Automation brings manufacturing efficiencies and economy, and this is the goal for GN Corps. Inc. The 50-year-old company’s products include well stimulation, completion and cementing equipment; high-pressure fittings and connections; check, flapper, dart and lockout valves; treating irons; ball injectors; and tree-savers.
For wire lines, GN manufactures surface and subsurface equipment. “We do lower line surface equipment for our line and high-pressure surface equipment,” President John Plesa says. “That’s under our own brand and that is sold everywhere in the world. We also have some unique products that are niche products used in hydraulic fracturing and in well servicing. We’re selling direct all over the world. The biggest part of our work is OEM work – 90 percent of what we do is OEM work. We’re making other people’s tools; they’re sold under their name.”
GN Corps. Inc. is feeling strong competition from outside of North America. “We’re in a very competitive market serving the oil and gas industry for the most part, and our challenges are coming from where the price of oil is currently,” President John Plesa reports.
He expects increased automation to give him the upper hand in the market. “What we’re doing here is we’re embarking on an automation platform which is going to introduce a lot of automated work cells in this organization,” Plesa promises. “By the end of this calendar year, about 25 percent of our production will be coming from fully automated systems. Our goal in the next 12 months or toward the end of 2016 is to be the most automated manufacturer in the world in the energy sector.”
To reach this bold goal, Plesa is planning to expand his 115,000 square feet of manufacturing space in Airdrie, Alberta, by 50 percent. “We also might be looking at a facility somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 to 75,000 square feet in addition to what we already have on these premises,” he predicts. “That probably will happen somewhere either next year or 2017. One or both of those scenarios will unfold.”
If a second plant is established, it most probably would be located in Texas, where Plesa estimates approximately 70 percent of GN’s business is located. “We do a lot in that part of the United States,” Plesa says. “Alberta is 10 percent of our total business. The rest is outside of North America – 20 percent is international.”
GN’s competitive advantages are in several areas. “It’s going to be price, quality and delivery,” he says. “We even are a form of market intelligence with our major clients.”
GN Corps. handles a great variety of manufacturing processes in-house. “In terms of our manufacturing, it’s 100 percent,” Plesa maintains. “We do all our own manufacturing – we don’t subcontract anything.” Those processes include machining on approximately 65 CNC machines, welding, heat-treating, induction-hardening, zinc phosphate, fluoropolymer and various types of enamel coatings, along with assembly, subassembly, pressure-testing and non-destructive inspection. “We also have our own internal labs to support all those processes,” Plesa notes. “The labs confirm the processes that we’ve done.”
The company uses robotics extensively along with automated machining centers that can machine parts in one setup. Automation also is used for measuring, packaging and labeling, and it has contributed to GN’s growth. “In the last three years, we’ve had in round numbers about 10 percent growth in each of the last two years, and the year before that, the growth was a little over 50 percent,” Plesa asserts. “I’m expecting our business to increase in the next two years by about 100 percent. It’s all coming from the energy industry – it’s more products. We’re actually doing more OEM work in all geographic regions.”
Decreases in the price of oil have not affected GN Corps.’s growth in the energy industries yet. “We’re in a pretty good situation where our major clients are still active in the market,” Plesa says. “Everything is down, but we’re benefitting from that relationship with them.”
The company also is doing work in the aerospace, high-technology and automotive industries. “I would say probably 80 percent is really oil-related,” Plesa estimates. “Our brand is known in most parts of the world.”
GN Corps.’ major clients are familiar names throughout the world in energy or non-energy-related industries. “Everybody knows who they are,” Plesa says. “We’re really close to our customer.”
Customer Service Success
Plesa estimates that 80 percent of GN’s revenue is from repeat customers, which he attributes to the company’s “heavy-duty” customer service. “Customer service is big for us,” Plesa says. “It’s a big factor in the success that we’ve had with our clientele.”
Another reason is the company’s manufacturing capabilities. “We’re really manufacturing leaders,” Plesa insists. “The strength of our business is manufacturing. We’ve been able to vertically integrate our business with our clients’ needs today. Everything is kept in-house; we have control of everything, including cost. We’re very vertically integrated, and we want that to stay. We’re introducing new manufacturing capacity here because there is a demand for us to do exactly that.”
GN Corps. Inc. is celebrating its 50th year in business. Plesa attributes that success to the company’s employees and suppliers. “It’s the right mix of personnel inside the plant and a very strong supplier base,” he says. “We’ve got some very good suppliers who are well-positioned and well-poised to assist us. They are a big part of our team.” He estimates that many of his suppliers have been with GN for five to 40 years.
Plesa also stresses the importance of his employees. “We’ve got employees who understand all our customers’ wants and expectations,” he emphasizes. “We talk about equipment and the best of the best, but to make everything run here I need the best people. The management staff that I’ve currently got here is the best in our company’s history. These are highly educated, motivated people and very enthusiastic. They are helping significantly in assisting this organization to grow.”
GN’s loyal customers also have helped the company during its last half-century. “Our major customers understand us, and we understand them,” Plesa says. “We’re able to assist them in capturing more marketshare. We make their product more profitable than they have been historically. They win – they get faster delivery and a better quality product than they could produce.”