Commercial Spring and Tool Company Limited
In Mississauga, Ontario, Commercial Spring and Tool Company Limited (CST) supports the automotive, electronics and communication industries worldwide with custom-manufactured products that meet the specific needs of various customers. The privately owned company was established in 1973 by Frank Martinitz, a young entrepreneurial tool-and-die maker from Germany. CST produces parts such as metal stampings, clips, torsion bars and springs, strikers and compression springs, extension and spiral springs, wire forms and also offers heat treating and coating services.
Divide and conquer
Today CST has four locations — including more than 220,000 square feet of manufacturing space — and more than 250 employees. The company has positioned itself as a global leader through constant innovation, lean manufacturing processes and cutting-edge technology. “Our continued ability to invest in facilities, equipment, tooling, process, research and development and technology keeps us energetic and ahead of the curve,” notes Martinitz, who is still active in the company’s day-to-day operations.
As a tier-one supplier for General Motors and a tier-two supplier for other sizable companies, the majority of CST’s customers are automotive manufacturers, which unfortunately due to economic conditions caused business to come to a halt in 2008. “Things really slowed for us in 2008 and 2009, but now we’re picking back up to the pre-recession pace,” says Gurmail Gill, vice president of CST.
Gill says CST has distinguished itself by dividing the business model into individual operating units, pushing for better efficiency, processes and technology. “CST is highly innovative and we embrace new technology,” notes Gill. “We’ve invested a lot of capital expenditure in new technology, which helps give us a leg up on the competition.”
When Martinitz first established CST, the company made wire springs and clips. “We still make these products, but our business has grown to include metal stamping, welding assemblies, heat treating and coatings,” says Gill.
“Over the last six years or so, CST has divided, whereas originally all of the manufacturing was done under one roof,” continues Gill. “Now we have multiple buildings for each business unit. We have one that does all of the wire and spring forming and a separate for tooling, stamping and heat treating. We decided to do this due to increased volume and run everything as its own business unit. This has allowed us to better understand true operating costs.”
Leading design and tooling
CST is a TS 16949-certified organization, which deploys quality systems that ensure optimum product design, launch, process and manufacturing methods. The company’s engineering department works in 2-D and 3-D platforms, utilizing the latest in CAD/CAM software. “This allows us to work closely with our customers to develop quality tooling,” says Gill.
In terms of tooling, CST offers a wide range of capabilities including complex progressive dies and fully automated transfer tooling. “We also incorporate value-added processes such as in die tapping, clinch nut and stud insertions,” adds Gill. “Our in-house design and tooling help us remain flexible for our customers and competitive in terms of solutions.”
While CST has secured a lengthy list of longstanding customers, Gill says the company is never comfortable in settling. “We’re always upgrading our facilities and equipment, even in tough times,” he says. “Our customers see that we’re doing this and that we’re staying ahead of the curve and it makes them more likely to work with us.”
Recent investments and upgrades include more equipment in CST’s spring and stamping manufacturing plants and in the company’s heat-treat plant. “We’re doing a whole slew of things we couldn’t do with the conventional equipment,” says Gill. “On the tooling side, with more updated equipment and better processes in place in our supply chain, we’re lessening downtime and increasing productivity. Further vertical integration has also helped us attract new business partners that we’re now able to accommodate.”
Gill says CST is agile and always looking for the next opportunity. “We’re currently working on some products that were being manufactured in Mexico and China and we’ve brought them to Canada,” he says. “We’re in the process of launching these and developing programs as far out as 2018.”
Gill says the growth potential for CST is considerable, including an additional 30 jobs as the company continues to add increased capabilities and capacity. “The base of our business remains in long-term customers — many of which we’ve worked with for 20 years or more,” he says. “Our customer base is steady and there’s a strong sense of stability here from customers to suppliers and business partners.”
After 42 years, Commercial Spring and Tool Company Limited has developed diverse divisions capable of accommodating some of the industry’s largest industrial customers and continues to build longstanding relationships.