For over 30 years the leading pallet and sawmill magazine in America.
360 Industrial Movers Adds Crate Building to Its Portfolio of Machinery Moving Services
Moving Ahead: Industrial shipping company expands into crating to boost efficiency, reduce waste and improve customer service. How can you add value to your current operations?
By Rick LeBlanc
Date Posted: 2/1/2016
Industrial shipping company expands into crating to boost efficiency, reduce waste and improve customer service. How can you add value to your current operations?
The heavy machinery and equipment moving industry is an important market for the specialty wood packaging industry. Crating is a requirement for 20% or more of industrial moving jobs with wood blocking and bracing more commonly employed. And the need for both domestic and international protective packaging shows no sign of slowing down.
360 Industrial Movers, a heavy equipment moving company in Vancouver, British Columbia, has found custom wood crating to be huge growth opportunity. Also, the new service has helped the company become more environmentally conscious and enhance its overall operations.
The company has attracted a lot of attention of late thanks to a series of radio ads it has run in the region. While it may seem odd to hear about transport packaging and industrial moving services on the radio, it turns out that running morning commute commercials has been a great way to stay on the minds of potential buyers.
360 Industrial Movers offers a complete range of services related to the moving of machinery and other heavy equipment, from dismantling and crating to moving, uncrating and re-installation. It provides crating as an element of its overall industrial moving operation. At first the small company met its crating requirements through outsourcing the work to local wood packaging companies. But after receiving quotes in conjunction with a large project that it thought were too high, 360 Industrial Movers decided to jump into the fabrication business. That was a switch the company made three years ago and has been happy with the result, according to Bernie Cordukes, owner and project manager.
There were a number of reasons why the move to bring the crating fabrication in-house made sense. Cordukes explained that as an industrial mover, it regularly uncrates equipment, and then takes away the crating as part of its service. “In the past I would accumulate and throw away thousands of dollars’ worth of crating every year,” he said. “I just didn’t have a market for it.”
With the establishment of its crating operation, the company can now reuse crating for appropriate shipments within Canada and the United States. Also, it can use surplus material for the ongoing blocking and bracing requirements associated with equipment moving. For international loads, the company sources new ISPM-15 certified material as required.
For the young company, entering the crating business also served another important function in filling available hours for its workforce between projects. Cordukes added that because the industrial moving business has peaks and valleys around projects, taking on the crating function allowed the company to provide work during otherwise quiet periods. Branching into crating was not entirely new ground, as the crew already was quite experienced in removing equipment from fabricating crates and dismantling them as required. In addition, one of his employees had considerable crate assembly experience from a previous job in South Africa.
Cordukes said that his company received an important validation on an early job when a customer enlisted a marine surveyor to inspect its crating prior to shipment. While a competitor who had another piece of the project failed with its crating, 360 Industrial passed with only minor revisions. “That gave us faith that we were moving in the right direction,” he said.
“We ensure that wood is to the proper standard,” Cordukes continued. “You don’t build a great crating or equipment moving company by just doing a good job. We make sure we do an excellent job. That’s the bottom line in any business.” Doing an excellent job, Cordukes feels is critical to not only winning repeat business, but also for word of mouth referrals. He reckons that the average repeat business cycle is somewhere around 3-5 years between equipment moves for any particular company. With this in mind, he stated, you need to be exceptional to be remembered for next time.
The operation of 360 Industrial Movers’ crating business is predominantly in relation to its moving services. Beyond crating, the company offers industrial grade shrink wrap, as well as cushioning, anti-static materials and moisture absorbing desiccants as needed.
The company’s work is diverse. In addition to uncrating machinery arrivals from all over the world, some of its projects have included moving a plywood laminating equipment, door and roofing material plants, cement testing equipment, wire fencing lines, CNC machinery, boilers, transformers, and even a large totem pole, which seems appropriate in British Columbia. Its largest move to date has been moving a newspaper production plant, a job that involved a 4-story high, 500-foot-long printing press weighing over 2,500 tons, which was located on the second floor of the building. Also part of the project were 27 roll feeders, each weighing 20,000 lbs., as well as conveyor belting. A total of 107 semi-trailers were involved in transporting the equipment away to its eventual destination in Ontario.
With the support of C&D Logistics, Cordukes has his eyes set on continuing to deliver excellent customer service, while keeping his focus on growth. “I realized early on that if I was to be hit by a bus, then there would be no business,” he remarked dryly. With that in mind, he took care to fully train one of his staff to run the business in his absence, and has fully documented the operating procedures of the firm. As business expands, his plan is to further employ his current strategy of flexing his highly cross-trained group into two or three different teams and add staff as needed to accommodate near term growth.
For Cordukes, the decision to build his own crates, like his move into the industrial moving business, also came quickly. Cordukes decided to start his own company after working nine months for a leading competitor.
“I looked around and thought, I can do this,” Cordukes remarked. “I started the company with just a pallet jack and four roll bars and managed to make a business of it. Looking back now,” he quipped, “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Today, the small company has an operations base in Delta, B.C., as well as warehouse space at a different location for customer machinery storage - one of its services. The administrative offices for 360 Industrial Movers are located at a third site, shared with C&D Logistics, which last year became 360 Industrial’s parent company. The affiliation with C&D Logistics has opened up a lot of opportunities for 360 Industrial. Being able to access the administrative systems of C&D means that 360 will be able to grow without the need to drain substantial resources towards admin overhead.
360 Industrial Movers’ radio ads are a byproduct of piggybacking off an established marketing campaign done by C&D Logistics. In addition to radio, the company promotes its services using a Facebook page detailing challenging moves it has done. Cordukes commented that people seem to enjoy posts due to the unusual nature of the work they perform. The added bonus is keeping their company in the customer’s mind, given that it might be five years before they have another big move.
Expanding to include more value-added services is a key for growth at 360 Industrial Movers. How can you mimic its approach for the wood pallet and packaging sector? How can you take custom packaging to the next level?