After Nino D’Andrea had earned his degree in mechanical engineering, he was recruited to join a cutting tool company straight out of college. He worked hard, seeing the company’s sales double, and rose to the position of plant manager. But after four years he found himself with just two things: a great deal of resentment, and the desire to create something of his own.
“The president of the company was a very hard man to work for,” D’Andrea recalls. “We had different managerial philosophies and visions, and I didn’t feel as though the company could fulfill my desire of being a leading-edge manufacturer within the Americas. So the short of it is that I finally quit, bought a grinder, and went into business for myself.”
That one grinder was literally all he had to work with at first, but he bought an industrial index and started making calls. “A friend of mine let me set up shop in the corner of his business, and I had about 150 square feet in all,” he says. “But that didn’t matter to me. I started making cold calls, asking people to give me a shot at their business, and it only took a couple of days before I had my first order. And these were people that I identified on my own, I didn’t call a single customer that my former employer worked with. And then, once that first invoice had been paid, I bought another machine, and then about a month after that I hired my first employee, and that’s exactly how this business was built–one step at a time.”
Even though he was relieved to have left his previous job behind him, the early days were tough. “Every single dollar you make has to go back into the business when you’re first getting started,” D’Andrea says, “and there are no guarantees that the order you just finished isn’t going to be the last. It was all touch and go, and very hard work. I don’t think I drew any money out of the company at all until we’d been in business for a couple of years, in fact. It was all buy a machine, hire an employee, then buy another machine and hire another employee. It was a constant reinvestment then, and that’s what we’re still doing today.”
All of those employees are still with the company 10 years later, he says, with a total of 12 skilled craftsmen on the shop floor. And from 150 square feet and a single grinder, Canada Broach’s 45 gear machines — most of them with CNC controls, and purchased new — take up 9,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and more room will soon be required with new machines on the way.
From its headquarters in Toronto, Canada Broach ships its products throughout North America, with plans to expand into Mexico in the near future, and new products are also in the design stages. D’Andrea says he’s encouraged to see the company moving forward once again; a trend that began in early 2004 after a two-year downturn that saw his profit margins slashed nearly to cost.
“Things began to tank right after September 11, and the next couple of years were pretty hand to mouth,” he says. “But then, in February of last year, boom! Everything started to pick up again, and we’ve really been making up for lost time. We’ve still got a ways to go to catch up with some of our competitors, but I think the whole industry is in recovery mode right now. It’s just good to be back in the business of what we do best–manufacturing a quality product, taking care of our customers, and meeting our ship dates. As long as you pay attention to those three things, everything else will take care of itself.”