Reko International Group Inc., specialists in products and services in the metal cutting industry, boasts annual sales of $100 million. Headquartered in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Reko is the fifth largest supplier of injection molding tools in North America. Reko designs and manufactures plastic injection molds as well supplying large volume production parts. Customers world wide use Reko’s expertise in all aspects of tooling, gauges, welding and assembly, CMM holding fixtures, automation and custom machining. In addition, Reko provides prototype and production sheet metal laser and stamping services. Industries served cover automotive, aerospace, and consumer and industrial products. The company attained its market position through a focused approach by targeting specific tier-one and tier-two customers.
“One Stop” Solutions
Most noticeably, for its targeted customers, Reko has developed “one stop shopping” solutions through the introduction of its “tool box” concept. The “tool box” provides tooling, fixtures and gauges, secondary equipment as well as minority content for both tooling and injection molding production. A truly competitive strategy, “one stop” enables Reko to differentiate itself from its competitors.
“We believe our customers benefit greatly by having tooling, fixtures, and secondary automation come from the same company,” says Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mark Garcia. “There are synergies to be gained by utilizing common manufacturing processes and a single point of contact for the customer. A typical production program for our customers could consist of Reko supplied production tools, fixtures and gauges to check the dimensional stability and the secondary automation necessary for any assembly operations required. Our goal is to ensure our customers’ success. We achieve those goals through early up-front customer involvement, program management coordination and by developing common manufacturing processes.”
Such an approach has enabled Reko International to grow substantially since it was founded in 1976 by CEO Steve Reko. Today the company has 11 production tool making/automation manufacturing facilities located in the greater Windsor, Ontario area. United States facilities, all in Michigan, include a sales office in Troy, a prototype sheet metal stamping facility in South Lyon, a laser facility in Wixom, and an injection molding production facility in Rochester.
“Reko began as a small tool shop producing injection molding tooling. It has since grown to become one of the largest suppliers of injection molding tools in North America,” says Garcia. “Our ability to provide high quality cost competitive tools has been critical to our success.”
‘Tool Box’ Products
Always a pioneering force in the mold-making field, Reko has diversified itself in response to ever-changing market needs. The current organization structure includes five divisions: tooling and fixtures, automation, custom machining, metals, and production, as well as minority affiliations.
The Tooling Division includes nine production facilities, located in Windsor, Ontario, geared for mold and fixture making. It offers expertise in manufacturing of standard injection molds, compression molds, multi-material injection molds, hydroform tooling, stack molds and foam tooling. Reko is a major supplier to companies such as JCI, Lear, Plastech, Collins & Aikman, Intier, U.S. Farathane, Sarnamotive, Summit, Blackhawk Automotive and Continental. Its ability to provide cost competitive tooling has been critical to Reko’s success.
The Automation Division, located in Tecumseh, Ontario, provides automation solutions ranging from simple lean cells to multi-station high volume, high speed assembly lines. The division designs and builds applications that include robotic and palletized assembly, performing a variety of functions including, but not limited to, leak and flow testing, vision, fastening, and welding.
Related to the “tool box,” the division provides end of arm tooling, and secondary machines that perform a variety of operations on plastic molded parts including degating, clip insertion, screw driving, sonic welding and heat staking. In addition, Reko has developed a new modular concept that can handle multiple part types in one common machine frame thereby reducing investment costs.
The Custom Machining Division located in Tecumseh specializes in supplying high precision medium and large component custom machining. Machining envelopes can be as great as 526 inches by 184 inches x 120 inches. The division specializes in machining large components such as locomotive crankcases, engine blocks, injection molding machine bases and compressive frames for the gas and oil industry.
The Metals Division is comprised of Proto-Techniques Inc., and Novi Laser Incorporated. Proto-Techniques Inc. is a prototype/production metal and aluminum stamping operation located in South Lyon, Mich., that designs and manufactures prototype and production stamping dies and fixtures for exterior panels, chassis components, body-in-white components and full component assemblies. It is also ISO-certified and fully capable of providing high volume production requirements. Novi Laser Inc. is located in Wixom, Mich. and specializes in all aspects of laser cutting. Partnering with the Automation and Tooling Divisions, the Reko “tool box” can provide products and processes from the design and prototype stage through full production stamping and automated assembly.
The Production Division includes the recently acquired Superior Plastic company, located in Rochester, Mich., where injection-molding products are produced. The division includes two manufacturing facilities that house 26 injection molding presses ranging in size from 75 to 1,500 tons. Additional capabilities include assembly and interior trim painting.
The minority affiliations include a joint venture with The Mold Company (TMC), formed in 2003. Located in Troy, Mich., TMC specializes in producing small tonnage tools for both production and prototype builds. Customers can obtain both small and large tools for minority content. Larger tools can be subcontracted to Reko’s tooling division and shipped to TMC for finishing and assembly. Also, TMC provides minority content for production requirements. A stand-alone TMC facility at Superior Plastic provides sequencing, packaging, assembly and interior trim painting.
Unique Market Position
Explains Garcia, over the last four years, Reko has experienced significant growth, organically and through acquisition. “When we acquired Superior Plastics in 2003, we found ourselves in a unique position versus our competitors,” says Garcia. “In addition to the tools, fixtures and secondaries for our targeted customers, we can now provide the injection molding manufacturing capabilities to produce the parts. We target programs where our customers have made the conscious decision to outsource production.”
In looking to the future, Reko is continuing to develop offshore affiliations to meet the demands of an increasingly competitive market. The company has recognized significant cost savings by aligning itself with tooling manufacturers in China, Korea and Portugal. “A $2 million package that we may have produced three years ago is now sourced for $1.5 million,” explains Garcia. “We meet the challenge by driving down our own costs and improving first run capabilities. When customer targets dictate offshore content, Reko affiliations are included to participate as part of the overall strategy. We have to better manage customer relationships by being able to provide global solutions. Reko takes complete responsibility for all tool program management coordination with its single-point-of-contact concept.”
Essentially, Reko has witnessed economies of scale regarding the manufacture of small- to medium-sized tools built offshore. In addition, smaller tools can be air freighted and contain customer-timing requirements. The competitive advantage for medium and larger tools is not as significant. Reko will determine which tools should be built off-shore and which should be built in North America by Reko on a case by case basis. That strategy has paid off. Through affiliations with global partners, Reko is better able to hit the more aggressive cost and timing requirements benefiting the company and its customers.
“We are just now finishing a 30-tool package for one of our major customers; 10 of those tools will be built in Portugal and managed by Reko. Those offshore tools will come back to Reko for any graining and completion requirements. We will then ensure the tools are built to our customer standards and specifications before shipping them to our customer,” informs Garcia. “This specific program bears witness to our tool box vision and strategy. In addition to the tooling, we will also be providing the fixtures and the secondary automation.”
Reko is closely watching another significant trend. As a company that crosses the Canadian-United States border, Reko needs to keep a close eye on the exchange rate. “Most of our customers are located in the U.S. The strengthening Canadian dollar has had a major impact on our profit margin” he notes. “So we have to come up with new ways to offset the negative effects of the exchange rate.” One way, he adds, involves undertaking restructuring initiatives that will take costs out of the process, as well as a never-ending drive to improve all phases of our manufacturing process. “We’re here for the long run, which means we’ll continue to institute actions to drive out costs and improve our overall capabilities,” he says.