Boasting a 40-plus year flight record of innovation, Cyclone Manufacturing has positioned itself to effectively compete in the global aerospace industry market. Currently engaged in an Ontario-based economic development program, the company anticipates increasing value to its customers while fostering its region’s economic health. Dan Harvey describes how the Canadian-based enterprise intends to accomplish these goals.
Cyclone Manufacturing Inc. is a bright northern beacon, an organizational aurora that displays a dazzling light that reflects positively on the global aerospace industry as well as Ontario’s manufacturing sector.
Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, and a supplier of aerospace components and subassemblies, Cyclone Manufacturing’s success helped bolster a recently depressed manufacturing environment, securing job situations for the more than 300 employees who help produce the company’s lightweight parts for military and commercial aircraft.
Cyclone Manufacturing operates within a region that includes more than 350 aerospace suppliers. Yet, it has managed to stand out in this highly competitive marketplace, developing international partnerships with leading companies such as Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and Northrop Grumman. Not only has the company attached itself to air flight programs such as the Boeing 787, Airbus A380 and A350 and Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop and Joint Strike Fighter, but Cyclone has propelled itself into space exploration: Its high-tech parts have gone into space shuttle aircraft assembly.
NEW TECHNOLOGICAL INVESTMENTS
The company is further solidifying its regional impact and global presence by investing in technology that will create new materials that will make its clients’ aircraft significantly lighter and, in turn, much more fuel efficient. The upshot is lower cost for airlines and significantly reduced emissions that benefit the global environment.
Customers not only stand to profit from this new direction: Cyclone anticipates that it will secure new business for itself, increase its workforce and, in turn, create new jobs in the Ontario region.
The five-year investment plan, announced in January 2009, involves a regional financial infusion with monetary support provided by the Next Generation of Job Funds, an initiative developed by the Ontario government to protect and create jobs. A $1.15 billion business incentive strategy, the Next Generation program was designed to spur growth for innovative companies, such as Cyclone Manufacturing, to create well-paying, sustainable jobs for the current Ontario work force as well as the next generation of highly skilled workers. The Ontario government modeled the program after its own highly successful Automotive Investment Strategy, which helped leverage more than $7 billion in total new automotive industry investments and secured the safety of thousands of regional jobs.
The new program advances a five-spoked plan to cultivate the region’s economy. Specifically, the five points of this business pentagram address skills and training, infrastructure investments, business partnerships, technological innovation and reduced business costs.
For its part, Cyclone Manufacturing, through a management promise, intends to create more than 100 new job positions in exchange for a $7.7 million provincial grant. But the program’s symbiotic nature also engenders growth and development for participating business entities, as described by Cyclone Manufacturing’s President Andrew Sochaj: “The Ontario government’s support enables us to accelerate our own growth plans. The investment allows us to offer our customers a much broader range of products and services.”
Cyclone Manufacturing entered the program already far ahead of the curve, so to speak. The company’s conference-room charts delineated robust health. Two years ago, it grew by 10 percent. That percentage doubled a year later. By 2008, the company realized 25 percent growth. Ten to 15 percent growth is anticipated for the upcoming year, reports Sochaj.
As it evolved, the company achieved the highest industry standards (ISO-9002 and AS9100), and it built a strong foundation on which to develop. “We’ve already accomplished about one-fifth of the five-year program,” reports Sochaj. “But we anticipate the bulk to happen over the next several years, a period that will see expansion in our machining and subassembly capabilities, as well as our final processing line. We are building a line that measures 25 feet long and, when finished, it will be the second longest in Canada. In our second phase, or second year, we will start working with our composite capabilities and, at the same time, increase our subspecialty work.”
The company currently manufactures its products within the confines of its Mississauga facilities, which encompass 220,000 square feet. Specific products include structural components (for wing, fuselage, tail section, nose and cabin), actuators, titanium and aluminum floor beams, landing gear and flight-control component, and cockpit display panels.
Equipment the company deploys boasts high-speed 5-axis machining capability, which enables Cyclone to produce the most comprehensive aerospace components in record time. Other technology includes shot peening, CNC lathes and conventional equipment such as lathes, grinders and milling machines. The company continuously updates equipment to meet market and customer demands, a mission element that made participation in the New Generation program so attractive.
The company was a forward-moving organization from its inception. Its roots extend to 1964, when its antecedent sought to fill a then-existing void in the Toronto manufacturing market for cylindrical grinding for larger machine shops. From there, Cyclone expanded operations to become one of Canada’s first manufacturers and grinders of a new technology related to indexible cutters.
The company diversified in the 1970s, when it moved into the aerospace industry, gaining market entrance largely by providing both conventional machining and turning that supported companies such as Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Dehavilland aircraft. In the 1980s, the company purchased its first CNC machine to support its aerospace customers. In the process, the company gained a competitive edge in meeting the new requirements of its targeted industry.
In the 1990s (following a 1989 acquisition that gave Sochaj ownership of the company), Cyclone expanded its production facilities from 24,000 to 60,000 square feet and added 4-5 axis capabilities – developments that addressed the growing needs of aerospace customers. During this period, responding to increasing needs for integration, Cyclone became an integrator and subsequently developed strong international partnerships.
After purchasing the company, Sochaj invested more than $14 million into its development, which spurred sales from $2.5 million to $17 million during his tenure.
Today, Sochaj’s focus is on making the company more competitive on a global scale. “We have to compete with the entire world, particularly Mexico and China. Thus, we need to make sure we manufacture products in the most competitive fashion.”
Company technology meets this growth need, Sochaj indicates. As he points out, Cyclone Manufacturing is one of the few companies in the world that has at-hand capabilities such as 5-axis machining, water-jet cutting and an extensive processing line. As a result, the company has been receiving work from Taiwan, Israel and Europe. It is also looking to develop partnerships with companies in South America, specifically Brazil.
“The Taiwanese and Brazilian markets are very competitive, as respective labor costs are significantly lower than what you find in Canada, but we manage to compete with them anyway,” says Sochaj.
Cyclone not only can hold its own when operating in the global market but it is supplying product that is environmentally friendly – promoting zero emissions – a direction that is fostered by its involvement in the Next Generation program.
“We not only want to succeed, but we want to reduce our impact on the environment,” concludes Sochaj.