As an example of the true spirit of entrepreneurial achievement, there are few stories that are as compelling as that of Cobourg’s Lorenz Conveying Products.
In the early 1970s, Ed Lorenz came up with an ingenious solution to a vexing mechanical problem plaguing some equipment in the factory of his employer at the time, General Mills. He developed a special clamp that worked adeptly on curved surfaces to solve the problem. He then decided there was a possible market for the clamp, and that little apparatus became the foundation for what was initially Lorenz & Son.
“My dad was 50 when he came up with the idea. He came home to my mom Diane and said ‘I think I’ve got something here.’ We made some prototypes in the garage, he took a leave of absence from his job and did a cross-Canada marketing survey with a briefcase full of these things to show people. And they were all interested. So he came back, quit his job and started the company,” said the ‘Son,’ Peter Lorenz, who now runs the business.
“Initially we did installations too but as the business grew we just focused on creating new products to respond to our customers’ demands. He got patents in the U.S. and Canada and just continued to grow the company.”
Today, the company is based out of a state-of-the-art 50,000 square-foot facility just off Highway 401 and boasts 50 employees creating slide gates, diverter valves, tube and pipe bends, ‘cyclones’ and other custom-designed accessories for various industrial needs.
“We send about 60 per cent of our products to the United States and another 30 to 35 per cent in Canada and the rest primarily to Central and South America. We do deal with a lot of big corporationsacross a number of industries. It’s all dry material handling systems: we do plastic pellets, corn, flour, any dry powdered chemical, dry foods like rice and spices, coffee and coffee beans, so it’s a pretty versatile portfolio of customers,” said Lorenz.
With shrewd and adaptable product design, marketing acumen and superior customer service, Lorenz grew from operating out of the family basement to the vacant guard house at the former Canadian military depot in town and up to the current facility. While it seems like a seamless and unwavering growth curve, there have been some challenges along the way, but the Lorenz family has always taken on those challenges and turned them into opportunities.
“Being in Cobourg, or any small town, and trying to sell to the rest of the world is a challenge, but we have made it work. And we have always marketed our company, even in recessions. We still put ourselves out there no matter what and we will continue to do that. It has helped make our company a household name throughout the industry,” said Lorenz.
“And we stay on top of things. We focus on relationships and excellence in customer service to drive business growth by providing customers strategic counselling and solutions.”
Peter said that any of those challenges over the past four decades have been more than surpassed by the opportunities and benefits of living and working in Cobourg and Eastern Ontario.
“I love being Canadian, I love coming back here after a business trip. It’s very calm and the way of life is excellent. Our employees are family people and they work for a family business. They work hard and are dedicated and everyone likes coming to work every day. It makes it easier to do business that way.”
For more information on Lorenz Conveying Products, visit www.lorenzproducts.com.