Munck Cranes Inc.
Munck Cranes Inc. (MCI) is more than a standard catalogue crane and hoist company. The Ontario-based manufacturer readily rises to meet the specific lifting challenges in a range of industries. “Based in Stoney Creek, Ont., we’ve been in the same location for 30 years, specializing in overhead cranes and material handling equipment,” says Mike Mikoda, president of MCI. “Today, Munck serves almost every industry, from companies that make vacuum cleaners to the mining industry, pulp and paper, steel warehousing and many automotive customers.”
Mikoda, who founded MCI in 1983 with four partners, including current partner John Vandenberg, says what sets the company apart from others is an unmatched level of customization. “We’re highly responsive to our customers’ special requirements, whereas some of our competitors aren’t so eager to accommodate,” Mikoda explains. “That means everything from unusual dimension requirements and putting big cranes in small spaces to minimizing the amount of room the crane takes up.”
A significant part of MCI’s business is devoted to this application specific material handling equipment and systems. MCI manufacturers and services everything from overhead bridge cranes to gantry and jib cranes and hoists to under hook attachments and transfer carts. From design to installation, MCI delivers a custom engineered solution that’s allowed the company to extend its reach across North America.
MCI calls Ontario home; however, the company has a service operation in Buffalo, N.Y., and a manufacturing facility in Mexico. “We operate throughout Ontario, but if the application is right and we can be competitive, we’ll go anywhere in North America,” reveals Mikoda. “We’ve traveled to Texas and western parts of the U.S.”
Mikoda says MCI’s in-house engineering department offers can delivery any standard or custom equipment application at a fair and competitive cost. “We have manufactured never-before built innovative equipment to overcome material handling boundaries and meet the specific needs of our customers,” he shares. “We import the MCI hoist from Europe, but we do all structural steel in-house and only subcontract some steel cutting.”
MCI’s portfolio is a testament to the company’s diverse in-house range. “We’re just finishing a mining project in Saskatchewan, including 60-tonne cranes with extra-long lifts,” reveals Mikoda. “We’re also finishing off a $400,000 mining equipment repair order for Carrier Equipment in Sudbury, Ont.”
One of Mikoda’s most memorable projects is MCI’s contribution of 80-ton transfer cars, specially designed with a low profile for CS Wind in Windsor, Ont. “We strategically designed the low-profile cranes and cares for easier maneuverability,” he notes.
A new day, a new challenge
MCI has also supported numerous water treatment plants in and around Ontario, developing custom gantry cranes for the inspection and repair of water treatment filters. “The banks of the filters need to be inspected and pulled out and repaired regularly,” shares Mikoda. “We’ve designed quite a few gantries for this specific application because the specs frequently change and it’s a challenge everyone else doesn’t want to tackle. Unlike most construction jobs, we don’t have months to plan, often times we’re designing on the fly for quick turnarounds.”
Nonetheless, Mikoda says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’re solving a different problem every day,” he says. “If it suits our customers’ needs and works well and performs the specific job, it’s a win-win for us and for them.”
Coming out of the recession, MCI has faced a dropped in sales and as new construction has slowed down, the company has relied on maintenance jobs. “Sales have been a little slow in the first half of this year,” reveals Mikoda. “We’ve definitely seen a downturn in Canada, but I’m hoping to see it pick up again in the second half of 2014.”
Even when there is plenty of work, Mikoda says finding the skilled labor to carry it out presents another challenge. “The amount of people getting into skilled trades has dropped considerably,” he adds. “This needs to change and our productivity needs to increase in Canada for the country to compete in a global market with big players such as China.”
According to Mikoda, there’s always room for diversity and that’s how he plans to pull MCI through a slower sales period and sluggish economy. “We need to look a little bit into diversification,” he considers. “There are opportunities in more material handling equipment that’s crane-like, but not necessarily cranes and partnerships with European under hook manufacturers whose products need an avenue in North America.”
Even with the possibility of diversification, Mikoda assures it won’t come at the price of quality. “The quality of the equipment we put out and our ability to respond to our customers’ needs is most important,” he measures. From standard cranes to the most precise specifications, Munck Cranes Inc. can design, build and rise to any heavy lifting challenge.