Operating as a custom metal manufacturing company since 1934, ISE Metal has long served as a reliable and high-quality stamping company for North American industry. Steve Engelhardt reports on what truly is a dynamic company.
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Recently, however, the company is adding another feather to its cap, channeling its longstanding expertise of metalworking and using such to transition towards the design and development of new, metal-based products for the personal storage and waste-water treatment markets. Jared Henderson, Director of Sales for the company and son of ISE Metal owner Robert Henderson, and Marc Boily business development manager, talk about the exciting steps ISE Metal is taking towards the future through their Consto and Aquanox divisions, while reinforcing the company’s commitment to manufacturing excellence through the acquisition of a new production facility in Mexico.
Celebrating its 80th year in business, the company’s ownership passed into Robert Henderson’s hands when he bought ISE Metal in 1993. “Prior to that point, the company was primarily operating as a metal stamper,” says Henderson, adding, “But upon my father taking the helm, it has since evolved into a laser cutting, assembly-type business that impacts markets in North America and beyond.” He says that through these capabilities they are able to service a wide variety of industries, from automotive and appliance, to packaging and customized machinery. “Any project-based industry that values high-quality sheet metal is one that we can excel and succeed in.”
Over the last twenty or so years, ISE Metal has been churning out these metal products and parts across its six facilities in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Operating under ISO-9001 certified-production, the company enjoys deep partnerships with locally-based conglomerates like GLV for its pulp and paper needs, as well as international players like LWB, a German company that produces metal stamp carriers for the automotive market. “We’re able to work with companies of all sizes and locations because of the long list of manufacturing capabilities we can offer; all of which is done through quality and lean-based principles,” Henderson says. And it’s this overarching presence of manufacturing proficiency that led to a light bulb going off in his head a couple years ago.
Securing A Need
In the summer of 2012, Henderson was living in Ottawa, in a new condo complex. “These new condominiums, which have been popping up all over Canada and the U.S. over the last few years, don’t really come with a lot of personal storage space, and as an avid hockey player and general outdoor enthusiast, I found myself having to store much of my offseason clothing and equipment outside in my car,” he says, adding, “I noticed a lot of other people living in the complex were doing the same and while it wasn’t an optimal situation, we didn’t really have any other choice.” His dissatisfaction was justified when he had his car broken into one night, and all of his equipment and clothing stolen.
“I was upset because I had seen this coming, and I thought to myself, as these kind of residencies become increasingly prevalent across North America, there are going to be many others dealing with this storage and peace of mind issue,” he says, adding, “I said, ‘There’s got to be a better way’, and when I looked at my parking spot, the relative consistency of its size of space compared to those in other complexes, and then considered ISE Metal’s manufacturing capabilities, I was able to find a solution.”
Henderson’s solution was to develop a 6-foot high by 6-foot wide, 2.5-foot deep, personal storage locker that could fit in the back of a parking lot and serve as a safe, cost-effective method to store and protect one’s seasonal items and valuables. “The product is called theConsto Locker, and with doors on both sides, you’re able to back in fully with your vehicle and open the locker from its sides, rather than just in front” he says. With nearly 100 cubic feet of storage room, it prevents a sizable space that can fit anything from bikes and winter tires, to sporting equipment and personal items. “It’s a much more cost-effective solution than having to travel to and from public storage locations, where prolonged storage can be as high as a hundred dollars a month.”
Perhaps most impressive about the Consto Locker is that it’s going to be manufactured within ISE Metal’s facilities, allowing customers to be confident that a product designed for storage and security purposes is being produced at the same level of quality that all other ISE Metal products and parts are. An innovative, quality-based product that looks to serve the fast emerging condominium markets in North America, readers can learn even more about the Consto Locker by visiting www.consto.ca.
Controlling the Flow
Aside from the Consto Locker, ISE Metal has another division that is looking to make its own impact, albeit in an entirely different market. A year and a half ago, the company’s Aquanox division began production of a line of fabricated, stainless steel water control gates designed for waste-water and municipal water treatment markets in the U.S. and Canada. “Prior to this, there was a company called Fontaine Industries here in Canada that had been producing these gates for quite some time, but eventually had to close and consolidate,” says Boily, adding, “When this happened, there were quite a few experienced employees from their company looking for work, and we found that with their preexisting expertise and our metalworking excellence, there was an opportunity to be had.”
Now, in 2014, Aquanox is up and running, manufacturing and selling high-quality water control gates from sizes as small as 1-foot long by 1-foot wide to as large as 10-feet long by 10-feet wide. “We are already seeing a lot of demand for these products in North America, and we know that there will eventually be growth in Europe as well,” Boily says, continuing, “and then when you consider other, less-developed areas of the world where the treatment and management of water are fast approaching concepts, we really view the sky as the limit in terms of these products’ potential.”
Boily says that since launching in 2013, growth has been rapid and he expects 2015 to double, or perhaps even triple their current revenue figures. “It’s a custom built, fully-engineered product that can be delivered within days of order, and we’re very optimistic about where it’s headed, given what the market currently offers.”
The development of the Consto Locker and Aquanox’s water control gates show ISE Metal’s dynamic mindset and focus on the future. “It was always my father’s vision to eventually go beyond being merely subcontractors and produce our own proprietary products,” Henderson says, adding, “We’ve now taken those steps and in doing so, have laid out what is a very exciting future in front of us.”
In addition to their venture into product development, ISE Metal also recently opened a new production facility in Saltillo, Mexico, to meet stamping demand that has slowly crept out of North America and into countries with cheaper labor. “We’re taking on new industries while still maintaining our commitment to providing quality metal stamping solutions, and this move to Mexico reinforces that notion,” Henderson says, adding, “We also have tentative plans to expand our line of stamped carriers into Brazil as well, as that market continues to grow.” ISE Metal’s reactive and practical decision making has them set up to succeed across a wide variety of markets for many years to come. In a time where many companies similar to them are experiencing cutbacks and generally slowing down overall, the company is putting its foot firmly on the pedal, speeding ahead towards what should be a fruitful destination.