One of my goals with the articles I write is to highlight and support local successful companies. Success can be defined in different ways. In some cases it may mean surviving during difficult economic times, and in others, it may be mean blowing the competition away. Either way, success means different things to different people, and today I would like to highlight a Niagara company that has not only survived during difficult economic times, they have also learned to thrive.
Easily Moved Equipment (eme)
eme is a crane manufacturer here in Niagara and I can assure you, these are no ordinary cranes. The company got started in 2003 with an idea and some pretty neat engineering. The President, Michael Flynn started the company after the British company he had run in North America left. The opportunity to create, manufacture and distribute an improved line of lightweight aluminum gantry and davit cranes presented itself and Mr. Flynn took the plunge into serving a market he knew existed. Mr. Flynn’s experience was primarily in education and sales. Products were initially made by third parties but the business grew to such an extent that Mr. Flynn opened his own manufacturing facility in 2008.
The Crane’s the Thing!
I didn’t know much about small cranes but I sure learned a lot when I toured their small plant in St. Catharines. They make two type of cranes; one called a Gantry Crane and the other a Davit. Both are smaller cranes used in either a fixed location or can be used in various locations most other large cranes can’t access. (I would suggest checking out their website so you can see for yourself what these cranes look like; see link below).
The Gantry is a portable aluminum crane that, with wheels, can be moved safely while under full load. Its flexibility allows it to be used in situations other cranes can’t. Along with their standard and custom cranes, eme offered the world’s first 5-tonne Gantry Crane; quite an achievement for this local company.
The Davit Crane really caught my attention and I would describe it as the “little crane that could”. A Davit is basically a small crane that sits on a pedestal or as they call them Sockets. These cranes weigh either 34lbs or 43lbs and because of their light weight, can be carried easily by an operator from one socket to another. These cranes are also made of lightweight, aircraft-quality aluminum, move easily under loads, and are widely used in the water and waste-water industry. They are also known for having created the world’s first 1-tonne Davit Crane.
The attractiveness of these cranes is that customers can purchase many sockets but they only have to purchase one crane that can be “easily moved” from one socket to another since they are light weight.
Competitive Advantage and Price
What really struck me about what Michael was doing was the way he positioned his products. He was emphatic that the highest quality product must be produced with no exceptions; this not only included the cranes themselves, but also the nuts and bolts used to hold the cranes in places. Every piece used to make the cranes was durable and of the highest quality. All parts are thoroughly tested and engineer stamped.
When I visited the shop I was shown some pictures of one of their 5 tonne Gantry Cranes actually lifting a full-sized Hummer truck at a trade show. By looking at the crane you wouldn’t think that a few pieces of metal could lift something so big, but they can!
Michael was also emphatic about what he charges for his cranes; and they aren’t cheap. He told me a story about a customer describing his prices as comparing an average car on the street, not to a Rolls Royce but to an F15 Fighter Jet. But Mr. Flynn has no qualms about what he charges. He knows he has a far superior product compared to his competitors and he describes it as a “bullet proof” product. He said that his company is not in the spare parts business either since in the history of the company, they have only had to replace “1” broken part; now that’s quality.
The bottom line is, despite his pricing, his customer keep coming back to purchase his cranes. In eleven years his sales have gone from $62,000 to over $1.2 million today and he highlights the fact that one of the world largest rental companies is their largest customer.
The Future for eme
A big part of eme’s business is servicing the Waste Water business. With droughts in California in the news, treating waste water will only intensify over the coming years. Currently about $300 billion is spent worldwide on waste water treatment of which Michael says $76 million is spent in Niagara; this is a big business that isn’t going away and eme has significant opportunity for growth.
While they have a pretty good stronghold in Canada, Michael believes there are huge opportunities in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. His challenge will be to find a way to grow the company beyond its current size. From talking to a lot of business owners, this seems to be a common theme; going from a small business to a medium or large one offers many new challenges; capital being one of the biggest.
I look forward to seeing how they progress and I wish them all the best!!
Here is the link for their website: www.easilymovedequipment.com