I had the pleasure of meeting with Larry Koscielski, of Centerline, for the July Member Spotlight. Larry is the Vice President of Process and Technology Development at CenterLine. He joined the company in April of 1984 as a 1st apprentice electrician.
What are Centerline’s goals for 2022?
Although we will always build a lot of custom automation, over the last few years we have shifted a great deal of our focus into selling configured products that serve our industry. Many of these are products that we have developed for our own use and now recognize that there is a huge market for us to build standard plug and play modules that can then be integrated into larger systems. Because we are also users of things like the SoftMount Gun™ and PinPoint™ in our own automation, we understand what other integrators need and value and reflect that in the product offering. We are on track to release a total of 6 new products by the end of the calendar year.
Another big focus of ours is growing our team. We have developed many different internal programs to help our team members accelerate their growth. We have a 12 week boot camp for new machinists and also recently added a 10 week program for new designers to learn our systems, products and techniques. Over the last couple of years we have also added a lot leadership training for our supervisors and managers. For us these are all foundational for our organization so we take them seriously.
Are there any things from 2021 that you would consider achievements, or that your company is most proud of?
Getting through the what I hope is the worst of the pandemic while at the same time delivering for our customers was no small feat for anyone and I think as an organization we did that well. Every day brought new struggles and obstacles, but our team found ways to get the work done while staying true to our values as an organization.
We also launched some very unique products, that are focused on fastener welding and clinching and those were quickly adopted as the gold standard in the sector. As of the end of 2021 CenterLine equipment is used by our customers to weld or clinch over 13,000,000 nuts a day. The EV market has really accelerated our sales in this sector since battery trays use a lot of fasteners.
What are 3 things that you would tell someone just starting out in your industry?
- Work hard and rid yourself of any sense of entitlement – the world owes you nothing.
- Be curious and take the time to learn from others that are willing to teach.
- Always have healthy disregard for the impossible.
Can you provide a brief history of Centerline?
Centerline is proud to be a family-owned company that just celebrated their 65th anniversary. We maintain strong values, focus on the community and growth of employees and of course exceptional products and service for our customers. Many of our customers have been with us for 20, 30 and even 40 years. We build custom automated welding and assembly lines and standard brand products for fastener welding, fastener clinching, resistance welding, metal joining, metal forming and metal coatings. Our customers include the OEM’s the Tier suppliers and Machinery Integrators in automotive, mass transit, aerospace and defence industries.
In 1957, Centerline started doing die repairs and the two owners were toolmakers who then moved on towards building dies, then to repairing machines and finally building machines. Centerline now has, 4 locations and 5 business units in Windsor with approx. 800 staff and global affiliates in Mexico, the US, Germany, Brazil, Romania, China and India.
Centerline is dedicated to the next generation of industry leaders through programs like OYAP and various other co-op programs. They work with school boards and post-secondary institutions to help people gain the experience they need. The strong relationship Centerline holds with FIRST Robotics also shows their devotion to improving the community as they move forward together.
What is something about your industry that you think would surprise people?
I think that people would be surprised at the extreme level of detail that has to go into a piece of automation. From early concepts, to detail designs of the fixtures and automation, the simulation that is done to prove out reach and access and confirm cycle times, to the risk assessments that are done to prevent personnel, and finally all the work that has to be done to validate the weld quality and buy off in our customer’s facility – it is all very very detailed and important. All the supporting processes that go into a part like the dies being built and run off, the specifications for steel, the specs for things like adhesives and the efforts that have to go into checking every thing – all add up to a huge effort by many many people and organizations to make a part for a car or truck.
It was great to meet with Larry and get a chance to learn about Centerline and their operations. Larry is truly dedicated to his industry and helping the community grow. He is dedicated to his relationship with FIRST Robotics and his passion is visible when he discusses their efforts.