In the past month I’ve been to Dallas, Houston Columbus and Cleveland – and that was only an average month. You see, I spend a lot of time on the road meeting with our distributors and manufacturing customers. Inevitably I get asked the same three questions, or some variation on them, every time I’m with a customer. Here they are:
- On your website and catalogue you call yourselves Castersmiths. What the heck is a Castersmith?
- An in-depth industry question. The last one was, “Do you think there’s a future for roller bearings?”
- What does your company do best?
My answers to those questions reveal a great deal about the way Algood and I do business.
So, what’s a Castersmith?
A Castersmith is a true craftsman, someone who knows every millimeter of a caster like the back of his hand and every tiny detail that goes into making a caster from beginning to end; someone who understands the artistry of caster-building, who implicitly recognizes the balances, the gives and takes in making casters; a master of his trade who is well schooled in every ounce of material and every minute of work that goes into creating a quality product; a true professional who can make casters that add value while solving problems; a veteran who takes pride in every product that carries his name. At Algood we are a company of Castersmiths.
And, is there a future for the roller bearing?
The short answer is probably not. Traditionally, the value in a roller bearing was that its components could be made or purchased cheaply and with a little bit of labour, you had a simple solution that allowed a wheel to roll easily and dependably. However, labour costs have risen and the installation of a roller bearing is difficult to automate. At the same time, the material cost of ball bearings, the most logical alternative to the roller bearing, has decreased. In addition, ball bearings can be installed more quickly and the ball bearing allows for bi-directional movement. While ball bearings still cost more than roller bearings, the gap is narrowing and the value scale is tipping in favour of the ball bearing.
What always strikes me when I get asked questions like that is that people expect the president of a mid size caster manufacturer to be able to answer them. And I can. In fact, a big part of the value that Algood offers is that its owners are deeply involved in every aspect of the business. In fact, our customers frequently consult me personally on issues related to caster construction and design.
Finally, what do we do best?
In part, it’s a combination of the previous two answers. We leverage the expertise of Castersmithing and combine it with deep knowledge of the caster business to create products that meet the requirements of our customers. That knowledge extends to our sales reps, who have a remarkable understanding of the caster business and are seasoned problem solvers.
With a fully integrated manufacturing facility, we can marshal the resources to develop unique solutions and meet uncommon deadlines. We frequently create and manufacture 60,000 of a one-off caster design. It’s not unusual for us to go from concept to carton in 45-60 days. That agility allows our customers to maximize both efficiency and opportunity. That capability also enhances our expertise and our ability to advise customers on the best way to confront challenging circumstances.
Our owner-managed, non commodity based approach is what truly differentiates us in the marketplace.
There you have it. Three answers that say an awful lot about Algood and the way we do business.