When the Canadian Association of Mold Makers asked its members if they were willing to help in beating back the rapid spread of COVID-19, it didn’t take long for one company from Windsor, Ont., to answer the call.
“We put our name forward as good corporate citizens, provincially, municipally and federally, in the data bases. We said, ‘anything we can do, we’d be happy to apply our resources to.’” Tim Galbraith, sales manager at Cavalier Tool & Manufacturing, told Automotive News Canada Monday.
It took the company about four days to go from being interested in lending a hand to producing the tools another Canadian company desperately needed to fulfill orders for wall-mount, pump-action hand sanitizer units used in hospitals.
“It’s the right thing to do. It feels good doing it. We all want to be part of something that saves lives,” Cavalier President Brian Bendig said. “We talked about money, but that was like 10 seconds of the conversation.
“I’m willing to donate material, resources and time. It’s more important to get to the finish than how we got there.”
The health-equipment manufacturer, which neither Galbraith or Bendig wanted to name, was looking for a Canadian company to help with the tooling of small metal parts used in its housing units.
“This work is outside the normal size for us in tooling,” Galbraith said.
The company normally builds molds for the automotive, commercial, recreational, heavy-truck and agricultural industries. Some of the molds built in the shop are so large they require overhead hydraulic lifts to move them around.
Galbraith said the molds needed by the health-equipment supplier are more like building “a nail file.”
Like many moldmakers, Cavalier has a library of pre-made components to make the next mold easier to build.
“In the tool industry, the tooling library is sanctimonious and you don’t share it with anybody. It’s what you build your design department on,” Galbraith said. “But we don’t have any small molds.”
Cavalier got a call from the provincial government on Thursday, March 26, asking for the company’s help.
“Can we do it? Absolutely. Building a tool is building a tool,” Galbraith said. “By Friday morning, we had an agreement of what this relationship would look like, and kicked off three tools.”
Galbraith and Bendig assembled a small group of employees they dubbed “the Tiger Team” to quickly push out the product.
Galbraith called the team “a group of pretty smart people dedicated to one cause.”
“Our designers need to get a medal pinned on their chests because they’ve been living and breathing this 20 hours a day for the last 72 hours,” Galbraith said.
And all of them did it from home. On a weekend.
Bendig said all designers, sales and office staff are working from home. But, he said he had to lay off 40 per cent of his workforce as the pandemic dragged on.
“We’re juggling and shuffling and doing the best we can,” he said.
At the shop, visitors are banned and on those on the floor must maintain a two-metre buffer between each other. Bendig has also hired three full-time cleaners to disinfect the plant two times a day.
Galbraith and Bendig both said they — and their employees — feel a sense of pride in the work they’re doing
“We believe in the cause,” Galbraith said.