HARCO ENTERPRISES LIMITED
Harco Enterprises Ltd. (Harco) is a family-owned and -operated manufacturer and distributor in Peterborough, Ontario. In the 55 years that Harco has been in operation, it has diversified its product line to take advantage of various market opportunities. Today, the firm focuses on two divisions: plastic injection molding and the wholesale distribution of sanitary process equipment such as, pumps, valves, heat exchangers, and mixing equipment.
Harco was founded by Ray Harris in 1964. With a career in the sanitary process industry, Harris noticed that when certain pieces of equipment were damaged or worn, they were typically discarded. Seeing an opportunity, he began repairing the discarded equipment in his garage—initially more as a hobby than a standard business. Thanks to this arrangement, companies were able to have their equipment fixed at a low cost and Harris was able to earn a side income. As business began to pick up, Harris realized that it would also be beneficial to supply select lines of equipment. He continued to find new product lines to add to his distribution network over the years and in the late 1970s, he purchased some plastic molding equipment and started that side of his business as well.
Today, Harco remains a proud family business—Ray’s wife, Joan, and his two children, Terry and Kathy, run the company. Housed in a 16,000-square-foot production facility, Harco boasts a modern machine shop, production facilities along with an in-house design team. Through its multiple product lines, the business continues to experience stable and controlled growth as it takes advantage of new market opportunities.
As noted, Harco promotes two main product lines: plastic injection molding and sanitary process equipment components and supply items. Aside from shared administration and facilities, the two divisions have little cross-over. This diversification in product mix and markets is what the Harris family believes has strengthened the company and positioned itself well for the long term.
Harco’s Plastic Division focuses on injection molded items crossing various markets from promotional products to general industrial items. With an in-house design and art team, Harco works with customers to generate custom products. Molds are created with computer-aided design (CAD) modelling and quickly installed on the plastic injection machine to begin production in a timely manner. Continual investments in new technology provide higher production quality and capacity, creating not only a better product but also a faster time to delivery.
The Sanitary Process Division targets the food, dairy, beverage, brewing, and pharmaceutical industries. Harco’s customers range from large multinational corporations to small independent businesses. The company’s expansion of its tool room and machining equipment allow it to additionally offer the production of specialty parts, welding services, and custom assembly of equipment.
The bulk of Harco’s plastic products are exported through distributors. While its sanitary process division mostly services the Canadian market, it is actively working to grow its international presence, particularly in the United States. Harco tends to offer value-based products and solutions rather than price-only based items, differentiating itself with exceptional customer service and problem solving. Moreover, the fact that it is a family-owned, fourth-generation business sets the company apart from its competitors and appeals to many customers.
Harco is a longstanding member of the Peterborough business community, often supporting charitable events and associations in the area. The Harris family is happy to be located in the Peterborough area, citing good access to major markets and transportation networks through the 400 series highways, a high quality of life, and good cooperation with the local municipal government as some of the benefits of the location.
Finding labour has not been a big challenge for Harco, as many of its employees have been with the company for years. Yet, the Harris family acknowledges that as these workers begin to retire, finding suitable skilled labour to replace them may prove to be a challenge. Despite steady, consecutive growth, Harco has not had to drastically expand its workforce to keep up with this growth. Instead, continual improvements in equipment, technology, and procedures have allowed for productivity and efficiency gains.
Harco is placing a strong emphasis on producing durable, multi-use plastic items, such as handles, utensils, gauges, caps, which have a longer product lifetime than single-use items. Harco is also molding items with biopolymer substitutes. Similar to conventional plastics in many ways, biopolymers are made from renewable plant-based resources. As a compostable and renewable resource, they are a good alternative in various applications.
Harco is always on the lookout for new opportunities and ways to enhance its product lines. On the plastics line, new molds are easily and cheaply made utilizing the latest CAD software, which gives Harco a high level of flexibility to adjust its products to match market demand. This characteristic that has been a core part of the business since its inception. With a versatile product line, a strong labour force, and commitment to exceptional customer service, Harco is sure to continue expanding in all of its business areas.
To learn more, visit Harco’s website at www.harco.on.ca
Published on September 9, 2019
Harco is fourth-generation family business which operates two distinct divisions: Plastic Injection Molding and the Process and Supply which is distribution of sanitary process equipment and components. The firm has a flexible product line, and is always looking for new market opportunities to take advantage of.
Headquarters: 675 The Parkway, Peterborough, ON. K9J 7K2
- Vice-President: Terry Harris
- VP Marketing and Finance: Kathy Perry
- VP Administration: Joan Harris
Year Established: 1984
Number of Employees: 19
Line of Business
- 326198: All other plastic product manufacturing
- 417230: Industrial machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers
Plastic Molding Division:
- Customized items for the promotional industry such as reusable utensils, tools, stirs, picks that can be fully customized to meet clients’ needs
- General industrial molded products such as gauges, handles, window components, spatulas,
- Offering biopolymer compostable materials from renewable resources
Sanitary Process Division:
- Supplies a wide range of sanitary process equipment such as gauges, pumps, heat exchangers, valves, and fittings
- Distributing to the food, dairy, brewing, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries
- Ability to assemble and customize above equipment
- Plastic Division: Promotional industry, Industrial clients, packaging suppliers,
- Process and Supply: Food, dairy, brewing, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries
- The bulk of Harco’s plastic products are exported through distributors, primarily to the U.S.
- Sanitary process equipment is primarily supplied to the Canadian market in addition Harco is growing its presence globally, particularly in the U.S.
R&D and Skills
- Harco is constantly testing biopolymer substitutes for conventional plastics.
- Mold cost improvements and enhancements
- Harco requires a wide range of engineering and technical skills to complement its flexible product lines
Harco was founded in Peterborough, Ontario in 1964 to repair worn pumps and equipment used in the sanitary process industry. As the business began to grow, it began to also distribute select lines of equipment to the same industry. In the late 1970s, plastic injection molding was added to the business’s capabilities, creating the second arm of the business. Through the years, Harco continued to expand its product lines in both divisions.
- Harco faces a global marketplace with offshore competition and imports
- Harco leverages its problem-solving skills and exceptional customer service to differentiate itself from competitors
- Focus on Value as opposed to just price.
For Harco’s plastic division, it is a member of several industry and distributor associations:
- Promotional Products Association International (PPAI)
- Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI)
- SAGE, an organization that links suppliers with distributors for promotional products
- The business is diversified across two distinct divisions, creating a very wide customer base
- The plastic molding line is very flexible, given Harco’s ability to easily new molds in-house
- Harco’s two distinct product lines offer few synergies and can make it difficult to promote a clear brand
- Growing domestic and global demand for plastic substitutes, such as the biopolymers that Harco has been offering
- Offshore competition of low cost imported manufactured goods