From my first assignment as a business reporter until now, there is nothing I value more than getting out into a factory or a company and really seeing what it makes and who is behind the scenes there.
So I was happy earlier this week to make a visit to three different companies and get a walking tour of their plants and warehouses.
Our first stop was at Canfield Industries, which is home to Canfield Connector, a manufacturer of electronic connectors, and Spartan Scientific, makers of pneumatic and other fluid valves. Canfield Connector produces both male and female connectors used in industrial, commercial machinery and mobile applications, including standard 8-mm four-pin round connectors all the way to special connectors used on cell towers.
But if I hadn’t actually met with Canfield’s marketing team, including John Piscitelli, district sales manager and Shea McKelvey, graphic designer, I would not have learned that the company doesn’t just make connectors and valves. It’s much bigger than that.
Over the years, Canfield Industries has grown into something more like an engineering firm that designs and integrates systems and even serves as a contract manufacturer. Yes, most of the systems are often born from a customer needing a valve or a connector, but that same customer soon learns that their complete answer can come from Canfield, not just part of it.
While the company does keep its standard parts in stock, including its CANPack connectors, solenoid valves and sensors, it’s the custom designs that really stand out in the plant. For example, our tour included a look at Canfield’s injection molding machine, which it uses for its standard products but also for custom designs that are completely outside of its standard offerings.
For example, many of Spartan Scientific’s valves are used in beverage dispensers. But when a typical design wouldn’t work for one restaurant’s smoothie machine, Canfield designed a custom pinch valve that allowed the fruit and juice to flow successfully through the machine.
The engineered and manufactured components produced at Canfield Industries run the gamut from a stepper motor design currently under development to inclinometers used on agriculture equipment. It stocks its own wire for use in its wiring department. It uses both vertical and horizontal molding machines to mold its valve and connector bodies. “With molded vs. assembled valves and connectors,” Piscitelli said, “you have higher sealing, less leak points, and no gaskets you could lose.”
And one of these machines, a low-pressure molding machine, is used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards and other fragile designs. “If you need a circuit board to fit in an enclosure, we’ll make it in-house,” Piscitelli said. “Here electronics and mechanical engineering are married together.”
This is just a small sampling of the many innovative designs Canfield Industries’ engineering team has created in recent years by allowing its two companies, Canfield Connector and Spartan Scientific, to work jointly together. And as they continue to grow, I expect to see more.
There may be a lot of hype about American manufacturing being dead or perhaps even being brought back to life, but out in Youngstown, Ohio, Canfield Industries continues to prove that American ingenuity and engineering is alive and well.