We’re excited to be moving into our new facility in two weeks – and we have the recession to thank.
You see, when the economy tanked five or six years ago, we did some serious thinking at Algood. The knee-jerk response of many companies was to cut costs and lay off staff. We weren’t prepared to play that game because our employees are our greatest asset. Instead, we chose instead to re-evaluate and consider what was going to make us a better manufacturer. Many of the efficiencies that resulted from that process are at the heart of our double-digit growth today. One of our conclusions was that our current facility couldn’t support the flow between our various integrated functions like injection molding and metal stamping.
It was over 40 years ago that my father originally acquired the building that we will leave on July 7. In truth, it was only one unit in the building. Over time, as the company grew, we expanded and broke down walls until we occupied all seventeen units of what was supposed to have been unrelated industrial condos. The result is a hodge-podge of contiguous but non-aligned spaces.
Once we’d made the decision to move, finding the right place was the cause of many sleepless nights. It had to be just the right configuration with appropriate access and great potential. Location was a huge factor. We mapped the home addresses of our employees and were determined to find a location that did not increase the commute time for most. In the end, not a single employee is leaving because of the new location.
Interestingly, the search process was also a learning process. I had the opportunity to speak to many manufacturers who were finding innovative ways to use space effectively. Companies were downsizing to smaller spaces not because sales were down but rather because they were looking for the optimal manufacturing flow and configuration. That helped us realize that a building with less floor space but higher ceilings could be more efficient. Our new facility has less square feet but with 30 foot ceilings, we have increased our total space by over 10,000 cubic feet.
Now that the decision has been made and the new facility is taking shape, we can see the vision becoming reality and that’s cool. From the outset we established a moving committee with key players from manufacturing, plant operations, engineering, logistics and sales. We laboured over every aspect of the move – each with its multiple choices and outcomes.
And it paid off. We have reduced the maximum walking distance between departments from 550 feet to 225 feet. We have a layout that allows for the perfect manufacturing flow. Production will be even better integrated and in some cases we will shave days off lead times. Incredibly, our new home has the capacity to double our output.
Even so, a move of this magnitude is a massive leap of faith. We are investing over $1 million in the new facility. There are over 2000 new rack spaces, over 70 T5 lighting fixtures that were installed, leasehold improvements and the cost of the move itself.
Our move is an expression of our commitment to North American caster manufacturing and our belief in an even brighter future for Algood Caster Innovations.