Craig Guttmann,

President, Algood Caster Innovations

14
Jul
2014

We made the front page

2014 04 07 National Post InternetThe Financial Post is one of Canada’s premiere business publications and is read throughout North America. So, it was quite an honour to be featured on the front page. The article followed an in depth interview and tour by writer Rick Spence who was extremely impressed with Algood. He compared Algood to some corporate giants when he said, “It’s the type of design innovation that made firms such as Braun and Apple famous.” Spence also noted Algood’s exemplary reaction to the economic downturn, writing, “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’re very proud to have received the attention and thought that our business associates might enjoy knowing what the gurus of business are saying about Algood. You can read the full article online.

If you get a chance, let me know what you think. It would be great to hear from you. Just leave me a comment.

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23
Jun
2014

We thank the recession for our new facility

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 labored 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.

9 comments on “We thank the recession for our new facility
  1. Joe Mayer says:

    Congratulations to Craig & his entire staff. Bless the people who were with you in the beginning, but are unable to witness the new location. From one small unit to where you will be. Many lives have been changed with the vision Max had. I am proud to say, I knew Max, and he changed my life. Good Luck to everyone as you move forward.

  2. Craig Hagel says:

    Craig,

    Congratulations on your new facility. I know you have put a lot of sweat and tears into growing Algood, and it is great to see that your vision is coming to fruition.

    If you are ever looking for a quality ball manufacturer in the USA, I think I know where you can find one.

    Best Regards,

    Craig Hagel
    Frantz Manufacturing Company / Sterling Steel Ball Div.
    Sterling, IL
    815-622-2410
    chagel@frantz-mfg.com
    http://www.frantz-mfg.com

  3. Congratulations Craig. Continued success to you and your staff. Thank you for your contributions to our much loved industry!

  4. Jeff Tessier says:

    Hi Craig,

    I look forward to seeing your new operation this summer.

    Congratulations on not only the vision for a better future, but the chutzpah to make it a reality.

    Good luck.

    Regards,

    Jeff Tessier
    Global Upholstery

  5. Rick McLellan says:

    Hi Craig,
    I was impressed with your new facility the day you gave me a tour. I’m sure it will help Algood surpass your goals.
    Cheers
    Rick

  6. John Owen says:

    please consider posting a video tour of your new facility on the website or on Youtube so that people from all over the continent can see and share your accomplishment.

    • Craig Guttmann says:

      John,

      Thanks for your feedback. Adding videos to our site in general is on the drawing board. A video of the new facility will be on that agenda. I appreciate your comments. Craig

  7. Steve Carney says:

    Congratulations Craig to you and your amazing employees. Great to see the success you are enjoying and also great to see the growth of a manufacturer in Canada. I look forward to a visit in the near future. Max would be proud!!!

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02
Jun
2014

What’s a Castersmith, you ask?

You may have noticed that Algood’s new tagline is The Next Generation of Castersmiths and I would bet your first question is, “What the hell is a castersmith?” I can tell you a lot about Algood by answering that question and explaining the new tagline.

Castersmith is a term that we coined based on all of the qualities that are understood when talking about other smiths – like silversmiths, blacksmiths and locksmiths. What follows is what I believe makes us true castersmiths.

  • Craftsmanship. We have mastered the trade of building casters. We manufacture our own casters and wheels we know every part, every ounce of material and every minute of work that goes into creating a quality product. We know every tiny detail that goes into making a caster from beginning to end. Our integrated production facility includes tool & die making, metal stamping, injection molding and assembly – all under one roof.
  • Attention to detail. There is no part of the design and production process that is too small to deserve our attention. Our fully resourced R&D and engineering departments make sure that every aspect of a caster’s performance is considered from the outset. We create our own prototypes, test them extensively and modify them until we’ve got it right.
  • Pride. Every caster or wheel that leaves our 80,000 square foot manufacturing facility has our name stamped on it.  It’s a stamp that says we stand behind our products and guarantee their quality. Through our commitment to ISO testing and compliance, we have achieved a near perfect 99% quality completion rate. As our shipping inserts say, every Algood order is packed with pride.

Here’s what “The Next Generation” part of the tagline is all about. Obviously, we’re the next generation because this is a family owned business and my brother Sean and I have taken over where my father, who founded the company, left off. My father is my hero and I try every day to emulate his dedication to our customers, his creativity in developing products that meet our customers’ needs and his commitment to hard work and honesty.

The Next Generation also means that this is a business that has embraced technology and innovation. We develop our own equipment. We integrate casters with advanced hydraulics and electronics. We are creative and have dozens of patented or patentable products. We have more standard caster configurations than any other manufacturer. Don’t just take our word for it. Algood was recently recognized by a huge Fortune 500 company as its most innovative supplier in 2013.

Far from being a meaningless marketing line, The Next Generation of Castersmiths provides a sense of purpose for all of us at Algood. It is our mission and we aim to live up to it every single day.

7 comments on “What’s a Castersmith, you ask?
  1. Jim Heaton says:

    I like your new marketing campaign, it induced me to click through on it and read about “castersmiths”

  2. Jim Heaton says:

    I like your new marketing campaign, it induced me to click through, and get your key messages…

    • Craig Guttmann says:

      Jim,

      Thank you for your comments! It is truly appreciated. Please let me know if there is a topic you would like me to blog about.

      Craig

  3. Steve Myers says:

    Awesome…good job…we use Algood here at Western States…great product at a reasonable price.

    Sincerely,

    Steve
    Product Development Engineer

  4. Ron Conrad says:

    Hello Craig, Your presentation epitomizes the fact which most people don’t comprehend, that the “caster world” is a much more complex market that even our customers expect. It often takes many questions to arrive at the point of suggesting and recommending caster products to a customer for their use, and some people cannot understand why those questions are necessary and / or important. “Its just a wheel!” It is great that you are attempting to spread that message, and enlighten people to the characteristics and attributes that we deal with daily. Ron Conrad, LG Rathbun Company, Denver, CO

    • Craig Guttmann says:

      Ron,

      I truly appreciate your comments! An upcoming topic I plan to blog about is… “Do you want your caster to look like a Caster or function like a Caster?” The other great follow up question I like to use when discussing weight capacity is… “would you put your head underneath that caster load?” Capacity and quality are never an issue until the caster fails and then it’s the manufacturer’s fault. Stay tuned for more informative blasts.

      Craig

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30
Apr
2014

Casters make my world go round

I called this blog “My world is Round” because it’s true. Yeah, I know that Christopher Columbus or Magellan or a Greek philosopher figured out the world is round centuries ago, but the point is that my world is round. I spend most of my life living and breathing casters. And its been that way for 25 years. That’s what happens when you’re the president of one of North America’s largest caster manufacturers that just happens to be a family business. When I was a kid our family life was centered around this caster business. I can still remember going to the plant with my mother to bring my dad dinner on nights that he had to stay late.

My world is also round because I spend so much time traveling the globe – throughout North America, to Europe as well as the Near East and the Orient – seeing customers, suppliers and strategic partners. In posts to come, I’ll talk about how I deal with that part of my world.

But, to start, I wanted to tell you what’s truly important in this round world of mine. Of course, it’s casters. But what I learned from my father – and on my own for the past 15 years – is that there are principles and values that go way beyond what we actually make. There are actually some very old fashioned – you might even say square – ideas that I learned from my dad and that make my world go around. Here they are:

Take pride in what you build and sell. Always strive to do better and don’t ever be satisfied unless you’ve done the very best you can. There is no product or delivery error that is ever tolerable. We may have a 75,000 square foot facility that turns out hundreds of thousands of pieces a year but every caster with Algood stamped on it, comes with our personal guarantee.

Your word and your reputation are worth everything. When you say you are going to do something for a customer, it happens – even if you lose money doing it. When you shake hands on a deal, there’s no turning back. Dishonesty is the slippery slope to failure. Whether you’re one of our customers, partners or suppliers, you’ll always get the straight bill of goods.

Treat your employees with respect and care. Value their contributions. Never take them for granted. Give them the opportunity to reach higher and do more and then reward them when they do it. At Algood, we are proud that we employ almost 100 people in our manufacturing facility. Our employees are our greatest asset – and they know it.

Never compromise your values. Never settle. Never put profit ahead of principle. When you deal with Algood, you’re not dealing with a corporate sub-division. You’re dealing with the people who make all the decisions and are have to live with the consequences. So, there you have it.

This is my round world and I welcome you to it. In the coming weeks and months I look forward to sharing more of it with you. In the meantime, if there’s something about my world that reminds you of yours, or anything else that you’d like to comment on, I’d love hear from you.

4 comments on “Casters make my world go round
  1. Joe Mayer says:

    Craig: You have done an excellent job, building your Dad’s career, into a global distributor. As being one of you very first distributors, I have always enjoyed selling your line of casters. As you, I too lived “casters”. It is now, and always will be in my blood. Please continue growing your product line.

  2. Craig Hagel says:

    Craig,

    I am glad to see that your business is doing well. It is obviously a result of exactly what you stated in your blog. Those are great ideals for any company and its employees.

    Years ago our company (Frantz Mfg. / Sterling Steel Ball were a part of the Institute of Caster Manufacturers (ICM). It was there that I had the opportunity to meet you and understand your values as you have noted. You had recently lost your Dad and were facing a very challenging time in your life where you had to become the champion for Algood Casters, which you certainly have done.

    Congratulations.

    Hopefully there will be a time that we will meet again, it’s a small world.

    Regards,

    Craig Hagel (VP Sales)
    Frantz Manufacturing Co.
    815-622-4558

  3. Bryan Alire says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words of wisdom. I especially enjoyed and appreciated you’re principles and values portion of the article. Great job! Looking forward to your next post.

  4. Craig, I know how your Dad ran his business and I know what type of man he was.
    What you say is true and you have taken over where he left off. Great advice which cuts a broad path beyond casters. Amazed at and proud of what Algood has become and the new direction it is headed under your stewardship.

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