Manluk Global Manufacturing Solutions, which originated as a machine shop in 1978, has gone through a monumental amount of growth in the last decade. The company is a world leader in manufacturing petrochemical and mining products, and has extensive in-house capabilities making them “the first choice for customers looking for a complete turnkey part.”
It’s all in the numbers really. In 2000, 10,000 square feet were added to the main Manluk plant in order to accommodate future expansions. In addition, adjacent rental property totaling 6,000 square feet was incorporated into the main plant operations to manufacture orders from Syncrude for mining applications.
In 2002, the company bought land to accommodate increased workload and volume from Syncrude, once again expanding. The workforce at that point was about 110 people. The company purchased more vacant land in 2002 and 2003, and by that point, Manluk’s staff grew to 130 people. Technology was shifting manufacturing processes at this point, and in 2004 the first manufacturing cells using robotics and CNC lathes were operational in Manluk’s main plant. This made accommodating large orders much easier, and the growth continued.
The year 2005 marked a very important sales record—during a time when Alberta’s economy was booming and business was thriving because of the oil and gas industry in the province. Manluk rode the wave of the industry, and continued to do well. In 2006, the company received its ISO 9001:2000 certification and certification by American Petroleum Institute (API) for API Specification Q1.
Now, Manluk is at a steady growth with remarkable potential. With their ISO 9001:2008 certification received last August, the company is gearing up for a milestone year in 2011.
Innovation is key
Manluk, as an operation, is focused on innovation to fuel growth. One of the company’s biggest innovation is designing overlay materials, says Frank Luebe, Vice President of Manluk.
“We work as a consortium with another company in Germany, the largest coal mining company in Europe, for testing overlays, a joint initiative between both companies that gives us a very good perspective of mining in general. No other companies are involved with this, only our two enterprises as we both focus on overlays,” he explains. One might think this is a strong reason for competition, but Luebke says it is much more collaborative. “In one way we are competitors, but we are so far advanced that we are not worried about it. Our market strategies are different.”
Luebke has been in the business for almost 30 years, and knows how important it is to be at the forefront of innovation in the industry—he was partially responsible for bringing robotics into the business—making Manluk the first to use these technologies. Luebke says that Manluk is also a pioneer in tungsten carbide product development. “We were at the forefront of the tungsten carbide to be used in the oil sands, again in conjunction with a German company,” he says. This gave Manluk a “leading edge over our competitors, in that we were privately owned with the ability to acquire and manufacture our own equipment.”
This is the beauty of Manluk’s ability to manufacture their own equipment: The company can react instantly to the market in whatever the customer requires, “whether it is larger-size parts, very complicated parts, different materials that need to be overlaid,” and so on.
Manluk uses innovation to bolster all of their hard-faced and cladded components. Their facilities also house raw materials, and offer cutting, forging, machining, nitriding, finishing, coating, and quality control services over and above component provision.
Diversification and strategy
With over 120,000 square feet of manufacturing space and an expert team in place, the company has no problem handling the most complex customer requirements. “Our modern facilities are continually upgraded to provide the most efficient processing methods available to our employees,” Manluk assures. “By combining old world craftsmanship with cutting edge technologies we are able to deliver the highest of quality.”
Although the economy did have an impact on the company’s business, this impact was not more than a two to three per cent change. The reason the slowdown was, so to speak, so slow to impact them: “diversification into products in which we did not have a large market share,” Luebke reasons.
“With better materials, we automatically gained market share,” he adds. “We also focused heavily on refurbishment (as mines have a lot of moving equipment), especially on their rotary breakers and crushers. We focused heavily on showing the customer that the products can be rebuilt, and didn’t just sell them new parts.”
“That led us to the forefront once again—rebuilding because our competitors told them that it was not feasible or economical to rebuild. We have proven to them that, not only is it feasible, but it is also much better equipment after refurbishing. Another large diversification we did was into the manufacturing-end of our business for fabrication work, which was not a service we provided to our customers before. But because we kept all our manpower [during the recession], we just started picking up more of that market share.”
Quality is number one
Family-run businesses often say that a secret to success is company culture and that company culture brings about a certain respect and pride in customer service. For Manluk, business runs on customer service and functioning with quality at the forefront. “Quality is No. 1 on our list. Most companies aren’t willing to go to the extent to put quality programs in place. However, we find that with a quality program in place, it is reducing our costs, because if you make a quality product the first time, you never have to do it again,” Luebke says.
“Overall, it is a tool for us to manage our businesses, and we find it to be a very successful tool. We definitely have that quality edge.”
In addition to quality, innovation and company culture, Manluk can boast another key ingredient to business success: response time. “We can deliver products with a very good turnaround time, and it brings in other people who are buying,” Luebke says. “That response time is a definite asset to our customers because we can do the forging, the machining, the heat treating and the overlay all in-house,” he adds.
“Because we are still primarily a job shop, our customers do expect us to act very quickly,” Luebke continues, and Manluk is happy to oblige. The next step in strategy is for Manluk to add in-house engineers to the mix, and they look to bring this aspect to the company in the near future. With engineers in place, the company will be able to bring their own designs, patents and other tools to the table that they weren’t previously able to. With so many positive growth aspects to the Manluk business, the company remains a complete manufacturing solutions provider with a standup team—and business is sure to grow for decades to come.