Columbus McKinnon's machinery products can be extremely uplifting -- literally. Founded in 1875, the company is one of North America's largest producers of equipment for lifting, positioning, or securing all kinds of large materials. Columbus McKinnon's hoists, cranes, actuators, and steel lifting and rigging tools are used in construction, general manufacturing and industrial machinery, forestry, mining, and even wind energy. Well known in the marketplace, its brand names include Coffing, Duff-Norton, Shaw-Box, and Yale (made by NACCO). Hoists are the company's biggest seller, generating more than half of sales. In addition to OEMs, the company sells to hardware distributors and rental outlets.
Columbus McKinnon operates a dozen manufacturing facilities in China, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, the UK, and the US. It has a network of roughly 40 sales and service offices in 17 countries and 10 warehouse facilities spanning five countries.
Sales of Columbus McKinnon's products are tied to industries with activities that quickly rise and fall with the health of economic and financial markets. As such, the company's balance sheet has resembled a roller coaster in recent years. After posting a net loss of nearly $36 million in 2011, Columbus McKinnon generated about $27 million in positive net income for 2012. It has posted a net loss every other year from 2009 to 2012.
From 2011 to 2012, net sales were up 13%, climbing from $524 million to $592 million, largely due to an increased global demand for the company's products and beneficial translations in foreign currency. The company has also made a concerted effort in recent years to reduce costs. Between 2009 and 2011, it consolidated its North American hoist and rigging manufacturing footprint.
Columbus McKinnon is investing in promising end-user markets, as well as product extensions applicable to entertainment, energy, construction, mining, and food processing markets. Going global is part of this effort and will serve to buffer Columbus McKinnon from regional industrial cycles. Through acquisitions of similar businesses and through strategic joint ventures, it is capturing more sales outside of the US (approximately 45%) than ever in its history.
Columbus McKinnon's sights are set on South America and China, where industrial opportunities are expected to be strong. Its direction is supported by a number of product introductions relevant to developing economies, including lightweight high-speed industrial air hoists, forged lifting attachments, and hand hoists and lever tools, made at lower-cost facilities in China. – less