Burlington manufacturer expands production to meet surging demand
Burlington, Ont.—Several years ago, ClydeUnion Pumps tweaked its marketing strategy, hired additional sales staff and took aim at previously untapped markets.
The move seems to be working for the pump manufacturer, which just relocated to a larger plant in Burlington, Ont.
“We were able to penetrate markets we were not in before,” reflects Shakil Ahmed, plant director and general manager with the Canadian operations of ClydeUnion Pumps, a global company headquarterd in Glasgow, Scotland.
“One of the markets we weren’t active in was upstream oil—companies that [are] using floating platforms with big rigs for exploration and pipeline projects, where they’re transporting oil from a remote location to a refinery.”
In fact, upstream oil has become ClydeUnion’s biggest customer, he notes. The new contracts spurred the company’s recent move to the larger facility, not far from its previous site in Burlington, with nearly double the manufacturing footprint and an upgraded pump testing facility.
In the past two years, the company has increased the number of employees from 70 to 110, hiring a mix of engineers, technicians, skilled workers, sales staff and shop floor employees.
More than 90 per cent of the company’s business has always been in oil and gas—with the remainder distributed among industrial customers, chemical, general manufacturing and water applications—but it mainly focused on downstream oil.
High gas prices and an uptick in exploration in Canada, the US and beyond have provided a “huge demand” for pumps in the upstream market, Ahmed says.
Plus, these projects typically require larger and more expensive pumps compared to downstream applications, he adds.
At the new 70,000 square-foot facility, ClydeUnion manufactures single and multi-stage centrifugal pumps, along with reciprocating power pumps.
“The key incentive for relocation was to obtain a larger footprint for our growing original equipment business. Another important initiative was commissioning the enhanced pump performance test facility, which is capable of testing up to 5,000 horsepower.”
The plant is now the company’s highest-powered testing facility in North America, and is expected to result in reduced lead times for customers, while providing them with the ability to witness more tests locally.
The testing facility at its previous location could only test to 900 horsepower, he notes.
Settled into its bigger plant, ClydeUnion aims to increase its regional customer base. Some of ClydeUnion’s products were previously manufactured solely in the UK, making it difficult to win domestic customers.
“There are two big competitors in the US, and they have local manufacturing,” he notes. “That’s one of the reasons we aren’t getting that marketshare.”
By producing additional products and capacity regionally, the company hopes to grow its domestic business, provide shorter lead times, and better compete in what’s proving to be a long-term robust market.