Tucked away in Canada’s southernmost city of Windsor, Ontario, just south of the Detroit, Colonial Tool Group, Inc. has come a long way the past 85 years since its start as the Canadian arm of Michigan Tool in 1929.
Throughout its lifespan, it has been bought, sold as a subsidiary of a number of companies, including Ex-Cell-O Corporation in 1954 and Textron in 1986.
However, in 1993, with Textron on the verge of diversifying the operations, Brett Froats, co-owner and current vice president of sales, and some of his likeminded fellow managers decided to take the fate of Colonial into their own hands. After recognizing the amount of potential and quality employees, they decided to pool their resources together and purchase the company.
Now, some 21 years later, Colonial has grown into a major independent manufacturer and rebuilder of precision machine tool products in North America offering products that are engineered, manufactured, heat treated, and serviced in-house — a standard this company has upheld since its founding.
“I like to say that we try to market and grow our company slowly so we don’t over-commit,” Froats said. “We like the one-customer-at-a-time approach. We try to focus on individual customers as they come to us with their problems, and we try to develop a strong partnership. That’s how we’ve been growing our company and have been so successful.”
Colonial manufactures broach-cutting tools & machines, spline rolling racks, and special indexable cutting tools, line boring bars all used to manufacture powertrain components. They also manufacture and repair all types of spindles including motorized, gear driven and belt driven, with the largest volume of repairs come from CNC spindle repairs and complete machine retools.
Recently, Colonial has broadened its reach to the realm of work holding fixtures, accounting for 10-15 percent of its overall product portfolio.
“We’ve been doing it several years, but there seems to be a huge need and limited resources out there,” Froats said. “So, that’s been growing fairly quickly. We are gaining a good name in the market. We are steadily increasing our reputation with Nemak in Mexico with design and build of work holding fixtures for engine blocks, manifolds, and similar powertrain components that require unique locating and clamping for precision machining.
“Basically all of our products — about 70 percent — are focused on automotive. Within the automotive industry, it’s the powertrain components — transmissions and engines. So, work holding fixtures are a good fit with our products that we manufacture right now.”
Most of Colonial’s new products are manufactured in Windsor but can be easily serviced at its Michigan and Mexican facilities. Recently, Colonial shipped its first electric drive-broaching machine to Mexico.
However, despite all of its growth over the past two decades and annual revenue in the $20 million range, Colonial has maintained the quality and core values that customers seek out in a small company.
“It’s kind of ingrained in the culture here,” Froats said. “There was a learning curve on some of the work holding fixtures. It wasn’t perfect right from the start, but as we gained more experienced we recognize where to focus our attention.”
To learn more about how Colonial can meet your company’s tooling and work holding needs, call (866) 611-5119 or visit www.ctgi.co.