February 15, 2013
McCloskey International equipment pulverizes, sorts, and stacks aggregate.
The Kawartha Lakes area in Ontario entices visitors and residents alike to enjoy its freshwater lakes and rivers, natural beauty of the rolling hillside, golf courses, and pastoral charm. Nestled within the Kawarthas on the Trent-Severn Waterway is Peterborough, a town of 75,000 that boasts creative minds, lively music, eateries, a history of manufacturing, and the world's highest hydraulic lift lock.
On a farm just outside of Peterborough, tractors, plows, and balers are dwarfed by a changing variety of machines crushing stone pulled from the fields, sorting rocks, sand, and gravel or conveying the earthy materials into a mini-mountain of like-sized aggregate.
Speculators have guessed that a new golf course might be in the offing, but they are wrong. "What I'm doing," said Paschal McCloskey, owner of the farmstead and president and CEO of McCloskey Intl., "is building an antique Canadian farm. I love the land and I love farming. What that means is that I need a lot of my own equipment to do that job, especially soil movement and screening."
Less than a mile down the road, aptly named McCloskey Road, is the growing, 400,000-sq.-ft. complex where these crushing, screening, and stacking machines come to life. The farm and the hills behind the plant serve as testing grounds.
"We have 120 acres of land on a grade, and we're making plans to dig it up and put it through our machines. There are a million cubic yards of material to move. We'll recover the stone out of it and use it to test our crushers. Then we'll use that material for our road," said McCloskey, who is involved in every aspect of his company, from engineering to production to quality control to sales. "Back when I built the company in the mid-'80s, I would go out and demo the equipment. By being there physically I'd come back with improvements. It worked great."
Now that the company has grown to 315 employees working three shifts in two plants, one in Peterborough and one in Northern Ireland, McCloskey's time is stretched thin. The backyard testing sites offer easy, hands-on access for him and his team to physically work with the equipment, and that leads to further product improvements and innovations.
For example, sifting some earth on the farm resulted in a design change in the trommel line. "The way I was using the trommel, we couldn't get fuel into it. So we changed the design and now we have fuel access on both sides."
A McCloskey Mini Sizer, a compact piece of equipment the company manufactures, has a 5- by 5-ft., double-deck screenbox for screening topsoil and mixed aggregates at construction and demolition sites. It weighs in at a petite 5,732 lbs.
The I54 crusher, in essence a portable factory that incorporates an independently vibrating prescreen box and an impactor designed for large, lump-size feeding, tips the scales at 106,260 lbs. Its hopper has a gross capacity of 13.3 cubic yards. For shipping, it folds to a tidy 11-ft. 9- in.- high by 53-ft. 7-in.-long package.
At the bottom of a quarry, several of the green machines may be working together. The vibratory feeders of a J50 jaw crusher could be moving material to an S190 triple-deck screening plant, which feeds oversized material to a C44 cone crusher to produce 1-in. or smaller finished product that is stockpiled by a 36-in.-wide by 90-ft.-long, heavy-duty stacking conveyor.
McCloskey traces his love of the land back to his childhood, which was spent on a family farm in Ireland. He left the Emerald Isle when he finished his apprenticeship training during the 1980s recession. "There was nothing going on. They were mired in recession for years. I came over because I wanted to be in business. I came to Montreal, moved to Ontario at the end of 1982, and started the business building conveyors in Ajax, Ont., at the end of 1985. I started in the conveyor business and got distracted. That's what made me what I am today."
Those first conveyors were contracted by a company that would now be considered a competitor. When that same company asked him to build a trommel in the early 1990s and then pulled out, McCloskey finished the project, added his name, and introduced the first machine of the McCloskey line.
As a start-up company, McCloskey Intl. performed part fabrication from motor mounts to mechanical assemblies to frames in-house. A machine a week found its way to a customer, but the market called for more, and that called for additional production space. In 1998 McCloskey purchased the building in Peterborough. It took a year and a half, until 2000, to slow production down enough to complete the move.
Four years later the Tyrone plant in Northern Ireland was added to boost production capacity and efficiency in serving international customers. "It was part of our road map to go international. I went back to Ireland simply because I was from there," McCloskey said. "The issue with Ireland is that nothing is made there. All your steel, all your raw materials have to be shipped in. If you can make manufacturing work in Ireland, you can make it work anywhere.
"I put a team together and bought a bankrupt company that was in the gravel screening business. It was a good company with good people, and I believed I could fix the engineering that was their problem. So this ugly duckling got prettied-up."
Ninety percent of McCloskey's equipment is exported. Peterborough ships to North American and Japanese customers. "The North American market is the biggest, the best in the world, so Peterborough supplies that. We ship to other countries from here, too, but to go to Russia, for example, it's much cheaper to ship from Ireland."
The Tyrone plant ships to customers in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Russia. "Business is about a 60-40 split. We do 60 percent here in Canada, but Ireland is growing too." Africa, Australia, and South America also accept their share of McCloskey equipment.
Today companies from St. Thomas to Quebec waterjet- and laser-cut large, heavy steel parts up to 3⁄8 in. thick and provide hundreds of subassemblies. The components come together in a mix of robotic and manual gas metal arc welding stations located throughout the assembly bays. The majority of McCloskey equipment is powered by Tier 3 Cat® engines.
Although most material processing needs are outsourced, rolling, shearing, and forming equipment is available in-house to fabricate components for custom units.
Three shifts keep assembly going around the clock to complete between 15 and 20 machines a week, many with customer-driven customizations.
"For me it's all R&D. If our customer is looking for something unique, we try to provide it—within reason. A lot of the customizations have wiggled their way into standard products. We don't like to say no to our customers, but we stick with things within our range of capability. One criterion—we don't like static equipment. It has to be portable in some form, on wheels or tracks."
Repair and replacement parts also comprise a significant segment of the business. Crushing and sorting rocks and gravel are brutal on equipment, some parts simply wear down in a month or two, and the working environments aren't typically friendly. Wear parts are kept in inventory at both plants, and several dealers are finding it profitable to provide stocking services to save shipping lead- times that can be as much as a few weeks for a 3,000-lb. part.
This year the Peterborough plant will gain another 325,000-sq.-ft. expansion for in-house painting capabilities and gain several overhead cranes for additional assembly lines. The Tyrone plant will add conveyor construction to its production mix.
Regarding products, McCloskey said they will concentrate on continuous improvements and product enhancements rather than introducing a new line. And, investments in tradeshows and one-on-one visits contribute to expanding international marketing efforts.
"This year we will spend a lot of time looking for people. We need champions, business leaders. I expect us to have growth in 2013 of at least 20 percent. In 2012 it was almost 60 percent. What's contributed to that is that we are building our dealer network. We have 65 dealers, and our goal in the next two years is to have 100. There is lots of opportunity in South America, Brazil, so we will continue to grow, I'm sure."
Founded in 1986, Canadian Industrial Machinery is a full-service magazine supporting Canada's metalworking manufacturing sector. CIM is Canada's leading national monthly magazine dedicated to the metalworking and fabricating industry, reaching nearly 17,000 industry professionals every month.