Gullco International is a world-renowned manufacturer of automated welding equipment and accessories. Formed in 1954, Gullco International remains an internationally successful and privately owned Canadian company with global headquarters and production proudly located in Newmarket, Ont. From here, through its companies in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, India, Australia, and China, and its worldwide distributor network, Gullco sells high quality automatic welding machines for industrial applications around the whole world.
When we talk about welding automation, generally we imagine the car commercials where the robotic arm does small, quick welds on the frame of the car. Gullco equipment is none of the sort, and is generally applied to large, repeatable welds. The company was originally set up to challenge the U.S. competition during the ship building boom of 1950’s. Gullco’s original KAT Carriage product line was developed in 1950’s to mechanize straight welds, and the company sells its original product to this day. Gullco mechanized straight welding by taking the welding gun out of the hands of the welder and mounting it on the carriage and on tracks in order to create straight and consistent weld.
“Our equipment is meant for large welds such as ships, where you have to weld for 20 feet, and use multiple passes for the weld because of the thickness of the material,” says Nick Drake, Marketing Manager. “Our products increase both productivity and speed up the process, as well as increase the quality of the weld by eliminating the stops and the starts of the weld. Ships and tanks are built from large large sheets of metal welded together both horizontally and vertically. One 10-foot weld with multiple passes may take a welder the entire day. Our product eliminated the stops and the starts of the manual welder, hence eliminating weld defects. Tank welding, pressure vessels or pipelines have a large amount of regulations, and the welds undergo X-ray quality testing, etc. to ensure the pipes will not burst, so quality welds and welding equipment are paramount.”
The company offers several product lines – KAT®, Moggy®, SAM®, KBM® and KATBAK® – and all of them are an extension of the original KAT system or provide support to the welding processes across different welding circumstances. Gullco produces automated welding, cutting and beveling operations, including top-of-the-class welding carriages, cutting carriages and beveling machines, travel carriages and tracks, orbital welding products, electrode ovens, custom ceramic weld backing, custom flux conditioning and control systems, including flux hopper, and flux rebake and holding ovens.
The surprising part is that to this day Gullco proudly produces all if its product in Canada, manufacturing in its 80,000 square foot facility in Newmarket, Ont., meaning that the company has maintained its manufacturing in Canada for over 60 years.
“There may be a high cost of doing business this way, and we may have a higher priced product, but we sell a product that’s manufactured in Canada, and we have the control over the process and production from start to finish, so it is a high-quality product. Because of that, we have a higher quality assurance coming out of our factory in comparison to products coming out of China, India and others. It’s like buying a higher-end car — we stand by our product, and there is a service and a community that comes with the high-end product.”
The company took a hit following the 2008 crisis as many infrastructure projects shut down, but the company has been focused on markets with large growing infrastructures such as South American countries and the Middle East. “We are very much a global company, and all markets suffered at that time, but we have seen a huge built up on projects. The years before 2008 were Gullco’s best years, and we are coming up back to those levels,” says Drake.
While the business is building back up, Gullco’s management knows that research and development lay at the heart of long-term success of any engineering company. And while Gullco remains global expert on welding, the R&D team continues to work closely with clients and listens to the welders in the field.
“Sometimes we give welders what they need, and sometimes we give them what they want and design custom engineered systems for clients such as Ontario Power, Canadian government, and so on,” says Drake. “But for the most part, we continuously improve on the systems we already have. Our goal is to continue to improve precision, improve accessories, and create accessories for new applications. While welding may come across as a primitive process of melting two metals together, there is a high level of precision involved on the high-end welds, and our R&D is built around providing the operator with that extra degree of control over the weld itself.”
The company remains proudly Canadian since 1954, and its highly experienced team continues to break new ground in precision welding with focus in building quality precision products.