The Next Generation of CasterSmiths

Celebrating Family Values & Our Next Generation

For years, we have been describing ourselves as the “Next Generation of Castersmiths.” While that refers to how we combine expert craftsmanship with the most advanced technology, it’s taken on a new and much more exciting meaning recently.

With Family Day this coming Monday and Algood’s 55th anniversary the day before, we thought it was the perfect time to introduce Elie Guttmann to the Algood community. Following in the footsteps of his father Craig Guttmann, Algood’s President and his grandfather Max Guttmann, Algood’s Founder, Elie is now literally the next generation of castersmiths.

Elie’s journey from a successful career in non-profit marketing to the world of caster and wheel production was fueled by a desire for new challenges and a shift from a digital to a tactile work environment. “Selling products that are physically built is a gratifying experience,” says Elie, emphasizing his newfound appreciation for the manufacturing sector’s role in the economy.

Currently supporting the U.S. sales effort, Elie is immersing himself in the intricacies of Algood’s product line, aiming to understand every caster, wheel, component, and configuration. His grandfather’s determination and success are an ongoing source of pride and inspiration. He has dedicated himself to following in his grandfather’s footsteps with aspirations of eventually contributing to Algood’s leadership team.

Elie’s focus on marketing-centered projects has been evident, particularly in the redesign of Algood’s website. With a keen eye for detail, he invested countless hours conceptualizing, developing, and implementing the new design, now channelling his efforts into optimizing the website’s performance as a marketing tool.

Craig sees this generational collaboration as invigorating. He appreciates Elie’s fresh ideas and unique perspectives, especially noting his contributions to the catalogue and website. “We are a unique manufacturer and needed just the right website to tell our story, and Elie nailed it,” says Craig, emphasizing the importance of innovative marketing in showcasing Algood’s uniqueness.

Craig acknowledges that certain aspects of the business can only be learned through experience. “There are things you can’t possibly learn at school—assessing ROI, how and when to take risks and how to practically understand engineering all have to be learned by making mistakes,” he asserts.

A large part of what sets Algood apart is the values that come from being a family-owned enterprise. “We still hold close to my father’s values in how we operate this company,” Craig relates. “That makes having a third generation working in the company even more meaningful.”

This represents a promising new chapter for Algood. Elie is helping to fuel our growth through fresh perspectives and well-honed skills. Craig and his brother Sean, VP of Manufacturing, see the renewed energy that Elie’s innovative ideas, optimism, and excitement are infusing into the company. And, they are confident that Elie will uphold the cherished family values that have propelled Algood’s triumphs for over five decades. In the months and years ahead, we are certain you will hear much more about Elie’s contributions to Algood’s success as our dynamic “next generation of castersmiths.”

Algood-Invests-$1M-in-New-Facility

Algood Invests $1M in New Facility

With the move, Algood is keeping its operations in Canada, even though many struggling North American manufacturers are seeking offshore solutions.

Algood installed more than 2,000 rack spaces; 70 T5 light fixtures; and laid hundreds of metres of wiring in its new 5574-square-metre facility.

MPTON, Ont. — Algood Caster Innovations, a caster manufacturer in Bramton, Ont., bought itself a $1-million gift for its 45th anniversary.

On July 7, Algood moved into a new 5,574-square-metre facility to better integrate its in-house manufacturing operations, which include injection molding and metal stamping.

The move is expected to double its manufacturing output and keeps its engineering and die-making departments in close proximity to production.

In preparation for the move, Algood installed more than 2,000 rack spaces; 70 T5 light fixtures; and laid hundreds of metres of wiring.

“This is an indication of our incredible commitment to North American caster manufacturing and meeting the needs of our customers. We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” says Algood President Craig Guttmann.

Earlier this year, the company changed its name from Algood Casters Ltd. to Algood Caster Innovations. The company supplies casters through a distributor network to a wide variety of industries including store fixtures, furniture, bakery, food distribution, waste management and medical equipment.

The company was founded in 1969 by Craig’s father Max.

Algood weathered the economic downturn by finding efficiencies in its manufacturing operations, and Guttman says the company is now experiencing double-digit growth.

The recession led the company to automate of a number assembly processes. It engineered several new products and developed a new production workflow that is being implemented in the new plant.

Algood, which employs about 70 people, exports to markets in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Gutmman says the company decided to maintain its operations in Canada, even though many struggling North American manufacturers are seeking offshore solutions.

“In 2008, we decided to put our efforts into this operation and to re-imagine what we do here,” says Guttmann.


Published by CanadianManufacturing.com on July 14, 2014

Algood Casters in the Financial Post

Reinventing the Wheel

By Rick Spence

Growth Curve: Algood Casters president Craig Guttmann is proving that old-fashioned metal-bashing can still be a growth industry in Canada

You probably don’t give much thought to casters: the swivelling wheels that make your office chair roll and heavy equipment easy to move. At best you’d probably consider this a commodity item, a product left behind innovation, the sort of thing we don’t make in Canada anymore. But you’d be wrong.

Tucked away in a gritty industrial street in northwest Toronto, Algood Casters is a surprisingly nimble manufacturer of an ever-growning line of casters for home, retail, and industrial use.

Maybe you won’t be surprised it has a product catalogue 188 pages thick. Maybe you’ll yawn at the fact its 80,000-sq-ft factory does its own product design, metal stamping and injection moulding. Maybe exporting to 18 countries and supplying the global data centres of some of the world’s largest tech firms doesn’t impress you. But President Craig Guttmann is proving old-fashioned metalbashing can still be a growth industry in Canada – if managment can meet customers’ increasing demands for innovation and quality while keeping costs in check.

Guttmann decided to tell his story after hearing the lamentations over Heinz’ closure of a tomato-processing plant in Leamington, Ontario (Another company agreed to take over the plant, but more than 500 jobs will be lost.) “The only time a business makes the news is when you put people out of work,” he fumes. “Nobody cares I’ve been around 45 years and have 70 empolyees. They just hear about you when you close.”

Here’s why you should care: It makes casters cool Algood, Canada’s largest caster producer, was the first company to put hubcaps on casters. They serve very little purpose. But mobile platforms, toolcarts, and trash bins have never looked more wicked. It’s the type of design innovation that made firms such as Braun and Apple famous.

It produces heavy industrial casters with disc brakes Also hand brakes and disc brakes, and even casters with scales that let operators weigh their cargoes to avoid overload. “We patented that one,” says Guttmann. “I could patent something new here almost every day.”

It proves innovators can still compete on price Recently, a $3-billion global client that supplies server racks to top technology companies, including Facebook, gave Algood an award for cost management — a year after naming the company its most innovative supplier. “This is a European company that recognizes a small Canadian manufacturer out of hundreds of suppliers around the world,” Guttmann says.

Algood was founded in 1968 by Craig’s father Max — a Hungarian tool and die maker who came to Canada in 1951 and worked for Massey Ferguson — and Keith Alexander. The company name is a combination of their surnames. Founded as a general tool-maker, Max steered the company into the furniture business.

When Craig joined as the firm’s first salesman in 1987, he recognized it was too dependent on a sunset industry. He pushed the company into more than 30 new markets, including mobile toolboxes, servers and store fixtures.

Appointed president in 1993, Guttman says he never saw a down year until 2008. In response to the financial crisis, he called on his team to rethink everything. “We had been so busy making money we never stopped to look at what we were doing and what we could do better,” he says. “We had to learn to innovate again: not just to make product cheaper, but make it better, and get it to the customer quicker.”

After weighing the pros and cons of opening a factory in China, he says, “I decided to put my efforts into this plant, to re-imagine what we do here. It took a lot of blood and sweat.” (Today the company’s exports to China exceed $1-million.)

By bringing sales, engineering, production and customer service together to eliminate roadblocks, install best practices and develop new materials and processes, Algood became a custom-product powerhouse. “We had long production runs, but not anymore. You need flexibility,” Guttmann says. “We can now take bigger orders from customers, and smaller orders. That’s how you compete globally now.”

The evolution is still not finished; Algood is implementing a new CRM system, and next month it moves into a new plant in Brampton, Ont. With improved “from scratch” production flow, Guttmann is looking to reduce turnaround time for standard products from five days to three. And he wants to reduce turnaround for custom products, currently three to four weeks, by at least a week.

He says one of his best innovations was to schedule regular weekly customer-service meetings (Monday morning) and engineering meetings (Wednesday afternoon). Sounds easy, but for years those meetings were held only sporadically. Getting all departments together makes for an expensive meeting, he says, but helps create a shared, client-first culture. “The goal is 100% quality.”

When you can boast a customer-complaint rate that’s a fraction of 1%, he says, you’re no longer a commodity producer. Clients forget about your price and recognize the lifetime value you create.

Algood is back into double-digit annual growth. Guttman says his success demonstrates that innovation and quality aren’t expensive: they’re cheap. “It takes years to get a customer, and just a second to lose one,” he says. “There is nothing more expensive than an unsatisfied customer.”


Published in the Financial Post on April 07, 2014

Casters Make My World Go Round

Canadian Manufacturing Success Story Celebrates 45 Years

By Sean Delaney

Algood Casters Limited, a Canadian manufacturing success story, is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Algood designs, manufactures, imports, and distributes casters, wheels, and related products. The family-owned company has grown from a small tool & die operation to a global competitor in the caster industry, servicing customers throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia. Algood has been in its current 80,000 square foot facility on Fenmar Drive for over 40 years and now employs more than 70 people. It celebrates its 45th anniversary this month.

The company’s history actually dates back to 1960, when founder Max Guttmann formed A & G Dies Limited and began manufacturing dies for all industries, including caster dies. By 1963, capacity had increased, and the company was manufacturing a wide variety of stampings, including a line of casters.

In 1969, the company decided to channel all of its efforts to the caster industry and on February 18 of that year, Algood Casters Limited was born. Algood has enjoyed outstanding success in the past 45 years and is now Canada’s largest caster manufacturer. Management of the company has been passed to sons Craig and Sean Guttmann who are poised to take the company to even greater heights.

“We are guided by the past as look to the future,” says Craig Guttmann, Algood’s President. “Our late father’s tenacity, ingenuity and unbelievable work ethic provide an inspiring example for us. At the same time, we are adopting the most up to date technology and equipment so that we will continue to be competitive in North America and around the world,” said Guttmann.

The company has successfully bucked the outsourcing trend by incorporating and continuously investing in a number of vertical development and production centers including engineering, tool & die making, injection molding and metal stamping. Those “in-sourced” capabilities have enhanced its ability to acquire and service customers and led to numerous notable achievements, including:

  • Recently Surpassing $1M in Sales of Manufacturing Product to China
  • Being Recognized by a huge 3-billion-dollar European Fortune 500 Company as its 2012 Best Supplier for Cost Management

Algood is celebrating its 45th anniversary on Monday February 24, 2014, at its facility at 605 Fenmar Drive in Toronto with an open house for customers, suppliers, and business associates. The day will culminate in a number of presentations. MPP Maris Sergio will be present as will a representative of MP Judy Sgro.

Ultimately, Algood is the unique story of a mid-sized family-owned company in the thick of Canada’s manufacturing sector that is able to thrive and innovate and find its place in a global marketplace.


Published in Emery Village Voice in February 2014

Toronto-Star-1994

Father Got Company Rolling with Casters 

Toronto Star: March 21, 1994 

His Two Sons Have Now Taken Over the Algood Which Has Sales of $5 Million 

By John Picton– Special to the Star

Max Guttmann was working so hard his sons would take him dinner once a week so they could see him. Eating and sleeping in his small plant, he put in seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. to build his fledgling company. 

That was in 1961, when the Czech-born tool-and-die maker set up shop in North York. His company, Algood Casters Ltd., now has sales of $5 million a year and employs 50 people.

“I learned the trade in displaced-persons camps in Germany,” says 61-year-old Guttmann, who’s just stepping down as head of the company in favor of his 30-year-old son, Craig. 

Says Craig: “When I started, with the company, I asked my dad where I was to sit. He gave me a mop and a bucket and said to clean the floors because I was to start at the bottom.” 

Says Max: “But I could never teach him tool-and-die making.” 

Adds Craig: “We’re even, because I couldn’t teach him sales.” 

Max Guttmann came to Canada in 1951 and was working for Massey-Ferguson when he bumped into a friend who needed some dies for a car-brake contract.

Thinking Big

They put in $1,750 each and started their own company, in which the friend was a silent partner. But when Guttmann tried to borrow $6,000 from a bank to build a die, he was told the brake job was too big for him and was turned down. 

“So I made a sample and asked the brake company to lend me the money, and they did. I saved them $300 per 1,000 pieces and they used as many as 150,000 pieces a year.” That meant the saving was $45,000 annually. 

Working 18-hour days, Guttmann built his company — then called A. and G. Dies — to such an extent that the brake company told him: “Either you sell out to us or we’ll tool up against you.” 

When he arrived home from the lawyer’s office after signing the sale agreement, which included a non-competition clause that said he could no longer make brakes, there was a $30,000 contract waiting for him from another brake company. 

“In 1969, that was a lot of money,” says Guttmann. “If I’d known, I wouldn’t have sold. I cried.” 

He set up another firm, Algood — still with his silent partner — and started making tubular TV stands. Then he noted there were only two companies producing casters, both of them multinationals who mostly assembled’ them in Canada. 

But when Guttmann tried to buy wheels for them, he was given prices for which he could have produced the finished product. 

“That’s when I bought an injection-molding machine to make polyurethane wheels — and I’ve never looked back since.”

Algood became a major supplier of casters to the office-furniture industry, while landing a contract to supply parts for McCulloch chain saws, a contract Guttmann retains although the customer moved to Los Angeles more than 20 years ago. 

Business kept growing by word-of-mouth, with every cent being invested in new machinery. 

When he wanted to buy a $7,000 punch press, his alarmed partner told him: “If the firm goes bankrupt, I only lose my original investment — but you’ll lose everything. 

“But if you still want to buy it, go ahead.” The company did. 

Then, when Algood needed an $8,000 milling machine, Guttmann asked a machine dealer to buy it for him, promising to pay it off in six months. 

The dealer did — and was paid back in four months. 

Guttmann was overseeing every facet of the company’s operations, even making deliveries himself in emergencies. (“It’s said his Lincoln is the most expensive pickup truck you’ve ever seen,” says Craig Guttmann.) 

Well-Rounded Choice

Max Guttmann has sold his caster-manufacturing business to sons Craig, 30, centre, and Mark, 33. Max Guttmann’s three sons bought Algood at the end of 1993 and their father now is enjoying his first-ever vacations — “spending the children’s inheritance,” as he puts it, with a laugh. 

And he chuckles proudly when he tells the story of a Mexican buyer who recently showed him a caster and said: “That’s what I want.”  

Says Guttmann: “It was one of ours. She got it from one of our U.S. distributors.” 


Algood Casters Ltd.
Business: Designs and makes casters for home and office furniture.
Start Up Capital: $3,600 in savings. 
Employees: 50. 
Sales: $5 million in 1993. 
Goal: To become the biggest in their field in North America.


Algood_Toronto_Star-1994-03-17

Casters Company Founder Embodies Canadian Dream

TORONTO – Max Guttmann, who embodies the Canadian corporate dream, will face a major adjustment in giving up something he started from scratch.

A destitute Holocaust survivor, he came to Canada, worked 100 hours a week to build Algood Casters, now a lucrative company, and then turned it over to his kids this year on the firm’s 25th anniversary. For Gutt­mann, it’s been a life of hope and hardship, of sacrifice and success.

One of the Guttmann sons, 30-year-old Craig, new president at Algood Casters, remembers wishing to see more of his dad.

“Very often he would never come home for days, because he would be sleeping in the factory. “

Guttmann himself admits to putting in punishing hours, with days running into nights on the factory floor. “I used to work from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.,” he recalls.

Guttmann was born 62 years ago in Czechoslovakia and moved to Hungary at the age of 3. In 1943, Hungary’s Nazi occupiers kicked him out of school. He was 11 at the time, with four years of formal education, which to this day is the extent of his schooling. When the war was over, Guttmann was one of the fortunate survivors, who had somehow been spared because his parents had placed him in an orphanage.

“I was 12 1/2 years old. They asked for children who wanted to help, so I volunteered,” he says.

Volunteering meant learning a trade -die making and machine building, courtesy of ORT (Organi­zation for Rehabilitation & Training).

Six years later, with the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, he was on his way to Toronto, where finding work, by today’s standards, was unbelievably easy. He accepted his first job offer the day he arrived.

Toronto in the early 50s was an in­tolerant town. Employers, private clubs, and landlords thought nothing of barring Jews. Discrimination was standard procedure.

When Guttmann became the first Jew to be hired at Massey Harris, later to become Massey Ferguson, one of North America’s major farm machinery manufacturers, he made labor history. But being accepted by his fellow workers wasn’t so simple. Guttmann had taken off for Yom Kippur and returned to the taunting of a factory colleague who expressed regret about not having killed more Jews in Europe. His reaction was furiously instinctive.

“I picked up a hammer and start­ed swinging until somebody stopped me.”

Although Guttmann kept his job and the anti-Semite was transferred, other unpleasant incidents followed. One of the factory foremen threatened to fire him unless he could complete a spe­cially designed task in a seemingly impossible amount of time.

“You little Jew boy,” Guttmann remembers the foreman saying, “you won’t finish the job. You’ll get your ass kicked out of here.” The result? “I finished the job in half the time.”

Diverse Product Range

Craig Guttmann believes the persistent anti-Semitism his father faced prevented him from “sitting back while others were suffering and dy­ing.” His father joined several groups sponsoring Vietnamese boat people so they could come to Canada. He personally brought over one worker who is still employed at Algood.

Guttmann is, in fact, a soft touch for charitable causes. The list of recipients is long – Shearim Hebrew Day School, which teaches children with learning difficulties; Netivot HaTorah Day School; Or Chaim Yeshiva; the Mizrachi Zionist organi­zation; Beit Halochem for wounded Israeli soldiers; ORT and many more. By 1961, with a succession of em­ployers behind him and $3,400 to start a new company, Guttmann and partner Keith Alexander created A & G Dies, Algood’s predecessor. When Although consumers tend to take casters on their furniture and shop­ping carts for granted, Guttmann never believed business would auto­matically come his way. He would load his car with casters at any time of the day for personal deliveries to clients, and he loved victory over im­ported casters based on price -the one significant selling point of his product.

When Algood was a less than prosperous corporate infant, there were two customers and $32,000 in annual sales. Today, Algood, 50 em­ployees and 65,000 square feet later, serves over 700 customers, with coast-to-coast distributorships and sales in the millions. And whether it’s 1969 or 1994, when it comes to customers, some things never change. “We spoil them rotten,” Guttmann observes.

It’s this personal pride, this “hands-on careful control,” as Gutt­man describes it, that has allowed Algood Casters to not just survive, but flourish during the recession. Even before economic conditions deteriorated, Al­good stopped concentrating primari­ly on the furniture market and diversified its product range.

“That way, when one market ex­celled, we felt it. When one market was depressed, we dido ‘t,” Craig ob­serves.

In December 1990, Algood asked employees to forego raises and bonuses. They complied, saved their jobs, and helped to pilot Algood through the economic storm.

Now, Algood is after the benefits of free trade. Already, 25 per cent of its business comes from the United States, which Craig considers un­tapped territory, and the company just picked up a Mexican customer.

With a solid sales base, a gigantic product line (some 25,000 caster var­iations) and 20 per cent growth ex­pected this year, Algood is moving on to the next generation -sons Mark, Craig and Sean, with Craig running Algood Casters.

Why semi-retirement today, for Guttman and his wife Sheila when the founder and first president is only 62? The answer from Guttmann himself is typically practical and blunt.

“I want the company taken over when I’m still alive and still active to see the pleasure of them running it.”


Published by the CJN on March 17, 1994

1 (800) 254-6633
service@algood.com

Algood Casters has manufactured, designed and developed industrial and specialty casters, brakes and wheels since 1969, in capacities from 25 to 65,000 lbs.

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