Centerline on fast lane to growth
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Workers in Centerline Power Corp.’s shop in Longmont specialize in engines with 1,000 or more horsepower that operate at 1,000 revolutions per minute or fewer. Uses for Centerline parts include on cruise ships, locomotives, large generators and deep-sea oil rigs.
Technician Louie Switalski works on a pump element for a General Electric locomotive engine at Centerline Power Corp. in Longmont.
That's because Centerline largely has been immune to them since its founding in 1990.
Centerline, which manufactures aftermarket fuel-injection components for large diesel engines in the marine, rail and stationary power-generation industries, thrived during the recent economic downturn. Slow is something Haynes said recently that Centerline has never been – outside of a few months in its earliest days.
"We're basically in the toothpaste and toilet paper business, things you have got to have," Haynes said. "Trains have always got to run. Ships have always got to cross the ocean. And the lights always have to burn. So we're recession-proof."
And primed for growth.
Centerline plans to move into about 8,600 square feet at 1830 Boston Ave. in Longmont in November. The company has been at 1910 Pike Road, where it has 4,800 square feet, for about 12 years.
"We can't keep up with demand," Haynes said. "This building opens up a lot of doors for us."
Centerline purchased about 15,000 square feet of the nearly 19,000-square-foot building on Boston Avenue in February. R/X Automation Solutions Inc., which recently purchased a building on Sherman Street for its new headquarters, had much of Centerline's space under lease through this month.
The owners of Take Action Family Karate Inc., doing business as Scornavacco Martial Arts Academy, own the rest of the building. Shadow Ops Weaponry LLC, meanwhile, leases space from Centerline and will expand from about 3,500 square feet to nearly 6,400.
Other than the nature of Centerline's products as staples for the company's customers, Centerline's success during the downturn was also partly attributable to the fact that 90 percent of its products are exported to other countries. When the value of the dollar sinks, his products become value buys for foreign customers.
Haynes said the downturn also made it easier to schedule subcontractors, cutting lead times and reducing costs for Centerline. Perhaps the toughest part of the recession was the backlog of orders the company had despite the added efficiencies.
"It's always painful to tell a customer who needs parts, 'No, I'm sorry. You've got to wait 20 weeks,'" Haynes said.
Haynes said Centerline will have revenue of a little more than $1 million this year, although he expects that number to double next year as the company ramps up other product lines now that it has more space to work with. Centerline, which has nine employees, will be adding two or three with the move to help keep up with the expansion, the company's third in its 33 years.
For the most part, Centerline specializes in engines with 1,000 or more horsepower that operate at 1,000 revolutions per minute or fewer. Centerline parts are found in cruise ships, locomotives, large generators and deep-sea oil rigs, just to name a few.
A side niche, the high-performance realm for competition vehicles, has also been taking off of late, Haynes said, and will drive much of the growth next year. Tractor pulls and drag strips are becoming a major source of demand.
Demand also is increasing for Centerline to increase its production of after-market parts for large Caterpillar engines.
The new building "is a great chance to take advantage of some of the opportunities at our disposal," Haynes said.
Haynes, 58, a self-described engine historian, grew up playing with engine parts as a kid. His father founded Haynes Corp. in Jackson, Michigan, in 1960. Originally a manufacturer's rep, Haynes Corp. got into the fuel-injection parts manufacturing business in the early 1970s when it purchased Adeco Products Inc. Larry Haynes worked for the family business from then until the mid-1980s when he moved to Colorado and eventually started Centerline.
As Chinese manufacturers drove many other after-market manufacturers out of business, Centerline's niche as an American-made manufacturer focused on quality has strengthened.
The company's ability to adapt to specialized needs also has been a key driver in its success. When a tourist boat operator in Puget Sound calls looking for a plunger and bushings for a 1929 Atlas engine, Haynes can make the person's jaw drop when he reels multiple Atlas model numbers off the top of his head to get specifics about what he's being asked to build.
"A lot of people who even know about that engine are all dead," Haynes said.
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