KROPF INDUSTRIAL INC.

Organization

The town of Parry Sound, Ontario and the surrounding Muskoka region is one of the most famous boating areas in Canada, if not the world. Therefore, it seems fitting that it is also home to a leading marine hydraulic equipment and dock systems manufacturer, Kropf Industrial Inc. Kropf Industrial is a family-owned and -operated company that is run out of two facilities just south of Parry Sound, comprising a total of 40,000 square feet.

History

Kropf Industrial began in 1977, when long-time local resident Peter Kropf started a mobile welding shop out of the back of his pickup truck. In the early 1980s, he was approached by a friend to build a hydraulic boat trailer. Peter agreed to take on the project and the first Kropf Conolift marine hydraulic trailer was produced.

After seeing the success of his first trailer, Peter realized he was on to something and began specializing in trailer manufacturing. The business was eventually incorporated in 1985, becoming Kropf Industrial. In 1988, Peter decided to diversify the company by purchasing the assets of a steel tube dock manufacturer that was going out of business. This was in response to request from existing clientele to supply them with steel docks. The floating dock division began to experience steady growth with both commercial and residential clients.

Today, Conolift marine hydraulic trailers and floating docks remain the two main branches of the business. However, Kropf Industrial also uses the experience gained over the years in these two areas to produce other products for the aquaculture and industrial markets. Peter has since retired—although he does pop in from time to time when he is needed—and today the business is run by his children, Darin, Jordan, and Kara, as well as his brother-in-law Derrick Gingrich and nephew Tim Gingrich.

Performance

One of the factors that helped make Kropf Industrial so successful is its ability to customize. This ability stems primarily from its vast machining capabilities and qualified workforce. Not only does the company’s shop contain the various technologies required for large-item manufacturing (e.g., welding equipment, crane service, etc.), but it also has CNC machining capabilities so that it can produce its own small parts. This feature allows Kropf Industrial to cater to specific customer needs by designing and manufacturing individualized parts that go into the larger items like trailers or dock systems.

Further, Kropf Industrial can accommodate customers’ unique demands because it has a diverse workforce of apprentices, welders, fabricators, and other individuals trained in skilled trades. By employing a wide array of skilled workers, Kropf Industrial is able to boast expertise in all aspects of the production process. Even more beneficial is the fact that most of these employees can be taught everything they need to know after they arrive at the company because experienced employees are eager to pass on their knowledge.

Another way Kropf Industrial maintains its competitive edge is by staying on top of market trends in the marine industry. While 95 percent of its sales are business-to-business sales (to marinas, yacht clubs, municipalities, boatyards, etc.), its customers service the recreational boating industry so Kropf Industrial aims to stay familiar with the trends and changes in this market; the company does this by maintaining strong relationships with its customers and serving as a member of industry organizations like Boating Ontario, the National Marine Manufacturers Association Canada, and the Association of Marina Industries.

By staying abreast of trends and producing the most cutting-edge trailers and dock systems, Kropf Industrial has been able to secure business both domestically and internationally—though surprisingly little of its revenue comes from the local area. About half of the company’s revenue from the trailer side of the business comes from the United States (meaning that exports comprise one-quarter of total revenue), while on the dock side, Kropf Industrial focuses on larger projects for stakeholders like the cities of Hamilton and Orillia.

Kropf Industrial has been recognized as a successful and growing Ontario manufacturer by many organizations and levels of government. In particular, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund helped the company expand its facility in 2016 by providing funding for a new building. This building houses Kropf Industrial’s state-of-the-art sandblasting and painting equipment, and has enabled the firm to continue responding to its customers’ demands for quality and customization.

Challenges

One of the challenges that Kropf Industrial has faced since its inception is managing its constant growth. The transition from a small shop employing a few people to a large facility now employing 70 workers was far from seamless; however, it is one that the ownership team embraced and ultimately survived by recognizing the need to expand when necessary in order to harness opportunities for growth.

The company’s management know that future challenges will include adapting to changing equipment in the industry. For example, many marine products now incorporate radio remote controls and other advanced materials and systems. Kropf Industrial must continue to anticipate these shifts in the market and utilize its qualified team and technology to maintain its reputation as one of the top suppliers in the industry.

At its core, Kropf Industrial will continue to remain a family-run business committed to meeting its customers’ demands for customization and top-quality products, as well as a significant player in Northern Ontario’s advanced manufacturing industry.

Prospects

Kropf Industrial is focused on expanding into two areas in the near future. First, it hopes to improve its after-sales service to offer an even better customer experience (e.g., by producing improved owner’s manuals for all of its equipment). Second, the company plans to increase its presence in industrial industries. Kropf Industrial has years of experience producing quality equipment for the marine industry, and many of its customers have noted that the firm could utilize its technology in other sectors, such as mining, oil and gas, and heavy manufacturing (bridges, structural steel, etc.). Essentially, these industries require skill sets and technological capabilities that Kropf Industrial already possesses, so management is looking to leverage these assets. At present, industrial markets account for roughly 5-10 percent of the company’s sales but this number could certainly increase in the years to come.

At its core, Kropf Industrial will continue to remain a family-run business committed to meeting its customers’ demands for customization and top-quality products, as well as a significant player in Northern Ontario’s advanced manufacturing industry.

Company Profile

Company Description

Overview

Kropf Industrial Inc. manufacturers CONOLIFT marine hydraulic equipment, dock systems, and other equipment for the industrial and aquaculture sectors. It is a family-owned and -operated company which was founded by Peter Kropf in 1977, and today it is run by three of his children alongside his brother-in-law and nephew. Kropf Industrial is located just south of Parry Sound, Ontario and has 40,0000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Key Facts

Website:

Headquarters:

  • 1 Quebec Drive, Seguin, ON, P2A 0B2

Facilities:

  • Two facilities just south of Parry Sound, ON comprising of 40,000 square feet of total manufacturing space

Executives:

  • Darin Kropf – General Manager

  • Jordan Kropf – Marine Sales

  • Kara Kropf – Administrative Manager

  • Derrick Gingrich – Conolift Manager

  • Timothy Gingrich – Office Manager

Year Established:

  • 1977

  • Incorporated in 1985

Number of Employees:

  • 70

Revenues:

  • 10-12 million

NAICS Code

  • 332999 – All Other Miscellaneous Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing

Products

  • CONOLIFT Marine Hydraulic Equipment:

    • Highway Trailers

    • Yard Trailers

    • Self Propelled Trailers

    • Sling Lifts

    • Trailer Tugs

    • Marine Mobile Lifts

    • OTR Trailers

    • Boat Storage Stands

  • Marine Dock Systems:

    • Commercial Dock Systems

    • Residential Dock Systems

    • HDPE Pipe Docks

    • Floating Breakwaters

    • Barges And Scows

    • Gangways And Security

  • Aquaculture:

    • Floating Net Pens

    • Support Equipment

  • Industrial:

    • Industrial Equipment

    • Crane Services

    • Fabricating And Machining

    • Hydraulic Parts And Services

Customers

  • Marinas

  • Yacht Clubs

  • Municipalities

  • Boat Yards

  • Boat Owners

  • Boat Builders

  • Industrial Customers

  • Private Individuals

Examples of Completed Projects

  • Dock system for the City of Hamilton

  • Dock system for the City of Orillia

  • Conolift marine mobile lift for the Eastern Kings Ice Co-operative in Prince Edward Island

  • Dock system for the Town of Cobourg

  • Y-100 yard hydraulic trailer for Dixon’s Marine Group in Nova Scotia

  • 100-ton capacity hydraulic trailer for Bayliss Boatworks, a builder of custom sportfishing yachts in Wanchese, NC

  • SP-100 self-propelled hydraulic trailer for M.E. Yacht Restoration in Holland, MI

Markets/Exports

  • Roughly 90% of business is marine, 10% industrial

  • Majority of sales are split evenly between hydraulic equipment and dock systems

  • Roughly 25% of revenue comes from exports, primarily to the United States

R&D, Skills and Educational Needs

  • R&D

    • R&D is primarily demand driven

  • Skills:

    • Over 30 years experience in the industry

    • Welders, apprentices, fabricators, manufacturers, other skilled trades individuals

    • Ability to customize and offer turnkey solutions

  • Education:

    • Hire engineers, individuals who have completed skilled trades programs, individuals with high school educations, individuals who have completed other university educations like business

    • Skills can be taught once employee arrives at the company, making it easy to attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds

History

Kropf Industrial Inc. was founded in 1977 by Peter Kropf in Parry Sound, Ontario. Its initial projects were primarily centred around the manufacturing of hydraulic trailers for the marine industry. In 1988, in response to requests from customers, Kropf Industrial began manufacturing dock systems for commercial and residential customers. Today the company is run by three of Peter’s children and two members of his extended family, and continues to specialize in hydraulic marine equipment and dock systems.

Competitive Environment

Competitors

  • Dock side of business:

    • One major company that has similar capabilities in Ontario

    • Two companies that have similar capabilities in Quebec

  • Hydraulic equipment side of business:

    • A small number of equipment companies in the United States that Kropf Industrial competes with

Government Programs

  • Northern Ontario Heritage Fund:

    • Assisted with the expansion of its manufacturing facility

SWOT Analysis

  • Strengths

    • Ability to customize

    • Vast machining capabilities, which enables the company to control the entire production process and offer turnkey solutions

    • Over 30 years of experience in the industry

  • Challenges

    • Attracting employees who are the right fit for the company

    • Managing monumental growth

    • Expanding into new industries

  • Opportunities

    • Opportunity to improve after-sales services

    • Significant opportunity to expand into new industries like mining, oil and gas, and heavy manufacturing

OTHER PROFILES