Pipe inspection camera manufacturer experiencing growth during the pandemic due to diverse supply chain
by Sadi Muktadir
Hathorn carries a higher inventory of its critical parts so it can always supply its manufacturing facilities.
It is no secret that the semiconductor shortage has affected many industries, including manufacturers across all sectors. The automotive industry has been hit especially hard, with some models of the Ford F-150 being manufactured and shipped without the semiconductor and smart feature capabilities, while other manufacturers grapple with and scramble to fulfill backlogged orders.
Hathorn Corporation is a pipe inspection camera manufacturer involved in the residential and construction industry, providing pipe inspection cameras used in prefeasability studies, real estate inspections and utilities industries, manufactured at their Markham, ON facility for clients across North America. Through the pandemic, they experienced a 30% growth and as an SME that would normally be squeezed by the chip shortage, supported growth through a diverse supply chain instead.
When asked about how large the pipe inspection camera market was, Rob Luck, President of Hathorn Corporation was clear.
“It’s a market that’s huge and still poised for more growth,” says Rob. “So many companies in the utilities industry, in construction, in real estate, all need targeted inspections. Whether it’s for maintenance, repair, reselling, improvements. It’s a half billion dollar industry just in municipal and residential pipelines, and the aging infrastructure we have means there’s a current need for camera inspections across North America.”
According to Rob, Hathorn was able to increase its revenue for a few reasons beyond having a diverse supply chain. As a result of the pandemic, the real estate market heated up considerably, as people were spending more time at home compared to the office, and this added pressure on aging infrastructure to be properly maintained. Secondly, Hathorn has recently started to market itself. Prior to Rob’s acquisition in 2019, Hathorn was content to be a small manufacturer of cameras for the residential inspection market.
“We were almost too Canadian to a fault,” Rob says. “We didn’t promote ourselves, we were happy being quiet, modest, that sort of thing. Even with 80% of our business in the US, it was just word of mouth that got us there. Now, we’re really pushing our digital channels and it’s been effective. We’re pushing to double our brand recognition this year and we think we’ll get there.”
Due to the pandemic and semiconductor shortage, many manufacturers are stockpiling their raw goods and materials, and Hathorn counts itself as among them.
“Suppliers are saying prices are going up for a lot of materials and with the exchange rate the way it is, it’s made things more expensive. Our size has allowed us to be flexible. If I make 500 of a thing, I can find those parts here and there and fulfill the needs of an order that size, but if I’m a huge manufacturer and I need 50,000 of those items, I’m going to feel the supply chain crunch a lot harder,” Rob says.
As a result, Hathorn carries a higher inventory of its critical parts so it can always supply its manufacturing facilities and is continually looking at ways to diversify its supply chain.
Hathorn remains positive about the future and plans to continue its brand recognition efforts into 2022 as it grows without some of the backlogging issues plaguing larger manufacturers.