was welcomed to Canada as an immigrant. He made a point of helping other refugees families get settled in Canada, including the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s. He also maintained a strong commitment to doing business in Canada and supporting other Canadian businesses. A number of years ago, with Dad’s principles in mind, we made a major commitment to invest in our own equipment and our future here in Canada. The events of the past two years have strengthened our on-shore resolve and made us even more proud to be a North American manufacturer.
Max respected and was connected to his employees. He appreciated what they brought to the company, never taking them for granted. Today, there is nothing that we value more than our staff. We are particularly proud of the ways in which we have protected and accommodated employees as we faced the challenges of Covid. With numerous people who have been with the company for decades, we have a deep sense of responsibility for every employee.
In 1969, small business strategy was simple. Produce goods of outstanding quality and deliver them on time, every time. Guess what. That hasn’t changed. We know that in 2022, what distinguishes Algood is our ability to produce casters of superior quality and get them to our customers exactly when we said we would. As an ISO 9001 company, we make an ongoing commitment to every aspect of quality.
So, what has changed in 53 years? For starters, we are totally committed to high-quality industrial engineering design. Through investments in CAD and 3D printing as well as the expertise to leverage the technology, our casters are well-engineered and beautifully designed. That same industrial design capability has also allowed for the in-house production of four robotic welding cells as well as numerous automation enhancements to our equipment.
We have become more innovative and our product line has increased exponentially. Many of those products have become industry leaders, like our RollX™ wheels with their sister Lava™ high temperature wheels and our iLock™ multi-positional braking system.
While some of the equipment our Dad bought over 40 years ago is still running well, we have more machinery – and more sophisticated machinery – than ever before. The production floor includes stamping and injection moulding equipment, three CNC machines, automated assembly stations and more. We also have a fully integrated manufacturing facility that includes a complete tool and die centre as well as our engineering and design complement.
Perhaps more than anything else, Algood’s success has been founded on a deep sense of family values. We are not a corporate conglomerate. We make decisions based on principles, integrity and honesty. The Algood stamp on every product signifies the personal responsibility that we take for its quality. Together, with our employees, we see ourselves as a family. And of course, starting in 1992, the second generation of our family took the reins in leading our company – with me as the President and Sean as the Vice President of Manufacturing.
Now, as my son Elie has made a personal commitment to be part of the future of Algood, he becomes the third generation that will take responsibility for the company. Undoubtedly, he will make his own unique mark, as I have made mine. What is equally certain is that he will be guided by his grandfather’s enduring values and principles.