Guspro started as a manufacturer and distributor of honing machines and abrasives in 1932, and the company remains competitive today by continuously creating and providing innovative industry solutions. Guspro offers three product lines but the company’s most renowned trademark – Blademaster – gives this Canadian company some serious bragging rights, as Blademaster is the No.1 supplier of skate sharpening and contouring machines to the NHL. Blademaster machines are endorsed by the Society of Professional Equipment Managers (SPHEM), and are used by eight of the top Olympic teams [Canada, USA, Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Slovakia].
Located in Chatham, Ont., this family business has remained successful over the past 80 years due to a strong vision, industry knowledge, and the ability to change direction in order to keep the business moving forward.
The company celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2012, and today, the Guspro umbrella operates three successful divisions: Blademaster, Sunnen Products Distribution, and Guspro Heat Cleaning Ovens. The Canadian Business Journal sat down with Brian Sunnen, Vice-President, and Al Moon, General Sales Manager, as they revealed some of the secrets behind running three distinctive businesses of international prominence.
Guspro began in 1932 as a manufacturer and distributor in the Canadian market for the U.S.-based Sunnen Products Company. Sunnen is a global leader in the manufacturing of bore sizing and finishing equipment, engine rebuilding equipment, tooling, and abrasives. As the markets changed, in the 1980’s Guspro formed a relationship with the Bayco Oven Company to manufacture industrial heat cleaning ovens. These versatile ovens are now branded as “Guspro”, but to this day they are still recognized by many in the industry under the old “Bayco” trademark. However, as a fluid and flexible business, Guspro continued to look for additional manufacturing opportunities and acquiring the Blademaster line in 1987. That business has since grown to be the market leader, and is known in the industry as the choice of professionals.
While Guspro has enjoyed significant growth in its manufacturing divisions (Guspro Heat Cleaning Ovens and Blademaster), the distribution of Sunnen products continues to be a key part of the Guspro business. “Honing is not just a niche market. Precision bore finishing opportunities can be found in various markets including the oil industry, engine rebuilding, hydraulic cylinder, aircraft industry and maintenance shops to name a few; any application where the dimensions, geometry, finish, precision and performance are critical make for a great fit for Sunnen Products and Guspro,” says Moon.
Although Guspro integrated Bayco and Blademaster back in the 1980’s, both lines have grown to be well known leaders in their markets because Guspro continued to innovate and adapt these lines in order to keep ahead of the competition.
The involvement with professional hockey makes Blademaster well-known to every Canadian, but Blademaster is also the global market leader in skate care equipment and supplies. Blademaster products provide the total package of skate blade sharpening and tuning, and are used in over 50 countries worldwide (as far as Dubai); and the Blademaster’s Custom Radius Contouring System allows a player to customize the profile and balance point of the skate blade to optimize on-ice performance.
“We got started with Blademaster in 1987 through the acquisition of a company called TSM, and since then we’ve grown the business significantly,” says Sunnen; however, even the word ‘significantly’ seems as an understatement, as there are some serious bragging rights accompanying the Blademaster’s success in the professional skating world. Nearly all NHL teams have a Blademaster ready to go in their locker room, and most teams travel with at least one portable version of the machine when on the road.
Blademaster is an official supplier to Team Canada and Team USA, and their skate sharpening machines are also endorsed by the Society of Professional Hockey equipment managers (SPHEM). The Blademaster website offers a list of recommendations and positive reviews from Equipment Managers of several NHL teams, including Montreal Canadiens’ Pierre Gervais, Vancouver Canucks’ Pat O’Neill, as well as Hockey Canada’s Robin McDonald.
Guspro Heat Ovens
Guspro offers a unique expertise in the design and manufacture of Heat Cleaning Ovens. These ovens are popular as the most economical method of cleaning metal parts to remove materials such as varnish, paint, oil and plastic in order to reuse or recycle these parts. This technology is mostly used by the motor rewind industry, companies using electrostatic powder coating technologies, automotive parts rebuilding, and industries involving plastics.
Using heat-cleaning ovens minimizes environmental impact of discarding the harmful materials associated with these industries, and the emissions and the amounts of ash generated by the burn process are negligible. “the Fumes and smoke from this process are drawn into the afterburner that runs at 1,400 °F or higher, and re-burns the smoke to eliminate any harmful emissions. This is an environmentally friendly technology for cleaning industrial parts and tools,” says Moon.
The ovens must be sized to accommodate the largest pieces that require cleaning, as well as sized accordingly to keep up with the client’s production. Guspro ovens are sized according to the client’s needs. Guspro offers some 20 standard models that range in size from 2x2x2 feet, all the way to the largest, 8x10x8(WxDxH) feet, but the company is able to adjust the size to accommodate any specific application.
“While we have standard models to work with, in reality, we build the products to meet specific applications, and most of our products end up being customized to the clients’ needs. We are capable of modifying everything from the oven size, to afterburner heat requirements [up to 2,000 °F], as well as the control systems, data logging features and so forth,” says Sunnen.
Guspro continues to provide customers with high quality products all supported by Guspro’s genuine ability to keep abreast with the latest innovation and offer clients unsurpassed engineering know-how.