McInnes Rolled Rings, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, isn’t the only manufacturer of seamless rolled rings in the country. To stay competitive, then, they had to find a way to set themselves apart.
“We differentiate ourselves by being faster,” says Tim Hunter, president and CEO.
That means the company zeroes in on getting products made for its customers, and getting those products delivered in a timely manner. That turnaround time is even touted on the company’s website: “We ship in as few as five days.”
McInnes keeps the operation focused on that work, rather than branching into other services that would funnel away resources, Hunter says.
It’s a strategy that seems to be paying off for McInnes. The company serves more than 1,000 customers in North America – from Canada to Mexico, coast to coast – and is the fastest producer in its size range, Hunter says.
Part of that efficiency in service can also be attributed to advances in manufacturing. Thirty years ago, Hunter says, McInnes could produce eight to 10 rolled rings in an eight-hour shift. Today, the company can turn out 20 in an hour, thanks to modern equipment and procedures.
The old process “was used for thousands of years,” Hunter says. “But the technology changed dramatically.”
About McInnes Rolled Rings: The company produces seamless rolled rings – “just like your wedding ring, but bigger,” Hunter describes – that that can withstand high stress. The rings are used in products and equipment in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, aerospace, construction, mining and even healthcare. The smallest rings, which are about 10 inches in diameter, might be used in aircraft equipment, while the largest, 12-foot rings – which can weigh 8,000 pounds – might be used as flanges on oil and gas pipelines. McInnes’ employment has stayed fairly steady at around 80, even during down times in some industries.
Why Erie County: One of the greatest advantages of being located in Erie County is proximity to raw materials, Hunter says. About 90 percent of the company’s materials are within 100 miles. This helps McInnes keep to its efficient production schedule.
Challenges of Erie County: One of the biggest challenges that McInnes Rolled Rings is facing echoes something I’ve heard from other employers, particularly manufacturers, in Erie County – securing a trained and capable workforce for the future. Hunter has identified a need for a pipeline to ensure that younger workers get the training they need to fill the gaps that will be left by retiring employees, who often have a deep skill set. “We have wonderful people working here now,” Hunter says. “The question is 10 years from now.”
Fun fact: McInnes operates the sixth-largest press in the nation – a press that was built just a short drive down 12th Street by Erie Press Systems.