I love hearing how a successful company got started because it usually illustrates how well they have adapted over the years to achieve and maintain that success. ARKU, Inc. is a shining example of a company that has demonstrated the ability and willingness to make the necessary changes to meet ever-changing market trends and client needs. This business strategy has served them well, allowing them to achieve and maintain the leadership position in their core industry.
ARKU, Inc is the global market leader for precision leveling*. Their customers, for the most part, are also leaders in their respective industries such as automotive, agricultural machinery, construction machinery, aerospace, shipbuilding, defense, and more. These customers rely on ARKU for quality and reliability. It’s what ARKU is known for.
But I have to tell you how they began so you know how far they have come. In 1928 they were a small, family-owned fabrication shop in Germany and by 1967 they were making … wait for it ... typewriter key arms! Oh, and very high-quality parts for Swiss watches. And now they are a world leader in precision leveling. Impressive? Absolutely. Over the decades they have continued to push themselves to do more, to add capabilities, products, and services but always with premium quality at the heart of it all. For example, about 7 years ago they entered the deburring** industry, leveraging their existing expertise in working with metal as well as their excellent reputation for quality, precision, and reliability. It’s working well. They anticipate achieving a leadership position in that industry in less than five years.
More recently they entered two more new areas; vision robotics as well as a strategic partnership with a German-based technology company named TRUMPF. Together they have introduced the TRUMPF coil laser system. I found this new product collaboration fascinating because it's a unique, dare I say revolutionary, option manufacturers have never had before. Basically, sheet metal stamping presses have been the "go-to" for many manufacturers forever. These presses are the workhorse in the industry. While the presses offer both low cost and high volume they usually come with one major drawback – relatively long lead times for new dies. This is a hurdle when it comes to making changes, upgrades, new products, etc. As the name implies, the TRUMPF coil laser system relies on laser technology, which virtually eliminates that downtime. Admittedly, there is a learning curve – manufacturers have had to accept the limitations of the “old way” of doing it for so long it is “the norm”, so many do not yet recognize the opportunities the new laser process offers in terms of time savings as well as cost savings (up to 30% on materials as well as savings on tool costs). But ARKU is confident, that once savvy manufacturers understand the benefits they’ll embrace the technology to gain the competitive edge it offers.
So how is ARKU doing during these challenging times? Very well thank you! Sales are up and business is strong though of course the material shortages, especially the electrical parts shortage, are having an impact on business.
New machine lead times that used to be just a few months are now slightly over a year. And while ARKU would love to return to the days of having several of their machines in inventory, ready to be shipped at a moment's notice, it will be a while before they can return to that. But in the meantime, ARKU is staffing up, adding shifts, and working on orders for 2023.
As we wrapped up the tour I asked Nicolas Miller, President, what benefits he has realized from membership in the EACC. He didn't have to think about it at all … he instantly replied that the programs the EACC has been conducting, particularly during the past year or so for manufacturing companies have been of great interest and helpful. And he is glad he has been participating in the CEO roundtable. And while he believes this region is perfect for manufacturing companies like ARKU he did mention it would be terrific for ARKU and other local German-based companies if direct flights from CVG to Germany were reinstated.
*Precision leveling flattens metal parts helping to ensure the machinery in which they are used meets higher quality and reliability standards.
**Deburring is the process of removing the small imperfections known as burrs from machined metal products.
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